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From the Pen of David Horowitz: September 30, 2009

September 30, 2009

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This is not to say, of course, that McCarthy’s response to Communism was not destructive.  In his hands, the struggle against this fifth column was perverted first into a weapon aimed at the Democrats and ultimately into a scattergun aimed at his own party, at America, and finally at himself. His reckless demagoguery did damage to innocent people, and the atmosphere created by his success cast a pall over the political arena.  It imperiled the democratic process, and it destroyed the credibility of anti-Communism itself.  Robert Lamphere, the head of the FBI counterintelligence team that caught the Rosenbergs, has since said, “Senator McCarthy’s crusade, which was to last for the next several years, was always anathema to me.  McCarthy’s approach and tactics hurt the anti-Communist cause and turned many liberals against legitimate efforts to curtail Communist activities in the United States.”  Whittaker Chambers saw the problem with McCarthy at the time the problem was unfolding: “All of us, to one degree or another, have come to question his judgement and to fear acutely that his flair for the sensational, his inaccuracies and distortions … will lead him and us into trouble.  In fact, it is no exaggeration to say that we live in terror that Senator McCarthy will one day make some blunder which will play directly into the hands of our common enemy and discredit the whole anti-Communist effort for a long while to come.”

As a result of Truman’s internal security programs, many Party members did lose their jobs in institutions considered vital to the nation’s defense and survival- in government, in the media, and in education.  But with extraordinarily few exceptions, they were not fired from government agencies and other institutions for holding “unpopular ideas,” as the Communists themselves maintained and as the mythology that has grown up around the McCarthy period still holds.  They were fired for being members of (or for refusing to cooperate with inquiries into their membership in) an organization that was subservient to a hostile foreign power and whose purposes were inimical to American democracy.  Thus Columbia University justified its policy of excluding Communists from its faculty in the following statement (of which Lionel Trilling, spokesman for American liberalism, was one of the authors): “Membership in Communist organizations almost certainly implies a submission to an intellectual control which is entirely at variance with the principles of academic competence as we understand them.”

Destructive Generation by Peter Collier and David Horowitz

Today’s Horowitz quote of the day was selected as an answer to the questions of such commenters as KuhnKat, The Inquisitor, and Sovereign Jim.

If you have a favorite Horowitz quote you want to highlight for others then please email it to DavidSwindle {@} Gmail.com. Please include:

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30 Comments
  1. Walt permalink
    September 30, 2009 2:30 am

    It is a cautionary tale of how a person or persons can capture a perfectly legitimate movement for their own ends, and thus destroy it. If Senator McCarthy had not been around, the 60’s might have had a different outcome.

    • September 30, 2009 4:04 am

      If all ends well, perhaps someday we’ll say that people like Michael Moore, and their own rabid enthusiasms likewise ensnared their cause.

  2. The Inquisitor permalink
    September 30, 2009 4:31 am

    Edward R. Murrow put together film clips of McCarthy which when played made him look like a giggling idiot. That kind of dirty dealing was typical of McCarthy’s opponents. To understand McCarthy you have to understand what he was up against. One of his great accomplishments was that he drew these vermin out into the spotlight of history.

    For those of you unfamiliar with the history think of Joe McCarthy as Bill Laimbeer of the Detroit Pistons. Did Bill go over the bounds of fair play? Probably so. Did he hurt his team when he got technical fouls? Sure. As a Piston fan do you want to trade him to the Lakers just because the Bulls fans boo him? Not on your life. He is (was) largely responsible for the Piston’s success.

    Picture Laimbeer bent over with the ball secured with both hands. Watch as he raises up and his elbow smacks a Bulls forward in the chops. A Bulls fan would say that’s a dirty play; he ought to be kicked out of the game. A Pistons fan might say the Bulls forward had it coming to him; he shouldn’t have crowded Bill the way he did. What did the referee say? Sometimes he called a foul, and sometimes he didn’t.

    It all depends on your perspective. For a more balanced view of Joe McCarthy than you will find in the ruling class media — a media that undermined McCarthy just as it undermined the Vietnam War and the more current war in Iraq — see “Blacklisted By History” by M. Stanton Evans.

    • September 30, 2009 6:11 am

      You’re right, Bill Laimbeer was a brute and it was great watching him perform his function.

      Tail gunner Joe has be defamed by the people who m feared him most, the Leftist in the world of entertainment. We and they know why they stay in this country rather than move to Cuba or Venezuela, they couldn’t make it as part of the unwashed masses.

      • The Inquisitor permalink
        September 30, 2009 9:31 am

        He was indeed a joy to watch.

    • VNVet permalink
      September 30, 2009 1:31 pm

      Yes, many in the media were communists, or communist sypathizers, so it was of course in their best interest to make McCarthy look fanatical, or do anything that would hurt his cause of exposing communists, especially communist spies. A reading of ‘Blacklisted by History’ shows that McCarthy was well reasoned and with good research. The Senate hearings that he participated in were staged by the democ-rats, who controlled congress, for the sole purpose of destroying McCarthy and covering for communists. Senate democ-rats working hand in hand with the Truman administration pulled out all stops to accomplish this. Yes, Thank God for Joe McCarthy. It may have cost him an early grave, but he did prevail to a great degree.

