News Release

A New McCarthyism?



The Hill on Thursday published the piece “McCarthy’s ghost smiles as Dems point the finger at Russia” by Norman Solomon.

ELLEN SCHRECKER. ellen.schrecker [at]
A retired professor of American history at Yeshiva University, Schrecker is a leading authority on McCarthyism whose books include Many Are the Crimes: McCarthyism in America and No Ivory Tower: McCarthyism in the Universities.

She said today: “In many ways, a new form of McCarthyism could appear. Trump adviser Newt Gingrich has called for a new House Un-American Activities Committee to target ‘Islamic extremists.’ Meanwhile, proposed blacklists — of anti-conservative professors, allegedly Russian-oriented websites, and who knows what else — are sprouting up within the mainstream. And, if we think about personalities, we should recall that McCarthy himself was often out of control.

“But, what is critical and what is poorly understood is how what we call McCarthyism depended on the willing collaboration of liberals and moderates who normalized its anti-communist hysteria. Hubert Humphrey not only backed the Internal Security Act of 1950, originally sponsored by Richard Nixon, but even added provisions for concentration camps for communists.

“Universities are particularly endangered. Reagan became governor of California by running against Berkeley. Today, we see ‘political correctness’ being used as a pretext to target higher education as well as an increasingly successful campaign to silence the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel.

“The net effect of the acquiescence of liberals and moderates is, as in the fifties, the further silencing of the left, the elimination of substantive controversy, and a normalization of right-wing extremism.”

COLEEN ROWLEY, rowleyclan [at], @ColeenRowley
Rowley, a former FBI special agent and division counsel whose May 2002 memo to the FBI Director exposed some of the FBI’s pre-9/11 failures, was named one of TIME magazine’s “Persons of the Year” in 2002.

She said today: “Why are so many U.S. politicians so keen on resurrecting the ghost of Joseph McCarthy? The ‘Red Scare’ fear of Communism spanned FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover’s entire 47-year career and stupidly motivated him to overlook organized crime while working with and feeding information to Joseph McCarthy [and the] House Un-American Activities Committee vilifying and blacklisting thousands of productive and prominent American citizens, as disparate as the last century’s most important scientist Albert Einstein and American folk singer Pete Seeger. The same irrational fear was a main factor in ginning up the disastrous Vietnam War and also led Hoover’s FBI to begin its COINTELPRO program targeting Martin Luther King Jr. (among others).

“The simple answer to why this sordid McCarthy-like history seems to be on the verge of repeating can be found in the prescient words of James Madison, known as the ‘Father of the Constitution,’ who recognized that ‘Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other… No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.’ That is why Madison and other Founding Fathers tried so hard to guarantee First Amendment freedoms of speech, association and press and put ‘checks and balances’ into the supreme law of the land to try to prevent what has now happened: a state of ‘perpetual war’ taking hold.”

Solomon, executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, wrote in his piece: “On Tuesday, Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) and six ranking members of major House committees sent President Obama a letter declaring, ‘We are deeply concerned by Russian efforts to undermine, interfere with, and even influence the outcome of our recent election.’

“A prominent signer of the letter — Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee — is among the Democrats most eager to denounce Russian subversion.

“A week ago, when the House approved by a 390-30 margin and sent to the Senate the Intelligence Authorization Act for fiscal 2017, Schiff praised ‘important provisions aimed at countering Russia’s destabilizing efforts — including those targeting our elections.’ One of those ‘important provisions,’ Section 501, sets up in the executive branch ‘an interagency committee to counter active measures by the Russian Federation to exert covert influence.’

“This high-level committee could easily morph into a protracted real-life nightmare. … All in all, the provision is a gift for the next president, tied up in a bow by congressional Democrats.”