The Truth & The Facts

 

Sen. Joseph McCarthy is rightly remembered as a liar and a villain: he knowingly made up facts and destroyed the reputations of people who were not involved in communist conspiracies against the United States. It’s entirely fitting that his name has become synonymous with persecution and witch-hunting.

Complicating the matter in terms of McCarthy’s legacy — though certainly not his integrity — is the fact that there absolutely was a Soviet conspiracy that had penetrated deeply in the United States’ government and that Tail-Gunner Joe was one of the major popularizers of that conspiracy’s uncovering. Perversely, and in no small part, the truth was exposed by a pack of lies.

As Ross Douthat argues, riffing off this John McWorter piece (which I don’t fully agree with, but heartily recommend), something similar is happening with regard to the current spotlight on policing in the wake of the Ferguson fiasco. On the one hand, it’s abundantly clear that the actual circumstances of Michael Brown’s death had nothing whatsoever to do with the “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot!” and “Black Lives Matter!” narratives that have been invented to describe it. On the other, as Douthat puts it:

When the Ferguson protests first broke into the national news I wrote a column about the problem of militarized police forces, a couple of blog posts about changing conservative attitudes toward criminal justice and the cops, and a post pushing back against conservative defenses of police militarization. All of these pieces reflected my (pre-existing) view that many of the grievances impelling the protestors in this story are legitimate, that with crime rates at their lowest post-1960s ebb we can afford to undertake reforms to reduce incarceration rates and limit “warrior cop” (and related) excesses, and that conservatives, in particular, have both a moral obligation to take the lead in such reforms (as many conservative-governed states and some national Republican politicians have done) and a political incentive to show minority communities that the G.O.P. is capable of questioning abuses of state power (and unionized overreach!) even when it isn’t a Republican constituency getting the short end of the stick.

I still believe all this. But I also think it’s clear that from the point of view of actual persuasion, as opposed to just mobilization — of reaching people who don’t follow these issues closely, or who might generally incline toward a different narrative, more pro-cop or just more pro-status quo — Ferguson is turning into a poor exhibit for the policy causes that it’s being used to elevate.

I think Douthat is understating the problem: one of Ferguson’s ultimate legacies is likely to be greater skepticism of arguments critical of some police tactics, because a major case premised on those criticisms has been shown to be based on misrepresentations and outright lies, and not for the first time. This is an entirely rational response, even if it’s the wrong one.

Joseph McCarthy left a lot of victims, not the least of which was the anti-communist cause; to this day, it’s frightfully easy to find educated non-leftists who can tell you exactly who McCarthy was, but who couldn’t identify Alger Hiss or the Rosenbergs to save their lives. Likewise, we’re witnessing a cultural moment in which Michael Brown’s name and image are known by everyone, while Cory Maye‘s is largely obscure.

Members have made 24 comments.

  1. Profile photo of Tom Meyer, Ed. Editor
    Tom Meyer, Ed. Post author

    Tom Meyer, Ed.: I think Douthat is understating the problem: one of Ferguson’s ultimate legacies is likely to be greater skepticism of arguments critical of some police tactics, because a major case premised on those criticisms has been shown to be based on misrepresentations and outright lies, and not for the first time. This is an entirely rational response, even if it’s the wrong one.

    Well, as if on que.

    • #1
    • December 3, 2014 at 2:14 pm
  2. Profile photo of Ansonia Member

    I’m not convinced there are a lot of racists among white police officers. I think it looks that way because there are, in this country, more black and hispanic areas in which crime is high, and people havn’t the connections and resources to retaliate when police mistreat them. While I don’t think police work draws racists, I do think it draws and shelters more brutal, controlling, power hungry people. Also, I think police work brings out the worst in people. I think it does that anywhere.

    • #2
    • December 3, 2014 at 4:55 pm
  3. Profile photo of Hank Rearden Inactive

    Use a little care when talking about McCarthy. You can’t name any uninvolved people whose reputations he knowingly destroyed because there aren’t any. McCarthy was careful and more importantly he was right.

    • #3
    • December 3, 2014 at 8:07 pm
  4. Profile photo of Gumby Mark Member

    Hank Rearden:Use a little care when talking about McCarthy. You can’t name any uninvolved people whose reputations he knowingly destroyed because there aren’t any. McCarthy was careful and more importantly he was right.