      “To understand McCarthy you have to understand what he was up against. One of his great accomplishments was that he drew these vermin out into the spotlight of history.”

      That statement is spot on. McCarthy was made to look bad by the tremendous flak he was taking from the left and the lack of support from the cowardly right. It is completely understandable, under these extreme circumstances, if McCarthy seemed to be a bit hyper or overbearing in his own defense. He persevered, under extreme strain. No U.S. politician has probably undergone such intense malignment, demogoguery and vicious attacks until probably G.W. Bush.

    • trickyblain permalink
      September 30, 2009 2:07 pm

      Laimbeer helped his team win. He was the consummate team player. Those Pistons focused on group, over individual, performance. McCarthy was not a team player and did what he did for personal attention. His team suffered as a result of his “play.”

      I don’t see him as a villain, I see him as more of a tragic figure. He, for attention, held up a list at a minor speech in West Virginia — a list that may have had communists written on it. But it’s just as likely to have contained his shopping list (bourbon, vermooth, club soda, carton of Marlboroughs). His list — never seen, never verified — started a snowball effect in which each accusation from that point had to be yet more sensational, culminating in his humiliation at the Army-McCarthy Hearings.

      His is a cautionary tale of self-aggrandizement. He never transformed as a person — making up varied stories of his “war wound” (actually received in a ceremony for crossing the equator), to writing himself up a “letter of commendation” and forging his CO’s and Nimitz ‘s signatures, to elaborate stories of spy rings in Army research facilities (never substantiated), all the way to his downfall at the hands of Joesph Welch.

      McCarthy Fun Fact of the Day: He dated both Eunice and Patricia Kennedy and was godfather to RFK’s daughter Kathleen. JFK never attacked him in Congress.

  3. jbtrevor permalink
    September 30, 2009 5:20 am

    From Davids excerpt:

    “Membership in Communist organizations almost certainly implies a submission to an intellectual control which is entirely at variance with the principles of academic competence as we understand them.”

    That kind of says it all about the Left/neo-Communists of today…submission of intellectual control, sad.

  4. Wayne permalink
    September 30, 2009 6:13 am

    My impression and opinion of Whittaker Chambers is not as benign as those who look to him and William F. Buckley as icons of conservative thought. Since my opinions were shaped in many ways by the writings of Ayn Rand years ago, my opinion of Buckley was shaped by her opinion of Buckley. She had reason to despise Buckley because of a review of her novel written by Whittaker Chambers (“Big Sister is Watching You”) and which appeared in Buckley’s National Review first on December 27, 1957 as the novel had just been published. To arrive at the conclusions of Chambers in his review of the book would be a distinct minority — and they’d be wrong, in my opinion. Buckley must have liked the review. In fact he liked it so much that he reprinted it to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of of his National Review.

    The review was meant to scuttle future sales of the book — looks like he failed at that, since the book remains a best seller even fifty years after it was published. Then again perhaps this was just Buckley’s way of acting as a gatekeeper to keep the “kooks” and “nut cases” out of a movement that he may have seen himself as leading. Was Buckley himself a fraud or a nut case?

    His son Christopher Buckley hasn’t spoken too highly of his father in his book “Losing Mum and Pup”. I haven’s read the book, but I’ve read reviews and quotations which indicate that William F. Buckley was a failed father, at least in the eyes of somebody that should know that — his son. Oddly enough Christopher Buckley wouldn’t consider himself a conservative either — maybe he thought his “Pup” was a phony, too.

    • The Inquisitor permalink
      September 30, 2009 6:38 am

      Whittaker Chambers was an example of what happens far too often. He changed his political ideology but retained the other baggage that made his former totalitarian ideology possible.

      The story of Buckley and his son is a two way street. Bill Buckley was disappointed by his son’s intellectual laziness. He once told his son, “Go read a book.”

    • jbtrevor permalink
      September 30, 2009 6:39 am

      Wayne,

      I grinned when I read this, esp when you said Buckley was a failed father.

      Well, having read many of Sr. Buckley’s words and often not understanding any of it (i.e. I spent more time with a dictionary when reading one Buckley piece than my entire time in HS) maybe it wasn’t that he failed as a father, he simply used words to big for Chris to understand.
      Julie

      • The Inquisitor permalink
        September 30, 2009 6:43 am

        You must never have read Edgar Allan Poe. Shame on you.

    • The Inquisitor permalink
      September 30, 2009 6:47 am

      Incidentally, Ayn Rand had a similar view of Joe McCarthy as does David Horowitz. Unfortunately she did not go into detail as far as I know.

