There is a powerful vested interest that many in America have in keeping the reputation of Senator McCarthy soiled, whatever the historical evidence shows. Supposedly, McCarthy abused his vast powers as a senator to destroy innocent reputations. Rarely do his opponents stop to consider, even in passing, the obvious facts of his career.
Raised a Roosevelt Democrat, Judge McCarthy could have avoided military service because of his office. He volunteered. Although McCarthy probably could have found a safe office job stateside, he flew missions in one of the most dangerous combat roles in the Second World War — tail gunner on a B-17. When Joseph McCarthy returned to Wisconsin, he ran as a Republican and broke ranks with other Wisconsin politicians by actively campaigning in black neighborhoods and shaking hands with black voters. He also supported civil rights legislation that ended de jure discrimination against blacks.
There was much else ennobling about this brutally smeared man. Long before the invention of words like “homophobia,” Senator McCarthy revealed that he was neither hateful towards gays nor hostile to Jews: his closest advisor was Roy Cohn, a homosexual Jewish lawyer from New York. Cohn, long after it was politically prudent to do so, defended his dead boss, maintaining that the senator was right, not wrong. Unlike so many Washingtonians, who view marital vows like political campaign promises, Senator Joseph McCarthy adored his wife and she him.
The Kennedy family supported Joe McCarthy, and Robert Kennedy worked on Senator McCarthy’s Senate subcommittee. Exactly how much formal power did the senator have? He was the chair of a Senate subcommittee for a few years — that’s all — and how this over time has magnified Senator McCarthy into someone as powerful as, say, former Ku Klux Klansman Robert Byrd, who was elected by fellow Senate Democrats to be their leaders, is example of the Stalin-like re-writing of history to create huge monsters to scare people.
As Ann Coulter has meticulously shown in her magisterial Treason, the misinformation about Senator McCarthy is almost surreal. She cites the example of his critics placing the Senator, somehow, as Chairman of the House Committee on Un-American Activities, noting that “HUAC” was even the answer to a New York Times crossword as the body McCarthy used (Ann even pointed out, when Bill O’Reilly said that “Everyone knows that McCarthy destroyed lives with the House Committee on Un-American Activities,” that O’Reilly had cited a specific example of how wrong the Senator’s critics were about basic facts of his career.)
Maurice Stanton Evans has written an even more specific defense of Senator McCarthy, Blacklisted by History, which has been reviewed in The New American and which persuades all but the unpersuadable that McCarthy was right and his critics wrong.
Beyond her work, scholars who have examined Venona decryptions, the blatant admissions of Soviet agents (like Ted Hallstein), and a huge variety of other evidence, produce absolutely compelling evidence that, indeed, Soviet agents penetrated American government, American institutions, and American life. Few of his critics have questioned other very high profile Soviet penetration of other Western nations. Willy Brandt’s private aide, for example, was a Stasi spy. Kim Philby, Guy Burgess, and Donald McClean are not accused of being falsely accused Soviet spies (defecting to the Soviet Union, reaching the rank of general in the KGB, and bragging about your treason, as Philby did, may make it harder to defend them.)
If the Soviets penetrated the governments and institutions of other Western democracies, why would they not penetrate American institutions? Soviet doctrine, from very far back, had identified America as the “main enemy.” American society has always been relatively open. Huge numbers of immigrants came to America from Europe. Do the critics of McCarthy presume that some scruples of Communists would have stayed their intrigue? These were, of course, the same folks who actively supported Nazi Germany from August 1939 through June 1941. Marxism explicitly rejects the very sort of scruples which McCarthy’s critics seem to feel Soviets who honor in dealing with America.
Moreover, long before McCarthy, former American Communists were writing books explaining in great detail about the treason of their former party members. Louis Budenz, for example, was editor of the Daily Worker. He revealed in This is My Story all the machinations of American Communists, including their interest in doing anything to help destroy the fabric of American society. Kenneth Goff did the same in his book, Confessions of Stalin’s Agent. Benjamin Gitlow, perhaps the leading American Communist at one point, showed much the same mendacity and treason in, The Whole of Their Lives. Most of these books, and other similar books, not only preceded McCarthy but preceded Whitaker Chambers. The question should not have been “Who knew about the depth of Soviet penetration of America?” but rather “What ostriches did not know about this highly predictable vector of treason?”
Critics of McCarthy, of course, deal wholly in ad hominem attacks and on defamation of those who grasp the catastrophic consequences of Soviet operations in America. China was lost because of Soviet agents of influence, who drew a diabolical picture of the pro-Western and Christian Chiang and who actively sabotaged the Republic of China. We not only live today with an unfriendly, authoritarian regime in China, but we lost our most logical ally in the battle to form a free planet rooted in strong moral values, which is what China would have become. (Taiwan, today, is vastly more productive and free than Red China.) The Chinese people suffered a holocaust probably worse than any in human history — all preventable, if the monster Mao did not establish a Marxist regime in China.
Why was Senator McCarthy so insistent that our nation face the threat of Communism seriously? Why couldn’t he, as some have suggested, simplyhave left the issue aside? It was not just because the threat was not over. It was because a man like Joseph McCarthy, who had fought in war, who had fought against bigotry in America, and who maintained a steadfast faith in God, knew just how horrific a price mankind had paid on account of that awful treason. This, however, is something that the Southern Poverty Leadership Center will never, ever, admit.
Photo: Sen. Joseph McCarthy chats with his attorney Roy Cohn during Senate Subcommittee hearings on the McCarthy-Army dispute.