    How about George C Marshall whom he attempted to destroy and those in the US Army he went after in order to protect his aide’s boyfriend? McCarthy was a fraud who, as Whittaker Chambers predicted at the time, only damaged the cause of anti-communism by his recklessness and lack of credibility.

    • #4
    • December 3, 2014 at 8:38 pm
  5. Profile photo of Hank Rearden Inactive

    The Marshall thing was unfortunate, but Marshall was a public figure, well able to defend himself. And while McCarthy expressed himself unartfully, Marshall DID do a terrible job in China. Nobody now defends Marshall’s performance in China and his advice to Chiang to back off when Chiang had Mao on the ropes.

    On the Army, McCarthy was right that Peress was a communist. He was working at Ft. Monmouth and was promoted in spite of his politics. A perfectly reasonable case for McCarthy to investigate. The Army didn’t like it because it reflected badly on them, but that doesn’t mean that McCarthy was wrong to pursue it.

    McCarthy told Army Secretary Stevens that he had no special interest in Schine. Both Stevens and Walter Bedell Smith testified that they did not feel pressured by Cohn when he called them for favors for Schine. Very likely Cohn himself didn’t realize that he had a crush on Schine. In the famous hearings that I suspect you are referring to, it was the Army that was investigating McCarthy, not the other way round.

    In what way was McCarthy a fraud?

    • #5
    • December 3, 2014 at 9:16 pm
  6. Profile photo of captainpower Member

    Source for more info on McCarthy?

    • #6
    • December 4, 2014 at 8:14 am
  7. Profile photo of Larry Koler Member

    Hank, thanks.
    Most people only “know” or mostly know things about McCarthy from the deluge of propaganda from the left on this topic and on this era in our history.
    Ann Coulter covers a lot of this in her book, Treason. M. Stanton Evans was one of her sources. Also, let’s keep in mind what WFB thought: much more damage was done to McCarthy than was ever done by him to others.

    • #7
    • December 4, 2014 at 11:48 am
  8. Profile photo of Larry Koler Member

    Tom, nice post, though. My position is that the left is in control of the headlines and much of the content nowadays. Over time their lack of truthfulness has to work out against them — just because of the overkill on such topics.
    Still waiting, though….

    • #8
    • December 4, 2014 at 11:58 am
  9. Profile photo of Hank Rearden Inactive

    Larry Koler:Hank, thanks. Most people only “know” or mostly know things about McCarthy from the deluge of propaganda from the left on this topic and on this era in our history. Ann Coulter covers a lot of this in her book, Treason. M. Stanton Evans was one of her sources. Also, let’s keep in mind what WFB thought: much more damage was done to McCarthy than was ever done by him to others.

    If we just take post-WWII, then I think McCarthy can be seen as the first of the big Liberal lies sold to the public. The Dems found out that not only could they get away with putting party before country, they would be PRAISED for it. One of McCarthy’s problems is that he was a pre-TV guy in a new-TV age. He was by all accounts an excellent lawyer, and very likely he believed that facts + argument would carry the day. But he was not telegenic either in appearance or in mannerisms and that was a critical shortcoming.

    captainpower:Source for more info on McCarthy?

    “Blacklisted by History” by M. Stanton Evans. Reads like a thriller.

    • #9
    • December 4, 2014 at 1:33 pm
  10. Profile photo of Tom Meyer, Ed. Editor
    Tom Meyer, Ed. Post author

    Hank Rearden: “Blacklisted by History” by M. Stanton Evans. Reads like a thriller.

    I confess I haven’t read Evans, but Michael Moynihan’s review of it is pretty rough.

    As Mark noted, Whitaker Chambers apparently soured on McCarthy and thought he did far more damage than he did good.

    • #10
    • December 4, 2014 at 1:56 pm
  11. Profile photo of Hank Rearden Inactive

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:

    Hank Rearden: “Blacklisted by History” by M. Stanton Evans. Reads like a thriller.

    I confess I haven’t read Evans, but Michael Moynihan’s review of it is pretty rough.

    As Mark noted, Whitaker Chambers apparently soured on McCarthy and thought he did far more damage than he did good.

    Just read the Moynihan review.

