Wild-Eyed Myth Encounters the Real Joe McCarthy
By Curt Lovelace
At Friendship Street School in the early 1950s, we were taught that hiding under our school desks would save us from nuclear attack –- which, in the lingua franca of the day, the Satan-loving Commies in the Kremlin were poised to rain down upon us at any moment. These exercises were the famous “duck and cover” drills.
Yet, while we feared Communist-initiated death from the skies, as a nation we tolerated -– even fostered -– Soviet activity within our own government. While trying to find a place to hide from nuclear destruction, we somehow felt safe enough to vilify Joseph McCarthy, a U.S. senator from America’s heartland who tried to root out the Reds from service in our federal apparatus. So successful were efforts against the senator that the term McCarthyism has become synonymous with wild-eyed fanaticism.
I recall the tales of Joe McCarthy and the anxiety of the 1950s. At the very onset of the Cold War, Americans were told whom we ought to fear, and it wasn’t so much the Communists, though they were bad enough. Why, it was McCarthy and his “ism” that brought terror to men’s hearts.
But was this any way to treat a former ally of WWII? If so, why? Why the about-face to the Soviet Union? This is one of the questions M. Stanton Evans tries to answer in his recently released Blacklisted by History: The Untold Story of Senator Joe McCarthy and His Fight Against America’s Enemies. According to Evans, the real Joe McCarthy has been lost, “vanished into the mists of fable and recycled error.” This new 600-plus-page book is an attempt to separate fact from myth, and in the process, Evans shows McCarthy to be, yes, human (his foibles are not overlooked), a whistleblower, and (gulp!) a patriot.Coulter Factor
The recovery of the historical McCarthy as a genuine patriot is just one of many reasons liberal academics and “objective” modern journalists might hate this book. Then, of course, there’s the fact that Ann Coulter liked it. Coulter has written positively, in fact, glowingly, about McCarthy in her own book, Treason: Liberal Treachery From the Cold War to the War on Terrorism. She has also penned an essay titled “Joe McCarthy invented the Internet.”
In her review of Blacklisted, Coulter writes, “The true story of Joe McCarthy, told in meticulous, irrefutable detail . . . is that from 1938 to 1946, the Democratic Party acquiesced in a monstrous conspiracy being run through the State Department, the military establishment, and even the White House to advance the Soviet cause within the U.S. government.”
Not quite done, she in her typically understated manner says Blacklisted “proves that every conventional belief about McCarthy is wrong.” For example:
* “That he lied about his war service: He was a tailgunner in World War II”
* “That he was a drunk: He would generally nurse a single drink all night”
* “That he made the whole thing up: He produced loads of Soviet spies in government jobs”
* “That he just did it for political gain: He understood perfectly the godless evil of communism”
Evans links names of Communists and fellow-travelers to the agencies of the federal government in which they worked as well as to the Soviet or Communist organizations to which they belonged. These federal agencies include the FBI, headed by radical anti-Communist J. Edgar Hoover. The Bureau was excoriated in the 1940s and 1950s for a lack of knowledge regarding the Communist Party and its various front organizations. The FBI was accused of both withholding facts from President Harry Truman and of allowing Reds to run riot in the federal bureaucracy. But according to Evans, the “FBI was neither fooled by nor indifferent to Soviet penetration efforts in the 1940s. Nor was it unaware that the Communist Party USA was a creature of the Soviet Union, up to its ears in spying, pro-Moscow influence schemes, and other species of subversion” (p. 136).
Evans devotes an entire chapter (11) to Hoover and Truman, quoting from numerous internal FBI memos that prove not only that Hoover knew about the Communist threat, but also that he informed the President and administration. The chapter concludes with a copy of the “FBI Master Chart” from Hoover’s files. The chart offers an overview of memos, and other information, that were disseminated to the White House, the Office of the Attorney General, and federal agencies that employed suspected or known Communists.
Reason to Be Cocky
According to an AP report released late in 2007, Hoover had planned to arrest 12,000 Americans whom the FBI had evidence demonstrating disloyalty to their country. Evans contends that many in positions of authority knew how great was the infiltration of our government by those who would destroy it. Evidently, when in 1956 Nikita Khrushchev asserted, “We will bury you,” he had reason to be cocky. He knew what Hoover and McCarthy and Rep. Martin Dies before him all knew: The U.S. government was deeply compromised.
