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From the Pen of David Horowitz: September 30, 2009

Posted on September 30 2009 12:49 am
David Swindle is the Managing Editor of NewsReal Blog and the Associate Editor of FrontPage Magazine. Follow him on Twitter here
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This is not to say, of course, that McCarthy’s response to Communism was not destructive.  In his hands, the struggle against this fifth column was perverted first into a weapon aimed at the Democrats and ultimately into a scattergun aimed at his own party, at America, and finally at himself. His reckless demagoguery did damage to innocent people, and the atmosphere created by his success cast a pall over the political arena.  It imperiled the democratic process, and it destroyed the credibility of anti-Communism itself.  Robert Lamphere, the head of the FBI counterintelligence team that caught the Rosenbergs, has since said, “Senator McCarthy’s crusade, which was to last for the next several years, was always anathema to me.  McCarthy’s approach and tactics hurt the anti-Communist cause and turned many liberals against legitimate efforts to curtail Communist activities in the United States.”  Whittaker Chambers saw the problem with McCarthy at the time the problem was unfolding: “All of us, to one degree or another, have come to question his judgement and to fear acutely that his flair for the sensational, his inaccuracies and distortions … will lead him and us into trouble.  In fact, it is no exaggeration to say that we live in terror that Senator McCarthy will one day make some blunder which will play directly into the hands of our common enemy and discredit the whole anti-Communist effort for a long while to come.”

As a result of Truman’s internal security programs, many Party members did lose their jobs in institutions considered vital to the nation’s defense and survival- in government, in the media, and in education.  But with extraordinarily few exceptions, they were not fired from government agencies and other institutions for holding “unpopular ideas,” as the Communists themselves maintained and as the mythology that has grown up around the McCarthy period still holds.  They were fired for being members of (or for refusing to cooperate with inquiries into their membership in) an organization that was subservient to a hostile foreign power and whose purposes were inimical to American democracy.  Thus Columbia University justified its policy of excluding Communists from its faculty in the following statement (of which Lionel Trilling, spokesman for American liberalism, was one of the authors): “Membership in Communist organizations almost certainly implies a submission to an intellectual control which is entirely at variance with the principles of academic competence as we understand them.”

Destructive Generation by Peter Collier and David Horowitz

Today’s Horowitz quote of the day was selected as an answer to the questions of such commenters as KuhnKat, The Inquisitor, and Sovereign Jim.

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