    I was in college in the 1960’s and took a course on post-war American diplomacy. McCarthy was mentioned in that course, but was in no way an important figure in it. But reading material that included McCarthy, I suddenly realized for myself that the people criticizing McCarthy were the people that he had exposed. I.e., they were upset at being called out by McCarthy and the “terror” he created in them was not because he was wrong, but because he was right! I left it there. McCarthy was not a hot button, but I have taken that “insight” with me and have never had cause to revise it.

    I got it that there was still the First Amendment question of whether those people exposed by McCarthy didn’t have the right to remain in private with their thoughts rather than having them ventilated in the public forum. But that is a very different consideration than whether they were FALSELY exposed. So, to reemphasize, McCarthy became hated because he was right, not because he was wrong, because people didn’t want their activities exposed, not because he was mistaken in exposing them.

    As you wade through the McCarthy oeuvre, you have to take care that if someone wins a war, it can look to people who come after as if there was no war to fight because, after all, everything is fine. In McCarthy’s case, it is fair to say that one reason things turned out fine is because he was the guardian at the gate.

    McCarthy came on the scene in 1950. Alger Hiss came before McCarthy and there had been a red scare in the Truman admin. The line was not that there had been no reds in government, but that they had been rousted out by the security measures put in by Truman. The predicate for there having been reds in the government was already there. McCarthy did not dream that up.

    We come to China. Mao won the civil war against Chiang in 1949. At that time, with the Soviet takeover country by country in Eastern Europe and then China going red, it appeared as if we were losing World War III, and that became particularly a fear after the Korean War started in June 1950. McCarthy made his Wheeling speech in Feb 1950, so it was before the Korean War started, but the Korean War added salience to the question of whether our government, particularly the State Department, was loyal.

    It is pretty clear from Venona that in fact, State had been riddled with reds during the China episode. Marshall was sent to China to sort it out by Truman in late 1945 and stayed for 1946, It is generally agreed that Marshall was tired after WWII and in any case knew nothing about China. So he relied on experts.

    His go-to guy was Solomon Adler from Treasury. Would it concern you to know that after Adler retired from the U.S. government, he ended his days in Beijing working for (Red) Chinese intelligence? If you thought that the fate of China was of high consequence to the survival of the U.S., would that circumstance get your attention? This was long after McCarthy had departed the scene, but would that tend to affect your view of whether the China diplomatic cadre from the U.S. had some problem with its political sympathies? Which was McCarthy’s charge and concern.

    If you wondered about red influence in our China policy post WWII, would it concern you that our senior guy, John Stewart Service, roomed in Chungking, Chiang’s capital, with Solomon Adler, already mentioned, and Chi Chao-ting, who was sponsored in the delegation by Harry Dexter White in Treasury, subsequently identified as a Russian spy and spymaster? Would you be copacetic with the fact that Chi turned out to be a Mao agent and spent his subsequent years as an official of the Red Chinese government? Remember, Service spoke fluent Chinese and was a sophisticated guy. Chi and Adler worked on his dispatches. Does that give you pause?

    If you were anybody but McCarthy, you were cool with all of that. Only an ignorant troublemaker out for himself combing through the rubble of our China policy would be upset about that.

    And, if you WERE McCarthy and you WERE finding this stuff, would you be upset that NOBODY ELSE found your information of interest, of concern? Wouldn’t you begin to suspect that not only was there espionage, but there was conspiracy? Moynihan doesn’t mention any of this.

    Of course, we survived the red takeover of China, but it appeared of grave concern at the time, particularly with the start of the Korean War. It might have looked to a patriot as if the ship of state was being steered toward the rocks by enemies of the Republic.

    McCarthy found that the “reports” from Service, Davies and Vincent were of the nature of…”Mao represents the true soul of agrarian China and its future. He is surrounded by competent and dedicated people who have the best interests of the peasantry at heart, a sharp contrast with the corrupt fascism of the Chiang regime.”

    I made that up, but that was the nature of the “reports” flowing back to Washington, and remember in those days Washington was a long way away. So there is “reporting” and “reporting.” McCarthy drew this out. We know now that Mao murdered 60 million of his countrymen once in power. That had not happened at the time of the McCarthy investigations, but you can’t say he was on the wrong track.

    And after our “experienced China hands” had told Washington of the dedication of the reds to China’s future, would it concern you that when General Wedemeyer replaced Stilwell, he came to the conclusion that Mao had never fought the Japanese and in fact had a stand-off modus operandi with them so that he could conserve his forces for the civil war? This AFTER Mao had been lauded in dispatches for his war effort and Chiang denounced? I.e., that ALL the battles against the Japanese in China in WWII – our primary interest after all – had been fought by Chiang, but that this had been misreported to Washington by our people at State? Would that give you pause?