Dies, a conservative Democrat from Texas, was the “first and longest-serving chairman of what would become the House Committee on Un-American Activities” (p. 49). McCarthy, by the way, was never a member of this House committee, though his name is inextricably linked to it. He was a Senator, not a member of the House of Representatives.
According to common folklore, McCarthy “was spreading hysteria about an ersatz internal Communist threat and smearing innocent people as subversives, without a shred of evidence to go on” (p. 15). That story was and is knowably false, as Evans has so well demonstrated.
But one wonders why today that convenient mythology is held onto so fervently by liberal types who applaud propagandists Al Gore and Michael Moore for their respective Nobel Peace Prize and Academy Award. Perhaps today’s Left seeks refuge in victimhood, feeling an affinity with those poor, afflicted anti-American souls upon whom Joe McCarthy unleashed what is now recast as a torrent of “hate” and “vitriol.” Perhaps, modern Leftists hope to forestall scrutiny of their work lest their anti-Americanism is exposed to the common people and their time in the sun be all too brief.Leftist elitism runs rampant in our media, our universities, even in our pulpits today. As during the Cold War, one wonders about the loyalty and even the intelligence of those who offer aid and comfort to the enemies of our nation. For example, what makes today’s liberal think that, if radical revolutionaries –- whether domestic born or foreign controlled -- should scuttle the American experiment, that liberals themselves won’t be first in line for membership in the vast left-wing gulag or next on the executioner’s schedule?
Evans provides something of an answer to this question. He points out that the Communists who were exposed in Britain and the United States tended to be of the “upper crust.” McCarthy’s targets, Evans writes, “often as not, were Ivy League respectable types in the mold of Hiss or Duggan” (p. 64). Alger Hiss, of course, is one of the most well-known names in American treachery. Evans describes him as “a well-bred, respectable type with all the right credentials.” Hiss was “one of a numerous, often upscale, band of brothers. William Remington, Donald Wheeler, Henry Collins, Duncan Lee, Laurence Duggan, Robert Miller, and others involved in Red machinations in the United States had been to the best schools, spoke in cultured accents, and had upper-crust connections” (p. 62).
Of Republic of Freedom
Flash-forward to the present and we see that today’s Leftist tends to be from Harvard or Yale and has, if not buckets of money, at least access to lots of cash. Much as with the European aristocracy of old, nationality means little to this modern nobility. Patriotism is something to be scoffed at, ridiculed, and perhaps outlawed. “Wrapping oneself in the flag” is a negative, outmoded manifestation of peasantry. The global gentry has the ability to see beyond that kind of primitivism to a time and place in which the ever-growing “compassionate” state (manned, not jailed, by that very same nobility) orders our existence. After all, they are smarter than we the people. Isn’t that why the “smartest woman in the world” wants to be President?
The political affiliation of these respectable haters of the republic of freedom has changed little. Nor has their Marxian ability to change viewpoints to suit their need been affected by time. Evans points this up brilliantly when noting how Executive Privilege was then used to keep some federal employees from testifying before Congress regarding what they knew and when they knew it. As a member of the House, and later as Vice President, Richard Nixon would be party to those discussions, which more often than not upheld the right of Executive Privilege. He, however, would be extended no such privilege during his own time of crisis. “If Nixon had such expectations,” Evans writes regarding the Watergate investigation, “he was in for a rude surprise. It turned out that what had been a sacred constitutional precept when invoked by Ike against Joe McCarthy wasn’t so sacred when invoked by Nixon against Sam Ervin” (p. 580).
Although some may find that this admirable book could be more readable in parts, no student of history should shy away from this wonderful resource. It is well worth mining for nuggets and even whole veins of truth.In Blacklisted by History, Evans has written a truly timely book. He sets out to verify what McCarthy tried to tell the nation: that we were being overrun from within. Evans has made his case. Then, as now, there was more to concern America and her freedoms than bombs falling out of the sky.
Curt Lovelace holds degrees in political science and history, and pastors a church in rural Maine. His writings have appeared in Human Events, World, Chalcedon Report, and elsewhere.