Posted on | February 24, 2013 | 55 Comments
Senator Joseph McCarthy, a courageous and patriotic American.
“Senator Cruz’s substantive point was absolutely correct: in the mid-1990s, the Harvard Law School faculty included numerous self-described proponents of ‘critical legal studies’ — a school of thought explicitly derived from Marxism – and they far outnumbered Republicans.”
— Catherine Frazier, spokeswoman for Sen. Ted Cruz
Democrats and the major news media — but I repeat myself — have decided that Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s opposition to the Chuck Hagel nomination makes him the “New McCarthy.”
And they say that like it’s a bad thing.
Sen. Joseph McCarthy has been unjustly and dishonestly maligned for so long that even many conservative Republicans nowadays use “McCarthyism” as a slur, without any real understanding of who the man was, or what he was trying to accomplish.
Intellectuals who today think of themselves as the rightful heirs of William F. Buckley Jr. often seem to forget that the second book Buckley wrote, after God and Man at Yale, was McCarthy and His Enemies, which Buckley co-authored with his brother-in-law Brent Bozell (father of Brent Bozell III, who is today head of the Media Research Center). Buckley knew, as do all honest and intelligent students of the Cold War era, that even if one stipulates McCarthy made mistakes and had unfortunate personality traits, he was really a better man than his vindictive critics, and certainly more sincerely patriotic than the Communist enemies he sought to expose.
To truly understand this history, it is necessary at the outset for any student to make two crucial distinctions:
- McCarthy vs. ‘McCarthyism’ — Propagandists of the Left, including journalists and academics, have made Joe McCarthy a symbol of things for which he was not even remotely responsible. Joe McCarthy did not create a “Red Scare.” Concerns about Communist penetration of the federal government, and about Soviet espionage, existed before anyone outside Wisconsin had ever heard of Joe McCarthy. He was not repsonsible for “blacklisting” anyone in Hollywood or getting Communist teachers fired from public schools. Investigations of Communist subversion undertaken by the FBI and the House Committee on Un-American Activities preceded Joe McCarthy’s arrival in the Senate and continued for years after McCarthy was dead and buried in a Wisconsin grave. However, by demonizing McCarthy, and making him a scarecrow symbol for alleged wrongs that he had nothing to do with, leftists have attached to McCarthy’s name a radioactive taint that makes it difficult for people to separate the complex Man from the simplistic Myth.
- Espionage vs. Subversion — This is arguably the greatest stumbling block to understanding the dangerous Soviet-backed conspiracy that Joe McCarthy sought to expose. Many people erroneously believe that McCarthy was hunting for “spies,” but this is a gross misconception, both of what the Communist Party (CPUSA) was about and of what McCarthy was investigating. As was clearly evident to investigators at the time, and as has since been documented by information from Soviet archives and from declassified U.S. government sources, the CPUSA was at all times an instrument of Soviet policy. This was especially so during the era of Stalin’s dictatorship, when deviation from the Party line could be quite literally fatal. Beyond the (very real) spying conducted by CPUSA members — including clandestine “underground” members — there were also American Communists who sought to influence U.S. policy in a pro-Soviet direction, at a time when Stalin’s reign of terror extended across Eastern Europe and when Communists were actively advocating a violent worldwide Marxist-Leninist revolution. It was the network of pro-Soviet influencers, as agents of subversion, that was the real target of McCarthy’s investigations.
Years ago, I interviewed M. Stanton Evans, author of the definitive biography, Blacklisted by History: The Untold Story of Senator Joe McCarthy and His Fight Against America’s Enemies. Evans is a man who knew Bill Buckley well, and who helped draft the famous “Sharon Statement” that was in effect the charter of the modern American conservative movement. No living person knows more about Joe McCarthy than does Stan Evans.
After listening to Evans describe his research, during our interview I pointed out the distinction between espionage and subversion and Evans’s eyes lit up with excitement: “Yes! Exactly! You get it!”
What McCarthy was trying to uncover was the mystery of how and why Soviet agents inside the U.S. government had gone undetected for so long. Once anyone begins to seek answers to that question — even today, more than two decades after the Evil Empire imploded under the weight of its own folly — certain conclusions quickly become obvious: There were people in government who did not want these secret Soviet agents exposed, people who saw no need for caution toward employing CPUSA members (or members of Communist-backed front groups) in key government positions.
The atmosphere of suspicion for which McCarthy is blamed was actually the fault of Communists themselves, and of their misguided liberal defenders who either failed to understand the danger or else were inspired by political or ideological motives to be (as it was commonly said) “soft on Communism.” And, in point of fact, it was the attitude of these liberals — derided in Cold War slang as “dupes,” or “pinkos,” or “Commie symps” — that did so much to anesthetize America, to foster the idea that Soviet aggression and domestic subversion were exaggerated dangers, thus creating a stuporous indifference that made this subversion possible.
Communists created suspicion by the intense secrecy of their underground agents, and their sympathizers or “dupes” heightened this suspicion by celebrating those who pleaded the Fifth Amendment in refusing to testify to Congress about their involvement with the CPUSA and the Party’s various front groups.
Keep in mind that the U.S. fought a bloody war against Communist aggression in Korea and that, with the aid of traitorous spies, the Soviets had obtained atomic secrets, so that America was locked in a deadly nuclear standoff with Stalin’s paranoid regime.
Under such circumstances, weren’t Americans entirely right to be outraged at seeing witnesses, who were charged with no crime, hide behind the Fifth Amendment and refuse to tell Congress about what they did and who they knew during their involvement with the Communist Party. And if responsible authorities had failed to investigate whether persons employed by the federal government were affiliated with the CPUSA — and they quite clearly had so failed — wasn’t it important to determine whether these security failures were the result of incompetence? Furthermore, isn’t it unfair to say that McCarthy, in trying to identify the persons responsible for these lapses, was engaged in mere demagoguery or pursuing an irrational “witch hunt”?
The witches were real!
There were indeed Communists who had infiltrated the federal government. And there was every reason to believe that the officials responsible for the lapses of security that had permitted this infiltration were engaged in a cover-up intended to prevent anyone from learning whether these lapses were mere incompetence or rather, as many suspected, something far more sinister.
Don’t lecture me about the “civil rights” of dishonest villains who were willing stooges of the murderous totalitarian Josef Stalin, and don’t tell me that the faults or errors of Joseph McCarthy made him worse than the Communists he sought to expose.
Ted Cruz’s critics now seem to be pursuing an inventory of the Harvard Law School faculty to determine whether Cruz exaggerated the ratio of Marxists to Republicans, as if this would discredit Cruz more than it does Harvard. Any patriotic American would say that if Harvard Law employed even one Marxist professor, that was one Marxist too many.
There may be some people who would say that patriotism and Marxism are not contradictory. Such people are fools — or worse.
And if anyone wants to compare Sen. Ted Cruz to Sen. Joseph McCarthy, I hope Senator Cruz will thank them for the compliment.