    All this malfeasance had been buried by the time McCarthy showed up on the scene. China was lost, in the past, why are you asking all these questions? Particularly of these fine public servants who now hold high positions? There were a lot of people, either directly involved, or simply present as part of the process during this disaster, that had no interest in having this case opened. Better to pretend that McCarthy is crazy, or partisan, or irresponsible than to simply answer his questions…what were you doing during the great Chinese civil war? A question that nobody wanted asked.

    Moving on to more general points. McCarthy was a constitutionalist. He did not pursue people beyond their government jobs. But he DID see a government job, particularly in the security apparatus – State, Defense, Tresurey – as a privilege, not a right. He did think it was appropriate to ask, if we are fighting a cold war against communist aggression – remember there WAS communist aggression in Eastern Euriope and in Asia – and we are losing that war, is it wise to have communists and/or communist sympathizers in charge of our policy-making?

    Then, as now, there was sympathy with and social contact between lefty government officials and lefty press people. Without it being a conspiracy, they sang off the same page. And there was general respect for government officials in those days. So McCarthy is very much peeing in the punchbowl when he comes in and questions the good faith of a number of them.

    McCarthy denouncers, and this is certainly true of the Moynihan review, treat the questioning of a government official about their past and present political activities as if they were being asked about their sex life. You are a senior official in State, involved in China, and the question comes up about your political views and background. Given that you are in a position to influence the fate of the Unied States, is it so unreasonable for that question to be asked? You could always say, “yes, I am a communist, what of it?”

    People who treat the McCarthy era as one of terror are those people whose backgrounds did not bear scrutiny. Suppose the history of Chicago in the 1930’s had been written by the Capone gang. Then, when Eliot Ness came to town, that started a “reign of terror.” Terrible things happened as upstanding members of the Mob were dragged before tribunals and asked about their taxes and their day jobs. Oh, the humanity! That is basically what you are hearing about McCarthy. He asked uncomfortable questions of people who had gotten comfortable supporting the enemy, either by policy or directly by spying.

    Annie Lee Moss. Considered a McCarthy disaster. Except that she was working in the coding room at the Pentagon and subsequently the Army decided that she WAS a red. And she goes down in the history books as an example of McCarthy’s excesses.

    Owsn Lattimore. A senior advisor on China but a complete shill for the reds in Asia. Nobody contests that now, but he is considered a black mark against McCarthy!

    Yes, there WAS a reign of terror in Washington. All the reds and fellow-travelers who thought (a) they could advance the red cause and (b) head toward a quiet retirement found the sheriff banging on the door.

    McCarthy got it wrong on Marshall and that was a big miss. Marshall is one of the great heroes of the country. But McCarthy was seeing so much sedition, and so little care by anybody else about it, that he was driven to see a conspiracy controlled from the top. He embarrassed himself with that. There WAS a conspiracy but it was controlled from Moscow, not from Washington.

    McCarthy was not a prosecutor. So the “fear” he was said to engender was…what? The fear was of exposure, Not the fear of jail. This was no tribunal. What was the worst that could happen? You lose your government job. That was the hell that McCarthy, if he was successful, could consign you to. And even then, only if he could convince someone else to fire you. McCarthy had no power to do that. And he never persecuted someone outside of government, with the exceptions of James Wechsler, who was a former red and well able to take care of himself and of Dashiell Hammett who was a current red and ditto.

    Here is the big problem. The Democrats had run the government for the last twenty years. If reds had marbled the government, which they had, and that had damaged the interests of the United States, which it had, what would that say about the Democrats’ right to rule?

    In order do protect that, anybody exposing the truth of red penetration had to be destroyed. The fact certainly could not be admitted. Particularly if it had had visible policy results such as the loss of China. So, the Democrats did what they always do, they put party before country. and found not only could they get away with that, they were praised for doing it! The only thing they had to do was to discredit the truth teller.

    McCarthy had called them out. That was the McCarthy terror. Because he did, the reds lost influence in the government and now people say there was never a threat. Maybe. There isn’t a threat from Germany either. But that does not mean there was no reason to fight the war.

    I’ll stop here.

