Come. Take my hand. Let us wander down certain dusty and half-forgotten corridors of history and see if we may learn something that might protect us from ourselves today.
Do you remember Joseph McCarthy? Ah. I see a few hands. Good.
For the rest of you, Joseph McCarthy was a US Senator (1947-1957) from Wisconsin who has the dubious distinction of being possibly the single most despicable, evil, corrupt, self-serving, morally and ethically bankrupt senator in American history. That’s saying a lot. Too many of today’s crop of politicians have set a low bar indeed, but none—not even his most ardent imitator, the evil and corrupt Harry Reid—has yet surpassed him. McCarthy is remembered vaguely today as having something to do with persecuting purported Communists with the collusion and happy cooperation of the FBI—which should tell you a lot right there about how much you can trust the FBI—but he achieved so much more. He was responsible for destroying the lives of thousands of Americans without the slightest justification, due process, evidence, proof, or even moral conviction (apparently after he lost power, he once admitted to a reporter or biographer that he had no convictions about what he was doing; that it was only for the cynical and contemptible purpose of advancing his career and wielding power). The list of famous, talented, brilliant lives he destroyed is too long, literally far too long, for me to enumerate, but after ruining many of the brightest and best in the governmental and diplomatic worlds, McCarthy turned his tender mercies on the private sector, focusing primarily on the world of the arts. Writers, playwrights, screenwriters, actors, directors, composers, musicians; McCarthy was indiscriminate in his cunning and venomous attacks. To go from one ludicrous extreme of the spectrum to another, consider the alpha and the omega: Albert Einstein at one end, stripper Gypsy Rose Lee at the other. Gypsy Rose Lee. Blacklisted. Yeah, McCarthy and the FBI made America is sooooo much safer.
One of the techniques McCarthy used was to say (I’m paraphrasing): “If you don’t give us the names of people you suspect of being communists, that is proof that you are yourself a communist.” A no-win situation for many a poor and courageous American back in those black days.
And that technique brings us up to today’s bumper crop of politicians vying for the coveted McCarthy Award.
Progressive cupcakes, the delicate little collegiate flowers who demand trigger warnings and safe spaces, student and professor alike, use a truly moronic—cunning, but still moronic—tactic when they have hysterics over anyone disagreeing with them about anything, and that is to claim the act of disagreeing is ipso facto proof of some dreadful and hateful prejudice: racism, xenophobia, homophobia, whatever the topic may be, the whole panoply of ills progressives claim only they are free of.
It’s the kind of stupidity one has sadly come to expect all too often in the halls of academia, but when it pervades even the halls of congress, that changes the equation, and it harkens back to the evil of Joseph McCarthy.
I was reminded of Joseph McCarthy while watching Adam Schiff on television the other night after the Republican memo had been released. He was asked about his claims there would be a grave threat to national security if the Republican memo on the Steele dossier were to be released by President Trump; he was asked to explain what exactly in the memo constituted such a threat. Instead of answering the question, after attempting to evade it once or twice, he pulled a progressive, McCarthy-esque (or whiny sophomoric cupcake) tactic out of the bin and accused the reporter of, “…carrying water for the Kremlin.” In other words, if you disagree with me, or if you even challenge me, it is ipso facto proof you are the enemy.
I want to be very clear here: Adam Schiff is not the only politician to resort to using this completely vacuous adolescent tactic. He just happens to be one of the most obvious and loathsome—and downright creepy—but far too many, on both sides of the aisle, including all too frequently our president, rely on attack, vilification, name-calling, hateful labeling, and sometimes even simple-minded obscenities.
To have lost the tools of civilized debate—reasoned argument, logic, real evidence, hard and verifiable facts—and to be reduced to ugly smears and innuendo and sneering accusations, is bad enough among junior high school students, worse still in the halls of colleges and universities, but in the highest levels of government it reduces our elected officials to meaner and craftier—though not as courageous—versions of those benighted third world political venues where fistfights break out on the floors of parliaments.
Come on, Mr. Schiff! Be a man and just punch the reporter in the face. It will prove you have no valid argument or facts to support whatever your latest your claim is, but at least it’ll show you have the courage of your lack of convictions.