Saturday, June 17, 2017

McCarthyism, Then and Now

Via Jerry

While the Cold War was going on, many intellectuals saw the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics as the embodiment of a utopian future and the champion of worldwide liberation.  But today Russia represents “the wrong side of history.”
Before calling the reader’s attention to a year-old Claremont Review of Books article which compares Donald Trump to Joseph McCarthy, I should first make clear that I do not regard this comparison to be such an unambiguous condemnation of the president as those steeped in liberal mythology might think. Admittedly, Senator McCarthy had some negative traits now frequently associated with President Trump: an opportunistic streak, a predisposition to make reckless allegations, a willingness to further his political career by exploiting prevailing anxieties. Yet while Hollywood may teach the public that the most important Cold War story is that of celebrities persecuted under McCarthyism, the historical record suggests otherwise. So too do documents pointing to the active collaboration of liberal intellectuals in a Communist project based upon forced labor camps, torture, and mass-murder. McCarthy’s claim was that the American elite of his day was riddled with Marxists and Marxist sympathizers bent upon overturning America’s moral, cultural, and constitutional order. However flawed the senator may have been personally, who would now say that his grasp of the situation was entirely wrong?

In his Claremont Review article, William Voegeli notes of McCarthy that

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