    • #11
    • December 4, 2014 at 11:33 pm
  12. Profile photo of captainpower Member

    Hank Rearden: I’ll stop here.

    You mean you didn’t cover it all?

    Thanks so much for the comment. I am reminded how much I don’t know.

    • #12
    • December 5, 2014 at 12:17 am
  13. Profile photo of Larry Koler Member

    Two other things.
    Coulter tells us that McCarthy was FORCED by the Senate to reveal names PUBLICLY. He didn’t want to because they were not vetted.
    During WW2 there was a blacklist for Nazis and so it seems that blacklisting itself isn’t a problem. The left makes it seem that blacklisting was the problem. This was a great smoke screen for them. Since the USSR was a co-partner with the Nazis in starting WW2 we should have done much more in protecting ourselves from them when we were forced into using them as a temporary ally.

    • #13
    • December 5, 2014 at 12:39 pm
  14. Profile photo of Gumby Mark Member

    There is so much that is getting mixed up in these comments.

    First, the blacklist had nothing to do with McCarthy. That came out of a combination of the HUAC hearings and the desire of Hollywood to purge itself of communist influence something that happened before the rise of McCarthy.

    Second, the Executive Branch penetration of Communist agents run by Soviet spymasters occurred in the 1930s and 1940s. These rings were broken up by the revelations of the Soviet defector in Canada right after WWII and those of Elizabeth Bentley in the US right after that. These events, along with the Alger Hiss case and the exposure of the A-bomb spies, also happened before the rise of McCarthy. As far as I know no such rings existed at the time McCarthy began his crusade in February 1950.

    Third, the reason McCarthy was forced to make names public was because he was accusing the State Department of harboring 205 or 57 or 81 (all of which he used at various times) communist spies. When the Senate decided to hold hearings on his charges he was requested to name names.

    • #14
    • December 5, 2014 at 1:40 pm
  15. Profile photo of Larry Koler Member

    Mark, they didn’t have to be made public. This could have been done in secret — as decent people do when in government and serious charges are put forward.

    I’m glad OUR spy masters knew what was going — but we aren’t debating that. We are debating the telling of this history by leftists and the lies and distortions told to support our enemies against our interest.

    • #15
    • December 5, 2014 at 2:03 pm
  16. Profile photo of Hank Rearden Inactive

    As noted by Larry Koler here, McCarthy was forced to name names by Millard Tydings the Dem chairman of the committee investigating. This was partly to damage McCarthy, but more, it was based on the Liberal narrative that what McCarthy was saying couldn’t possibly be true. I.e., the Dems assumed that McCarthy would be as unethical as they were used to being.

    The question of whether McCarthy said 57 communists in the State Department, which was very likely the number he used in Wheeling, or 205, which was a number from a different calculation, is a complete red herring. Would McCarthy have been discredited, been a liar, if it had turned out there were 56 communists in State?

    The point was that McCarthy was saying there were A LOT. And he showed this to be the case. And they were frequently in sensitive policy making or senior diplomatic posts. How could this have happened? During the 1930’s a lot of people were attracted to the communist idea in part because the Great Depression was taken as evidence that capitalism had collapsed. But a lot of fell0w travelers and communist spies continued on and in the normal course of things got promoted to high positions.

    The Dem counter-attack against McCarthy was that he was making EVERYTHING up out of whole cloth, that NOTHING he said was true and that he was a scoundrel seeking publicity for political advancement. McCarthy’s critics were wrong. Venona showed that.

    • #16
    • December 5, 2014 at 2:06 pm
  17. Profile photo of Gumby Mark Member

    Larry Koler:Mark, they didn’t have to be made public. This could have been done in secret — as decent people do when in government and serious charges are put forward.

    I’m glad OUR spy masters knew what was going — but we aren’t debating that. We are debating the telling of this history by leftists and the lies and distortions told to support our enemies against our interest.

    If your focus is the lies and distortions of this story by leftists we are in agreement. I’ve had many discussions with liberals who completely misunderstand what happened and call all of it McCarthyism though McCarthy had little to do with most of what they call McCarthyism. I’ve spent a lot of time enlightening them there was actual Soviet penetration of government and places like Hollywood and unions.

    My disagreement is that McCarthy if you really look at his specific allegations was wrong and simply exploiting fears for political gain. In the 1950s there was not a Soviet led conspiracy operating at the top levels of the US government as he alleged Fortunately he was ultimately so foolish that his opponents, who included people in both parties, were finally able to bring him down.

