Perhaps no American myth is more universally accepted as factual or more frequently used to automatically discredit a critic of the current progressive meme than the myth of Senator Joe McCarthy. The myth has even been elevated to an “ism”. Using the pejorative label of McCarthyism or McCarthyite is equivalent to Nazi.
McCarthy’s targets were communists of the cold war era directed by the USSR who had since the 1920s penetrated every level of government, every news organization, most large American corporations, and public institutions. If you doubt this level of infiltration actually happened or its effectiveness, you should read the book ‘Witness’ by Whitaker Chambers.
A myth is still a myth. This mythological rewrite of history has been out there for so long, served the left so well, and accepted without question by so many that it is doubtful it will ever yield to the truth as long as it is useful to the myth’s proponents.
The Media and Joe McCarthy
From PJ Media: BY DAVID SOLWAY, MARCH 5, 2018
The mid-20th Century scandal involving Joseph McCarthy’s investigations of communist infiltration into the U.S. government has become an American myth, and “McCarthy” a handy term for a witch-hunter. Like Benedict Arnold,* Joe McCarthy figures, perhaps permanently, in the devil’s hornbook of America’s legendary scoundrels. In the words of the generally staid Encyclopedia Britannica: “The term has since become a byname for defamation of character or reputation by means of widely publicized indiscriminate allegations, especially on the basis of unsubstantiated charges.”
A serious consideration of the evidence, however, strongly suggests that those who use the term may be the ones guilty of “indiscriminate allegations.” It struck me that I had often used the label “McCarthyism” as if it were an eponymous epithet for a despicable historical figure that did not bear examination or defense. It was a simple fact. I was, of course, influenced chiefly by the media. I used to believe when I was younger in the veracity of print, like the character Mopsa in The Winter’s Tale, who crooned: “I love a ballad in print, alife, for then we are sure they are true.” Mopsa today would implicitly trust the big-ticket TV networks. As a former employee of the CBC, I did precisely that.
Contemporary reassessment of McCarthy’s legacy, a much-needed expansion of William Buckley and L. Brent Bozell’s 1954 McCarthy and His Enemies, was launched by M. Stanton Evans, whose 2007 Blacklisted by History is a massively detailed and scrupulously researched attempt to rescue McCarthy’s reputation. Evans writes: “So deeply etched is the malign image of McCarthy that the ‘ism’ linked to his name is now a standard feature of the language.” He concludes, after some 600 meticulous and fact-filled pages: “The real Joe McCarthy has vanished into the mists of fable and recycled error … It’s plain that McCarthy was more sinned against than sinning, and that on the central issues he was chiefly right and his opponents chiefly in error.”**
More recently, Diana West took up the cudgels in American Betrayal, and has reaped the whirlwind for her effort to rehabilitate the senator from Wisconsin. West alleges a cover-up, “perjury and grand-jury rigging by, among others, high-ranking Washington officials … eager to prevent a national security scandal from engulfing the Truman White House.” Like Evans, the evidence she provides — revelations from official archives in Washington and Moscow, FBI memos disclosing active espionage operations, reference to 5000 pages of Senate hearings and 24,000 pages of declassified records, names of agents in possession of secret documents, as well as tracing “gaps in the record” and significantly missing documents attesting to security risks, such as the Samuel Klaus 1946 memorandum — cannot be readily discounted.
If Evans and West are to be believed — and their argument is certainly persuasive — McCarthy has been unjustly smeared by the press and by antihistorical writing in general. As Wes Vernon writes in Accuracy in Media, “The media’s role in tilting the scales against the most controversial United States senator in the 20th century began the very moment he burst on the national scene in February of 1950.” It continues in one form or another to this day, often “mediated” through the anti-Trump mania that has consumed the Left and the FNM (Fake News Media). Trump is now regarded by the anti-anti-communist syndicate as a kind of McCarthy redivivus — all the more reason to explode the media fable.