Only One Victim Of "McCarthyism"

by F.R. Duplantier

When liberals accuse conservatives of "McCarthyism," they're engaging in the very practice they claim to abhor. They're employing the infamous smear tactics of innuendo and guilt by association.

"McCarthyism" is a noxious term, so much so that any public figure accused of it becomes an instantaneous pariah. "McCarthyism" is also an ironic term, for two reasons. First, Senator Joseph McCarthy never engaged in any of the tactics associated with the term "McCarthyism." He did not make wild, unsubstantiated charges against hundreds of innocent people. He smeared no one. Second, the few dozen government employees that McCarthy did accuse of being Communists were just what he said they were. There was sufficient evidence then to warrant investigation of the figures he named. In the last four decades, the guilt of these person has been firmly established, and materials recently released from Soviet archives only add to the crushing weight of existing evidence.

If anything, McCarthy did not go far enough, concludes former FBI Assistant Director Ray Wannall. "The National Security Agency's release of the 'Venona' documents, intercepted communications of Soviet KGB officers in the United States to their bosses in Moscow, suggests that McCarthy's charges of government infiltration understated the reality," says Wannall. The Venona papers "underscore the fact that our government was massively riddled with Americans in high-ranking positions who were tilting policy to serve Soviet ends and engaging in espionage, including sharing our atomic secrets with Stalinist Russia."

Wannall argues that McCarthy had good reason to be "especially concerned about the State Department. Not only had the department been infiltrated by such high-ranking officials as Alger Hiss," but thousands of government personnel "had been merged into the department from other agencies following World War II," without first being screened for Communist affiliations and other security risks.

In 1948, two years before McCarthy leveled the charges that provoked a storm of simulated outrage, the House Committee on Un-American Activities reported that "there have been numerous Communist espionage rings at work in our executive agencies which have worked with and through the American Communist Party and its agents to relay to Russia vital information essential to our national defense and security. Russian Communists have worked hand in hand with American Communists in these espionage activities."

"In the wake of what we knew about communism and how thoroughly our government had been penetrated by Soviet agents before Joe McCarthy exploded onto the political scene," Wannall observes, "it is difficult to understand how so many Americans rallied to the anti-McCarthy cause, or how the term 'McCarthyism' has taken on such a derisive tone." Wannall contends that many of McCarthy's critics were "apprehensive about what he might reveal concerning them and their friends, and they reacted with fury," using the very tactics that we have all been conditioned to associate with Joe McCarthy. History will record, however, that the only person smeared during the McCarthy era was McCarthy himself.

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