    • #17
    • December 5, 2014 at 2:15 pm
  18. Profile photo of Gumby Mark Member

    Hank Rearden:

    McCarthy’s critics were wrong. Venona showed that.

    Please read the linked comments by Harvey Klehr who has done great work on the Venona documents and on Soviet espionage penetration during that period. After giving credit for McCarthy for being correct in asserting there had been soviet penetration of the government and for criticizing the Roosevelt and Truman administrations for being slow to address it he goes on to say:

    But if McCarthy was right about some of the large issues, he was wildly wrong on virtually all of the details. There is no indication that he had even a hint of the Venona decryptions, so he did not base his accusations on the information in them. Indeed, virtually none of the people that McCarthy claimed or alleged were Soviet agents turn up in Venona. He did identify a few small fry who we now know were spies but only a few. And there is little evidence that those he fingered were among the unidentified spies of Venona. Many of his claims were wildly inaccurate; his charges filled with errors of fact, misjudgments of organizations and innuendoes disguised as evidence. He failed to recognize or understand the differences among genuine liberals, fellow-traveling liberals, Communist dupes, Communists and spies- distinctions that were important to make. The new information from Russian and American archives does not vindicate McCarthy. He remains a demagogue, whose wild charges actually made the fight against Communist subversion more difficult. Like Gresham’s Law, McCarthy’s allegations marginalized the accurate claims. Because his facts were so often wrong, real spies were able to hide behind the cover of being one of his victims and even persuade well-meaning but naïve people that the whole anti-communist cause was based on inaccuracies and hysteria.

    • #18
    • December 5, 2014 at 2:28 pm
  19. Profile photo of captainpower Member

    Hank Rearden: McCarthy’s critics were wrong. Venona showed that.

    Context: with the fall of the Soviet Union in the late 80s/early 90s, we got access to their archives which showed their communications with spies planted in various high ranking American positions.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venona_project

    https://www.nsa.gov/public_info/declass/venona/index.shtml

    http://www.amazon.com/s/url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=venona

    • #19
    • December 5, 2014 at 2:29 pm
  20. Profile photo of Larry Koler Member

    Mark, your litany of horrible wrongs done by McCarthy doesn’t look like anything that would stop a Democrat. I mean: he was a demagogue. Oh my. So few of these in government that I’m sure he really stuck out from the pack.

    This springs from the hearts of conservatives and Republicans so often that we must show how reasonable we are that we start every defense of our anti-communist strategies by bowing to the left’s position of power and bash McCarthy or Chambers or Nixon or….

    These excesses of McCarthy are nothing until the media get after him. Then we all have to kowtow.

    • #20
    • December 5, 2014 at 3:14 pm
  21. Profile photo of Hank Rearden Inactive

    Mark:

    Hank Rearden:

    McCarthy’s critics were wrong. Venona showed that.

    Please read the linked comments by Harvey Klehr who has done great work on the Venona documents and on Soviet espionage penetration during that period. After giving credit for McCarthy for being correct in asserting there had been soviet penetration of the government and for criticizing the Roosevelt and Truman administrations for being slow to address it he goes on to say:

    But if McCarthy was right about some of the large issues, he was wildly wrong on virtually all of the details. There is no indication that he had even a hint of the Venona decryptions, so he did not base his accusations on the information in them. Indeed, virtually none of the people that McCarthy claimed or alleged were Soviet agents turn up in Venona. He did identify a few small fry who we now know were spies but only a few. And there is little evidence that those he fingered were among the unidentified spies of Venona. Many of his claims were wildly inaccurate; his charges filled with errors of fact, misjudgments of organizations and innuendoes disguised as evidence. He failed to recognize or understand the differences among genuine liberals, fellow-traveling liberals, Communist dupes, Communists and spies- distinctions that were important to make. The new information from Russian and American archives does not vindicate McCarthy. He remains a demagogue, whose wild charges actually made the fight against Communist subversion more difficult. Like Gresham’s Law, McCarthy’s allegations marginalized the accurate claims. Because his facts were so often wrong, real spies were able to hide behind the cover of being one of his victims and even persuade well-meaning but naïve people that the whole anti-communist cause was based on inaccuracies and hysteria.

    Just read the Klehr link.

