Diana West, The Next Star Chamber
I have finally developed an axiom about Sen. Joseph McCarthy: The more one learns about McCarthy — facts, not the catechism of lies continuously recited like some demonic liturgy — the more one despises the mindset that reviles him.
If that sounds harsh, it is not a hasty formulation. In fact, after many years of thinking about McCarthy matters, it strikes me as the most natural reaction to the thinking of writers and educators who don’t want to know better, and the politicians who echo them. This mindset — “conventional wisdom” — fills the atmosphere with so much static, and gives cover to “experts” whose specialty is strangling the life out of truth.
So widespread is this mindset, however, that it is widely shared by notable American conservatives. These are McCarthy’s latter-day allies and supporters — that is, were they ever wake up from a chronic case of brainwashing (inspired by Stalin’s Kremlin) and realize it. Until then, they wander the public square, participating in communist-inspired rituals of anti-communist revilement. McCarthy destroyed innocent lives … bullied free-thinkers … didn’t have a list … never found a communist … unleashed “McCarthyism.” From the anti-communist perspective, the spectacle of “lost” allies, marching in step with the opposition while chanting its disinformation, is a strategic disaster.
With the American memory bank downsized to house only McCarthy’s so-called reign of terror during the so-called Red Scare, the lesson learned and taught and taught and learned is “Never Again.”
Never again what — destroy innocent lives…? (As the pre-eminent scholar of McCarthy’s political career, M. Stanton Evans, used to say, “Name one.”) No, the most dangerous repercussion of the anti-McCarthy movement, driving hard more than six decades after McCarthy’s death, is never again seek to expose the “enemy within.” Never again imagine the enemy within. In fact, there is no enemy within. After all, to believe otherwise is to engage in “McCarthyism.”
Did I say “McCarthyism”? As if to throw another sacrifice on the fire, cue neo-commuist ritual of anti-communist revilement … destroyed innocent lives … never found a communist … and never, not for one moment, ask yourself why you are participating in the fifteen-millionth Two Minutes Hate whipped up since McCarthy’s shocking death at the age of 48, or why it is that such hatred of this man still turns the axis of politics today.
This great American tragegy — the life and death of Joe McCarthy, and the unceasing desecration of his political afterlife — is something often on my mind. I used to think of it as a point at which America chose the wrong road. Now I see it as an illumination of how far America had already traveled along the wrong road. I continue to ponder ways through the sedimenatary layers of narrative rock to a clearer view of the man and the counterattack he led against “the enemy within.” What catalyzes these thoughts today, however, is what promises to be a new dump of old anti-McCarthy smears to be released tonight on the body politic as an “American Experience” documentary by PBS.
That’s according to The Wall Street Journal, which presented the first of many media stamps-of-approval in a review by Dorothy Rabinowitz. In her review, Rabinowitz applauds PBS for so many requisite, catechistic lies about McCarthy that it is only logical to expect the show to be the full-dress, hate-McCarthy ritual, from A (“he had no list”) to Z (“censure”).
Rabinowitz opens swinging with a series of rhetorical whacks at the old corpse: “this senator who prided himself on indifference to rules”…”who leveled charges of treason, however unfounded” … “ranting accusations of treason, based on no evidence.” These are the reliable triggers that for decades have gotten the flow of America’s collective juices going from reservoirs of stored McCarthy-hate. By this time, the technique may be more Pavlovian as a reflex than Orwellian as an exercise, but, as a preliminary, it calls to mind the first thirty seconds of Orwell’s Two Minutes Hate after which “any pretense was unnecessary.”
Rabinowitz goes on to list the PBS “McCarthy” highlights, key prompts from a tattered rap sheet. She opens with the 1950 Wheeling speech and list “205” communists, and moves on to the “book-burners” (McCarthy aides Roy Cohn and David Schine). She throws in “a conspiracy so immense,” the show’s subtitle, and George Marshall for good measure. She lingers over the documentary’s “haunting” footage … of witnesses “ordered to show up for interrogation over some radical group they once belonged to or perhaps still did,” and sneers over McCarthy “pursuing penetrating inquiries like `Are you writing now under the direction of the Communist Party?’ ” Next, she praises the angels of the morality tale (Eisenhower, Margaret Chase Smith and Edward R. Murrow), gives homage to the victims (James Aronson and Gerenal Zwicker), and moves onto clashes with the Army, and “Who Promoted Peress?” This quickly takes us to the endgame: the Army-McCarthy hearings and censure.
And nary a Soviet agent or communist under Kremlin discipline in sight.
This is not history but agit prop, and whatever efforts I make to prove it again this time are still possible thanks to the landmark, carefully researched, revisionist political biography of McCarthy, Blacklisted by History: The Untold Story of Senator Joe McCarthy and His War on America’s Enemies by the late M. Stanton Evans. For Americans without direct memory of McCarthy’s life and times — everyone, say, under the age of 75 — Evans’ book, published in 2007, offers a clean window on the past plus the means to check the dirty tricks of the present. Personally, I found the book’s findings in original sources so liberating that I subsequently wrote a revisionist history of my own, American Betrayal, for which I was dubbed “McCarthy on Steroids,” which was far too generous.
That said, I would like to start with a passage I picked up along the way from Barry M. Goldwater’s memoir, With No Apologies. Published in 1979, Goldwater presented a singularly dramatic piece of evidence vindicating McCarthy’s investigations into the covert penetration of our government and defenses by communist or pro-communist assets. Summarizing the “McCarthy era” in a few pages, Goldwater writes:
No one seemed to notice that after the furor faded the Army’s top secret operations at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, which had been the subject of one of McCarthy’s attacks, were quietly moved to Fort Huachuca, Arizona. Carl Hayden, who in January 1955 became chairman of the powerful Appropriations Committee of the United States Senate, told me privately Monmouth had been moved because he and other members of the majority Democratic party were convinced security at Monmouth had been penetrated. They didn’t want to admit McCarthy had been right in his accusations. Their only alternative was to move the installation from New Jersey to a new location in Arizona. (Emphasis added.)
Come again? The Army moved certain top secret operations from New Jersey to Arizona because the Senate Democratic majority was persuaded McCarthy was right about the systemic security nightmare his investigations had revealed?
You don’t have to know how savagely attacked McCarthy was (and plotted against by the Eisenhower administration) for these investigations to be rocked by the magnitude of Goldwater’s story. All you really need to know is that Fort Monmouth was Army Signal Corps headquarters, the center of a complex of secret radar and electronic warfare installations which also employed civilian personnel and contractors such as General Electric and RCA. If Goldwater’s recollection is correct, moving even some part of these operations across the country as a result of McCarthy’s findings stands as a concrete, steel and expensive admission that McCarthy did the nation an especially magnificent service in this final investigation he would ever lead, and which he was forced to suspend midway through in order to fight for his political life in the “Army-McCarthy” and censure show trials, which he lost.
I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for the PBS historians and filmmakers to discuss the Goldwater statement on the program tonight — let alone any other exculpatory material existing in the record as a testament to McCarthy’s unparalled courage for fighting the Swamp to expose and remove communists and pro-communists loyal to the Kremlin embedded inside the US government and defense establishment. I just want to throw a marker down for this great American, for the record, before he is once more raised from the dead and forced to to turn on a rack while yet another star chamber condemns him.