my ironometer just cracked

Never before have I seen an article defending the good and honorable work of Joe McCarthy.

17 Responses:

  1. malokai says:

    completely unrelated, that is by far the best lj icon I've ever seen.

  2. It *is* the National Review, after all.

    Still, I think he has a point that "McCarthyism" gets thrown around a little too loosely. There ought to be an amendment to Godwin's law, that whenever someone is accused of "McCarthyism" or starting a "witchhunt", the debate has gone on too long.

  3. jlindquist says:

    He may be right about the term "McCarthyism" being overused. The hypocritical elements of both the right and the left can reach for it when they deliberately mistake disagreement for oppression.

    But his argument that McCarthy was right in motive though wrong in execution is patently ridiculous. To suggest that Communism, in and of itself, is bad and immoral and should cost people their jobs and lives is absurd. Spying and attempting to subvert the government, that's a different ball game (since he wants to bring up the Rosenbergs.) But simply professing an ideology? Standing firm and telling a Senator that one's personal associations, absent any criminal activity, are none of his fucking business? That's only wrong to Republicans and the rest of the post-9/11 fearmongers.

    Yeah, this is the National Review after all...

    • I don't condone the Red Scare but I do understand where those conservatives were coming from.
      You have to understand the history--back then, communism wasn't the philosophy of gentle bearded hippies, it was the philosophy of STALINISM, and PURGES, and the CULTURAL REVOLUTION. It was about TOTALITARIANISM, the Domino Effect, overthrowing governments in Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia and Central America, and the destruction of Capitalism. It was about central planning and monolithic stupidity and denial of what the West considers basic human rights and freedoms to its citizens.
      Spain, a NATO member, was nearly overthrown by communist revolutionaries! Many US leaders thought that any means necessary should be taken to prevent communists from overthrowing the US.

      Once again, I don't condone what Joe McCarthy did, and he was rightly ousted from power because of his actions. However, understanding the background adds an entirely new dimension to the story.

      • jlindquist says:

        Oh, I understand the background quite well, thanks. I'm even old enough to remember Ronald Reagan's speeches denouncing the "Evil Empire", how creepy it was that the former head of the KGB had risen to become General Secretary, and somebody's offhand crack that we'd begin bombing in five minutes.

        And I can understand people of that time, or any other time for that matter, being fearful of totalitarianism, and bloody purges, and all the east bloc cultural baggage coming to pass here. What I do not understand is the blind, ignorant hysteria that assumed that people who bought into the notion of state ownership and even distribution of wealth automatically bought into state violence and oppression. Outside of the spies and saboteurs, I'd challenge anyone to find a persecuted American Communist of that era who fit that bill.

        It's not merely McCarthy who was wrong, but the nation's attitude at the time that allowed a demon like that to rise. And his actions in turn strengthened and justified the attitude. The answer to speech is always more speech. It's never blind patriotism, obedience, and enforced conformity. For Jonah Goldberg to once again claim that because all those people were Communists, then they were all bad, is to endorse that attitude again.

        That is the last thing we need right now.

        • I agree with you, but the thing you have to remember is that your definition of communism didn't exist to them, in fact, your definition of communism has never existed in any viable form of government.
          I like his analogy where you substitute Nazis for Communists. Of course, modern Nazis aren't about gas chambers, just about a strong state and fervent nationalism.
          But try to explain that to the masses when the hysteria starts over filmmakers potentially putting Nazi themes into our mass media.

          • jlindquist says:

            My definition of communism didn't exist to them because they didn't want to see it. They didn't care what those people actually believed, or what they did, only that they shared some views, philosophers, and a name with a vicious enemy. Whether that definition has existed in government is irrelevant.

            And modern Nazis aren't "just" about a strong state and fervent nationalism. They're sexists, racists, and homophobes who would happily disenfranchise everyone who isn't white, male, and straight if they somehow acquired any political power. That comparison is false on its surface, and only demonstrates that Goldberg is as ignorant as the political ancestors he apologizes for.

        • ronbar says:

          After Reagan, the head of the CIA became President of the United States. And now his scion is President and another ex-KGB/FSB head is President of the Russian Federation.

