This is not the ordinary way of evaluating the issue. You undoubtedly will lose some subscriptions. Perhaps you can be consoled by the fact that you probably have brought a very much-overlooked truth to the attention of many people who have more than an emotional approach to the problem of subversive investigation. Now you bring Christian philosophy.
How anyone can classify Senator Joes "blunders" as "occasional" is tough to understand One of your critics prays that you will change your policy I would much rather have it remain as it is. It couldnt be better. Hartnetts articles. At least AMERICA does not avoid an issue of raging current interest for fear that some subscribers who may be of different opinions will cancel their subscriptions. I do not agree in toto with Fr. Hartnetts evaluation of the purpose and scope of a congressional investigating committee in its relation to the Executive branch nor the value of the McCarthy subcommittee in particular, as related to the common good.
A hospital nun told me recently: "He is the only one who is fighting communism. I recently gave a friend one of your editorials Its editorial pronouncements on the anti-Communist drive are a continual source of irritation. I tried to be patient But lately they seem to be infecting others on the staff besides the Editor and even spreading unnecessarily into the book reviews. I have read and re-read "Congress, Communists and the common good. I regard Sen. McCarthy as a forthright fighter against subversion who has done more to expose traitors and near-traitors than have all his critics combined I also feel that How many Americans are connecting McCarthyism with Catholicism?
To me, Sen. McCarthy is a man of infinite courage. I thank God for such men as he in public life. My religion is my most precious possession. It is my conviction that your charge to the effect that Sen. McCarthy is splitting the Republican party, etc.
Louis, Mo. However, I disagree with your conclusion … In all equity, I ask you, who distracts public attention from important matters, Sen. McCarthy or the anti-McCarthy press? Little of the "new" information being brought forth today is really new at all. As the historian James T. Patterson-hardly a lefty-wrote in a recent review of Harvey Klehr's and John Earl Haynes's Soviet World of American Communism , the thesis the authors pursue is "neither new nor surprising.
Piece those details together and they add up to a big picture that was addressed and written about as early as the s.
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And this picture was written about not by right-wingers like Bill Buckley and Whittaker Chambers, but by liberals and social democrats like Irving Howe, Lewis Coser, Theodore Draper, and many others. As anyone who is reasonably familiar with the history of the period must know, the premise for most of the McCarthy rehabilitation literature is a sort of blanket historical amnesia.
To credit the revisionist argument, you must believe that mid-century liberalism denied the threat of domestic and global communism and took no stand against it. But this was scarcely the case. Not only mainstream liberals, but also most left-liberals and social democrats adopted a staunchly anticommunist stance from the middle s onward. The model here, of course, is Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. But Schlesinger was scarcely alone. The social democrat Walter Reuther employed stern and even draconian measures to purge communists from the CIO in the s. And even the perennial Socialist Party presidential candidate Norman Thomas supported efforts to ban communists from teaching positions on the grounds that they had surrendered their right to academic freedom through subservience to Moscow.
Von Hoffman's claim that "there was a formulaic, transparent insincerity about much of left-liberal anti-communism" is no more than a foolish libel. In fact, one of the many ironies of the s Red Scare is that the really effective work of purging communists and fellow travelers from the corridors of power and influence was done in the middle and late s, first in the public arena by men like Schlesinger and Reuther, and simultaneously by George Kennan, George Marshall, Dean Acheson, and other cold warriors in the Truman administration.
Von Hoffman's contention that Truman "wasn't looking very hard" for communists in government is a laughable misstatement. In any case, the heart of McCarthy's claim was never that there might be Soviet spies in the United States. For McCarthy, these facts were a given; but they were also recognized more or less across the political spectrum. McCarthy's essential claim was both more thoroughgoing and more ridiculous. Centering around the communist victories in China and Eastern Europe in the later s, McCarthy charged that Secretary of State Acheson had sold the country out to the communists; that the Truman administration was riddled with subversion; and that the men who had guided the country for the previous 20 years were dupes of the communists, or worse.
The difference between what McCarthy was alleging and what was actually the case is not one of degree; it's fundamental and total. And it stretched from the moment McCarthy began his career as an anticommunist to the day he finally wore out his welcome on the national stage. Moreover, what has become increasingly clear as the years have passed is how deeply partisan were the motivations for McCarthy's attack. The terrific anxieties of the early Cold War period were a necessary precondition for the McCarthyite Red Scare, but not a sufficient one.
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McCarthy, in league with many other Republicans, whipped up the frenzy for partisan advantage. Angry that they had been barred from the corridors of power by the Democrats for 20 years, Republicans used everything they could to discredit the Roosevelt and Truman administrations, trampling civil liberties along the way. Many men and women realized that Soviet communism presented a grave threat to the United States in the international arena yet understood nevertheless that there were dangers too in abandoning the nation's traditions of civil liberties in a blind hunt to unearth not just communists and spies, but everyone who had ever sympathized or associated with them.
These people opposed McCarthy and his tactics not out of sympathy for communists or fellow travelers, but out of a keen appreciation of the damage the McCarthyite crusade was having on the nation's political culture. McCarthy's latter-day rehabilitators now deny the legitimacy of such a principled stance. Even the work of the more tepid revisionists, including those who grant that McCarthy himself made a travesty of anticommunism, often takes on a prosecutorial tone when addressing liberal anticommunists who may have defended fellow travelers on civil-libertarian grounds.
Take Ronald Radosh, a former member of the New Left, who has written a number of revisionist studies focusing on the Old Left-ranging from the trial of the Rosenbergs and the "Amerasia" spy case to an upcoming volume of the Spanish Civil War. In his writing on the Cold War, Radosh goes to some length to say that McCarthy, through his antics and lies, did much to discredit what he sees as the quite valid fight against the threat of communist subversion.
Still, he contends that there were no principled, civil-libertarian grounds on which to defend party members and fellow travelers. He is a native of New York City and a former practicing attorney. He received my B. His research interests are in 20 th century American urban history and racial and ethnic relations. He also is the co-author of American Conversations: From the Centennial to the Millennium, a collection of primary sources in American history after , published by Pearson in He has written a book entitled Building Dodger Stadium: Land, Power, and the Fate of Modern Los Angeles for Princeton University Press, in which he used the struggle over the construction of the iconic ballpark between and to examine arguments over civic identity in an emerging 20 th century American supercity.
In he co-edited Learning for a Lifetime: Liberal Arts and the Life of the Mind at Lawrence University , a volume of essays by Lawrence alumni on the impact of liberal education on their professional, intellectual, and personal development. Credits: This legacy story was excerpted from a presentation Prof. Podair delivered to the Appleton Historical Society.
The editors of Americans All have made minor, non-content edits to fit our template, have added hyperlinks to the biography to enable students to place the story and individuals in a historical context, created the montage and added the sidebar logos. All images are in the Public Domain and available in multiple locations on the Internet. Podair but can be used for educational purposes with proper attribution to Prof.
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