Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Some quick thoughts on senator McCarthy

I have been interested in Senator Joseph McCarthy and McCarthyism for some years now. My interest is probably somewhat founded in the fact that it's such an obvious example of something that's 100% wrong.

What McCarthy did was to try to get people fired for their political affiliation – not only their current affiliation, but any affiliation they might have had in the past. In other words, he used their political stance as a guideline for the fitness to hold a job. It's not the same as saying that people with a certain ideological stance can't fit into certain jobs (I think we can all think of situations where someone's stance on an issue makes them unfit for certain jobs) – instead it’'s saying that someone shouldn't hold a job because of an ideological stance, regardless of their fitness to hold their job in general; in other words, a political litmus test.

With few examples, people understand that McCarthy was wrong, but quite often it seems to me that people don't quite get it.

One of the things people often focus on, when talking about McCarthy, is the fact that few, or none, of the people he accused of belonging to the Communist party was found guilty of this.
That's beside the point. The Communist party was a perfectly legitimate political party to belong to (and still is), so membership of the party in no way should affect peoples' job situation.

There is no doubt that the Communist parties around the world had a close relationship with the Soviet Union, often bordering on the treasonous, but that doesn't mean that the individual member of the party in any way was guilty of this, and even if they were guilty of having close ties to the Soviet, this wasn’t as such illegal.
Unless it could be found that a member of the party for example gave confidential information to the Soviets, it was no more problematic than to have close ties with for example Greece or Portugal under the military rule (though all of these examples show a decidedly lack of judgment).

Of course, McCarthy's wild accusations lead to some pretty draconian, and out-right undemocratic, laws – for example The Communist Control Act of 1954. An example of the solution to a problem being worse than the actual problem – reducing peoples' rights in the face of some external enemy, who might infiltrate the country. Sounds familiar?

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4 Comments:

Blogger Katie said...

Kris, I remember when I was posting on a certain site (now defunct, of course) at a very young and tender age and I was exposed to people who thought that McCarthy was cool, and that he had prevented the United States from disaster (though I'm not sure what that disaster was supposed to be).

Anyway, there are quite a few conservatives that will defend McCarthy's actions, and I think that their values become very clear when they do. They want a small government when it comes to their actions and priorities, but as soon as it protects the rights of those who are different, they are willing to do some pretty nasty things in the name of national security.

March 01, 2007 12:38 AM  
Blogger Katie said...

Oh, by the way, don't look at my blog. It's ancient and I was depressed.

I need to start a new one...

March 01, 2007 12:39 AM  
Blogger Kristjan Wager said...

Well, at least some of those who defended McCarthy at the now defunct place, probably did it to get a rise of us liberals. I also recall some of them defending the Taliban (for the benifit of others: pre-9/11 of course).

And yes, I know that some people defend McCarthy now, because it opens the path for them to do similar things now. Much like when Malkin defends the internment of Japanese during WWII.

March 01, 2007 8:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The CPUSA was funded at this period by the Soviet Union. In fact, it is now beyond dispute that the CPUSA was essentially an active arm of the intelligence service of Stalin's hostile Soviet regime. As such, the CPUSA was engaged in espionage and subversion in the US. As this was known to the authorities, it is puzzling the CPUSA was never made illegal (it is said the FBI preferred the Party being "out in the open" rather than completely "underground"). So the CPUSA was not just a "normal" political party-it was an agency of a totalitarian expansionist enemy state.

Secret party members and fellow travellers were active in spying and subverion at the highest levels in the Roosevelt and Truman administration and bureaucracy-Lauchlin Currie (FDR's assistant), Alger Hiss (State department advisor to FDR at Yalta), John Stewart Service ( State department "China hand" and Mao propagandist), Owen Lattimore (the State department's fellow travelling pet China "expert" ) and Harry Dexter White (assistant secretary to the US Treasury), are a few of the huge numbers of people working to forward a communist agenda from within the federal government structure. The infiltrators helped engineer the conflict between the US and Japan in 1941; their greatest triumph was bringing about the US abandonment of China to the murderous communist maniac Mao ( especially thru the comminust sympathising China hands manipulating of General Marshall, who was quite correctly attacked by McCarthy for his key role in the China sellout)-resulting in millions of deaths thru state murder and starvation (a horrific famine was engineered by Mao and his henchmen during the "great leap forward" in the 1950s).

In fact, we now have clear and irrefutable evidence that Sen.McCarthy and others greatly underestimated the level of communist infiltration into the government. The "Venona" intelligence transcripts, finally made public in the 1990s, show the colossal scale of Soviet infiltration into the US government and bureaucracy.

McCarthy himself was mainly concerned over why individuals with communist backgrounds and sympathies were being retained in sensitive government posts-the federal loyalty boards were just not doing their job. Truman's Secretaries of State, Marshall and Acheson, were notorious in bending over backwards to accomodate employees who should not have been in the federal government. As the government had failed to act on this issue, it was left to congessional committees to do the job of housecleaning.

I regard myself as a liberal-but cannot agree with the line about the "evil" red scare peddled for decades which has so misinformed people. It is a fact that the US government was stuffed with Soviet agents and their supporters, a situation facilitated by the expansion of the Federal government under FDR. Their aim was a totalitarian USA and a totalitarian world. These were Stalin's creatures, allies of one of one of the biggest mass murdering tyrants in history. Think if instead of being communist agents and sympathisers, they had been Nazis, keen to help the regime of Hitler and forward Nazi domination of the world. Well, being communists/ fellow travellers, meant they were equally the active agents of a brutal tyranny. These individuals and cells in the government were not merely socially concerned harmless liberals subjected to "witch hunts" by political scoundrels. They were extremely dangerous. Their removal was essential. In helping free government from such people, Mc Carthy did a great service. This is not to say he did not make errors-what politician has not-but he is not the cliched cardboard ogre so many have been misled to believe. The truth about McCarthy and this period is far more complex than the stubborn prevailing myth (actually long since intellectually demolished by historical research).

February 24, 2008 5:48 PM  

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