    Klehr is worked up that McCarthy was not working from the Venona material in the 1950’s. That is an irrelevant point. Then he says that McCarthy’s demagogery smeared a (large) number of innocent people.

    Couldn’t we have just a few names? Just a few? Who are these people smeared by McCarthy? And in what way were they smeared? Three have been mentioned in this back-and-forth: (1) George Marshall; (2) James Wechsler, a former communist and a newspaper editor; (3) Dashiell Hammett, a communist, but a private citizen well within his rights to be one if he wanted to. That’s it as far as I know. Marshall was unfortunate. McCarthy implied that he was a fool, but did not call him a spy. It was McCarthy’s lowest moment, but Marshall WAS a public figure – he had gone on to Secretary of Defense and Secretary of State after WWII. His policies in China were a disaster. McCarthy, although using abusive language was not attacking a private citizen.

    The implication in Klehr’s piece and in comments here starting off with Mr. Meyer, is that there were legions smeared by McCarthy, that in fact he was such a loose cannon that his work was nothing BUT smears. OK. Got it. So…who were these people whose lives were ruined (which is the implication) by McCarthy?

    In comments above, I outlined the deplorable situation in our China representatives that had not been rectified by the time McCarthy came on the scene. Five years after we won WWII, countries in Eastern Europe are being taken over by the Sovs, China goes red and in that situation, State was virtually run by communists. No problemo?

    The censure process started with 46(!) charges against McCarthy. When it was finished, there was two. Two. TWO. Two charges out of 46. And those charges had nothing to do with innocents smeared, in fact nothing to do with his investigations and charges except that his prominence was the predicate for the altercations with the committees aggrieved.

    That doesn’t tell you anything? The Democratic Liberal establishment had been cool with welcoming Stalinists in at the top of the foreign policy apparatus of the U.S. government during a very dangerous period. McCarthy called them on it. If he was right, they were wrong, they had taken a lax attitude toward their duties and their right to rule was ruined. Solution? Destroy McCarthy. After all, couldn’t the answer just have been, “no, there aren’t any communists in State?” Why all the denunciations of McCarthy even before he made his case?

    Why were all the State employment files sent to the White House to be protected by executive privilege, at that time a new assertion by the Executive? Why all the fireworks? Why not just deny it and make McCarthy prove it?

    You know why.

    • #21
    • December 5, 2014 at 7:55 pm
  22. Profile photo of Gumby Mark Member

    Hank – you are the one who claimed Venona vindicated McCarthy. It did not. When I point that out you then say its an irrelevant point. I’m glad you now agree with me.

    • #22
    • December 5, 2014 at 8:38 pm
  23. Profile photo of Gumby Mark Member

    You believe there was a massive Commie conspiracy at the top levels of the State Department in the 1950s under Dean Acheson and John Foster Dulles. I don’t. I think we are at an impasse.

    • #23
    • December 5, 2014 at 8:42 pm
  24. Profile photo of Hank Rearden Inactive

    I responded to Klehr’s point that McCarthy was not working from Venona in the 1950’s. What Venona vindicated was the environment within which McCarthy was making his charges:

    1. The CPUSA was not a bunch of democrats and civil rights activists just “worried about people.” It was first to last funded from Moscow, was a source of countless spies and was a subversive organization. That is what Venona proved and what supported McCarthy. There WAS a communist conspiracy. People denied that until Venona and it was part of the McCarthy was a demagogue narrative.

    2. You are, of course, entitled to your opinion because America is not run by Stalinists. But your opinion is a pretty lame assertion given that we have been discussing facts. The claim is that McCarthy smeared countless people. I have said that is a fraud. And nobody here has contradicted that except with their feelings.

    3. You are cool with two critical members of our China delegation ending their days in Beijing working for the communist government. That doesn’t suggest to you that McCarthy was on to something?

    4. You don’t find it strange that the censure hearings on McCarthy started with 46 charges and ended with 2? That doesn’t suggest to you that he was railroaded, that in fact there was no case against him?

    5. You use the words “massive communist conspiracy.” They are not my words. There were a lot of communists in sensitive positions in State. Characterize that how you will.

    6. You “feel” that McCarthy made false charges. But neither you nor Klehr names ANY false charges. None. Nada. Zip. You have your feelings and that is good enough. As you say, we are at the end.

    • #24
    • December 6, 2014 at 4:31 am