          Too many spooks for me. I can't stand the type. They're always brooding and awkward at parties and their eyes are haunted. If they'd just get everything off their chests about Roswell and the Tunguska blast of 1908 and the alien mothership on the far side of the moon, they'd not only sleep better, but they could get drunk without worrying about spilling the beans and causing grave damage to the national security!

      • flipzagging says:

        > You have to understand the history--back then, communism wasn't the
        > philosophy of gentle bearded hippies,

        Thankfully hippies had not been invented yet. But in the early part of this century, the general line of thought which included communism and socialism was an inspiration for anyone concerned that, you know, workers agitating for their rights shouldn't get shot.

        FWIW, I'm not, nor have I ever been, a communist -- I can't get behind an ideology that places a 'revolutionary vanguard' above the people it's supposedly working for.

        > Spain, a NATO member, was nearly overthrown by communist revolutionaries!

        I'm not an expert on the subject, but this is a distortion of history. The Spanish Revolution and Civil War had very complex origins -- starting with the corrupt constitutional monarchist government collapsing in a military coup. In the subsequent elections, the revolutionary parties won at the ballot box. These were a mosaic of anarchists, communists, socialists, anti-clericalists, and ethnic minorities -- who would oscillate in later years between fighting the fascists and fighting each other.

        Orwell's Homage to Catalonia provides a fascinating first-hand account. It's a short book, packed with stories of life on the front of a revolutionary war and also keen political analysis of its failures.

        To blame a worldwide communist conspiracy for overthrowing the Spanish government is totally laughable. The Soviet Union was always lukewarm about Spain, for self-interested strategic reasons, and ultimately withdrew its support entirely. There were opportunities for the West to encourage moderates, but that was impossible due to the perception that all encouraging *any* leftward tilt was to hasten worldwide communism. Instead, we preferred to see Spain run by a brutal dictatorship, all the way into the late 70s.

        There might be a lot of lessons to learn here. One ought to be careful about mistaking complexity as conspiracy. The situation in the Middle East today is almost as weird and confusing as the political environment in Spain was. When you start believing that all the elements we don't like -- Saddam Hussein, al-Qaeda, Palestinian terrorism -- are manifestations of the same conspiracy, you start doing incredibly dumb things.

        • ciphergoth says:

          Not all communists believe in a "vanguard party" - if I understand correctly that's a characteristic of Leninism, not necessarily of Marxism or of communism in general.

  4. vsync says:

    So why haven't I heard a word about this? I mean, I saw all kinds of articles and whatnot when he was being Academically Oppressed For His Views, but now that the gov't is claiming they've linked him to actual bombers and stuff, not a word. Media bias doesn't exist, though.

    Of course, it might also have something to do with the fact that I'm doing my best to ignore worse-than-useless "news" sources like local papers, anything that syndicates AP, or TV.

    • nogators says:

      Um, yeah, it was all over the "liberal" news. I heard it on NPR.

      • ronbar says:

        NPR's not liberal in any definition of the word I'm familiar with; they've got their own slant and their own agenda and cling to their existing power and influence just like any media outlet. They joined up with the National Association of Broadcasters in stopping low-power FM radio licensing from being a reality.

        My own crackpot theory is that they didn't want competition in the "alternative" radio market. Most low-power FM license applicants at the time NPR/NAB killed it were various small non-profits, community organizations, churches, and ham radio operators. Since some NPR affiliates are barely more than a hundred watts anyway, I don't think they wanted even the remotest possibility of being overshadowed in any market by those clowns down the street with a tower on their roof. Their claims of destructive interference were complete BS; long-standing cooperative licensing environments like the ham radio bands show that you don't need an active threat of federal law enforcement to resolve interference problems between stations.

        Then again, I have my own agenda. If low-power FM had been allowed, for a couple thousand bucks I could have reached a huge audience, living where I am in a tall building next to a couple major interstate interchanges, surface-level subway lines, and commuter rail lines.

    • It's been all over the place. I've seen it on the web, in print, on TV. You just missed it.

      What "news" sources do you think are good?

      FYI, here is the AP-syndicated NY Times story:

      So much for that yardstick.