In Defense of McCarthyism
Elena Maria Vidal remembers "Whittaker Chambers and his courage in exposing communist agents in the United States government, particularly the State Department official Alger Hiss" — History’s Witness. She writes:
- Every high school student—and Hollywood producer—knows about McCarthyism; those who were blacklisted are considered political martyrs. The House Un-American Activities Committee is popularly seen as a sort of Spanish Inquisition that sought to destroy innocent screenwriters. Yet the Hiss case has been frequently misrepresented, when it is remembered at all.
- This is why liberal anti-Communists, and the intellectual predecessors of today’s neoconservatives, recoiled at the sight of the populist McCarthy rallying millions of Americans against their own government and the elites who controlled it. This is why the postwar remnants of the old “isolationist” America First movement were such ardent McCarthyites—aside from the sheer joy of getting back at the leftists, like Dickstein, who had conducted an anti-rightist inquisition during the war years.
If the main danger was at home, then we need not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy. Such an ardent McCarthyite and Taft Republican as the novelist Louis Bromfield, in his forgotten classic A New Pattern for a Tired World (1954), referred to the Soviets’ “ramshackle empire,” and characterized the Marxist movement as an “international psychopathic cult,” which could not long survive without infusions of technology and aid from the West. The alleged “threat” posed by the Soviet Union was minor, he declared, compared to the threat to our old Republic represented by militarism, the arms race, and the distortion of our economic and political life by the rise of an American empire.