Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The New McCarthyism

Back in the late forties Congress under Senator McCarthy (R WI) conducted witch hunts for communist and homosexuals in the State Department. One of those who testified was then president of the Screen Actors Guild.

Time magazine has an article about the Senator and the hearings,
Oct. 20, 1947: The House Un-American Activities Committee opens hearings into communist infiltration of the motion picture industry

On this day — Oct. 20 — in 1947, members of the House Un-American Activities Committee began an investigation into alleged communist influences in the film industry as the post-World War II “Red Scare” ramped up towards its peak. (Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy, the namesake of an era marked by anti-communist paranoia, was not involved with the Congressional committee, although their aims overlapped.) Fearing a conspiracy that would inject propaganda into productions and recruit movie-going Americans to communist causes, the committee subpoenaed more than 40 actors, directors, writers and studio executives, whom they grilled about their political affiliations and asked to name names of other Hollywood communists.

And while 80 celebrities — including Lauren Bacall, Humphrey Bogart, Gene Kelly and John Huston — signed a petition denouncing the committee as un-American itself for probing the politics of individual citizens, the anti-communist momentum of the day carried the hearings forward.

Some of those subpoenaed cooperated fully with the committee, confirming its fears that subversives were at work in Hollywood. These “friendly witnesses” included Ronald Reagan, who testified that a “small clique” of communists “have attempted to be a disruptive influence” within the Screen Actors Guild, and Walt Disney, who declared that they had been behind a strike at his studio. Disney felt particularly vulnerable to the Red Menace, according to his testimony, in which he alleged that one communist agitator, the union organizer Herbert Sorrell, swore “he would make a dust bowl out of my plant if he chose to.” Disney knew Sorrell was a communist, he said, because of “having seen his name appearing on a number of Commie front things,” which then went on to smear Disney’s name.
Well now it is happening again.

Once again the Republicans are conducting witch hunts, this time it is just as sinister, they on the hunt for Democrats in government agencies.
Trump’s Purge Of Non-Loyalists Takes Shape
Huffington Post
By Eric Schmeltzer
January 6, 2017

And so, the purge takes shape.

This week’s move by the GOP Congress to revive an 1876 rule that allows them to cut any federal employee’s pay to $1 sets up the purge of non-loyalists that Donald Trump’s team has been talking about, for months.

This summer, Reuters reported that then-Trump Transition chair, Governor Chris Christie, had told a group of Trump insiders that, if he won, Trump would seek new ability to purge the government of non-loyalists. Reuters reported, at the time:
One of the things I have suggested to Donald is that we have to immediately ask the Republican Congress to change the civil service laws. Because if they do, it will make it a lot easier to fire those people,” Christie said.

He said firing civil servants was “cumbersome” and “time-consuming.”
[…]
Reinstatement of the 1876 rule should not come as a shock. For weeks, the Trump transition team has sought out the names of individual employees in the government.

They demanded names of all Department of Energy employees who worked on climate change.

They demanded a list of all positions in the State Department that work on gender and women’s equality issues.

They told the Department of Homeland Security to send over the names of anyone working on combating the spread of extremism. One government insider implied it was likely a way to get to civil servants who do not think we’re in a war against Islam.

To be clear ― these lists will mostly be civil servants, the kind of people who work in administrations of different parties, with different agendas.
And so the hunt begins.

Where will it stop?

To stop Senator McCarthy it took a reporter, Edward R. Murrow, to stop him. On his show he had the senator who wanted to set the “record straight,” the following week Mr. Murrow said,
Last week, Senator McCarthy appeared on this program to correct any errors he might have thought we made in our report of March 9th.

Since he made no reference to any statements of fact that we made, we must conclude that he found no errors of fact. He proved again that anyone who exposes him, anyone who does not share his hysterical disregard for decency and human dignity and the rights guaranteed by the Constitution, must be either a Communist or a fellow traveler.

I fully expected this treatment. The Senator added this reporter's name to a long list of individuals and institutions he has accused of serving the Communist cause. His proposition is very simple: Anyone who criticizes or opposes McCarthy's methods must be a Communist. And if that be true, there are an awful lot of Communists in this country.

For the record, let's consider briefly some of the Senator's charges. He claimed, but offered no proof, that I had been a member of the Industrial Workers of the World. That is false. I was never a member of the IWW, never applied for membership. Men that I worked with in the Pacific Northwest in western Washington in logging camps will attest that I never had any affiliation or affinity with that organization.
Let’s hope that a main stream news show like 60 Minutes steps up and challenges the president-elect Trump and Congress to stop them.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

HUAC persisted for several years after McCarthy was stopped. It took--among other things--a big student sit-in in the San Francisco City Hall (1960) to help end that foul committee. Even then, HUAC tried to defend itself with such vile propaganda as the film "Operation Abolition". The HUAC mentality is alive and well in the USA.