    • September 30, 2009 7:06 am

      Don’t be trashing “Losing Mum and Pup” if you haven’t read it. It’s a fantastic book by a son who loved his parents. Here’s my review:
      http://www.americanthinker.com/2009/06/losing_mum_and_pup.html

      The book does not claim WFB was a failed father. It only claimed that he could be inattentive and insensitive sometimes.

      Reading it made me appreciate WFB all the more.

      Christopher Buckley is still a conservative, albeit a more moderate and often libertarian variety.

      • Wayne permalink
        September 30, 2009 7:29 am

        David, the intent was not to trash “Losing Mum and Pup”. I only used that as evidence to support the point I was trying to make — William F. Buckley wasn’t quite the treasured icon that many uphold him to be in right wing politics.

        I did read your review. Thanks for linking to it. I noticed your plug for a future
        book by Mr. Horowitz, too. Is he your “Pup”, or what?

        • September 30, 2009 7:49 am

          Horowitz is my friend and mentor. Be sure and read “A Cracking of the Heart” when it comes out in a few weeks. It’s the best book he’s written in years.

        • September 30, 2009 7:51 am

          And thanks for reading my review. 🙂

    • Tom Trevor permalink
      October 1, 2009 9:07 pm

      Wayne: “in the eyes of someone who should know”, maybe if you opened your eyes and read the book, you would know more than you do.

  5. aubrey permalink
    September 30, 2009 6:19 am

    Thank you Joe McCarthy, for what you tried to do.

  6. sovereignjim permalink
    September 30, 2009 9:43 am

    OK, so Joe loses on style points. He was made a demon by the left because he was killing them. You know nothing about McCarthy until you read “Blacklisted By History” by M. Stanton Evans. Truman went after Joe because he knew that if he did not help bring down McCarthy the Democrat Party was toast. People like Buckley and Rand disliked Joe because he spoke like a tail gunner.

    • The Inquisitor permalink
      September 30, 2009 11:19 am

      Buckley actually supported McCarthy.

      I suspect Rand simply took at face value what she read in the newspapers. That was kind of her mode of operation. You don’t need to look for fabrications; what they admit in print is bad enough. Incidentally she loved people who spoke like tail gunners.

  7. September 30, 2009 9:53 am

    Having been in the trenches fighting Communism, It isn’t a place for the naive.

    Being human McCarthy made his share of mistakes, but he did take the Bull by the Horns, which is more than most would attempt.

    Keeping those defending Democracy to impossible standards, is also a Tool of the Great Liar.

    Personally I only claim to Walk on Water, with a good Deck under my feet.

    SEAMYSTIC

  8. SATCHMOJAZZ permalink
    September 30, 2009 11:10 am

    Now I’m trying to figure out why Buckley didn’t like Rand or Atlas. Clue me in.

    • The Inquisitor permalink
      September 30, 2009 12:50 pm

      I can’t say for sure, but I suspect that he had succumbed to the Modern Christian view that altruism is a virtue which Ayn Rand castigated.

      She once told him, “You’re too intelligent to believe in God.” I am sure that he believed that his religion was the basis of all that is good in life including his political philosophy. He undoubtedly was delighted when Chambers did a hatchet job on Atlas Shrugged.

      • VNVet permalink
        September 30, 2009 1:05 pm

        “You’re too intelligent to believe in God.”

        Another good reason for me to despise Ayn Rand.

  9. Janet Kelley permalink
    September 30, 2009 11:14 am

    David Horowitz refers to the Destructive Generation, Joseph McCarthy as a prime example, who unjustly identified the communist’s agenda and its members. Horowitz lived this so strongly that he must still believe it. It is similar to the Spanish Inquisition “mythology.” Spain, a Christian Catholic nation, declared that the Muslims & Jews must accept Christianity or leave, as they wanted to rid their nation of “undermining trouble makers.”

    McCarthy saw this same need to get rid of all the communists that were destroying America’s Republic. McCarthy involved himself in the democratic process to weed out the communists and KGB network that had invaded the U.S. government, schools, labor unions and entertainment industry. In his book WITNESS, Whittaker Chambers detailed the violence and lying on the part of the communist’s “big plan” to overtake America. The KGB shot all who strayed or were seen as a mere hindrance. Chambers identified Alger Hiss as a leader in the Communist Party and part of FDR’s elite group that went with him to Europe at the end of WWII. Hiss was considered so intelligent that he surely was necessary for a successful meeting. Was he? In the Truman administration, America’s security program was compromised at the highest levels with communists. They were considered so bright and intelligent that their communism belief could be over looked. I don’t think so. Some were fired, however many were merely moved to new areas in the U.S. Government. Innocent people identified as communists? I don’t think so. Turning away Liberals that were against communism…that would be a first!

    McCarthy’s struggle against communism was perverted into a weapon against Democrats, others and himself. Not true. Columbia University was correct in not allowing communists to express their poisonous ideology in America. America was given fair warning. Freedoms come with responsibilities. Both McCarthy and Chambers were maliciously maligned, challenged and mortally threatened. They loved America and were true Patriots. We owe them a debt of gratitude, forever.

  10. Joseph White permalink
    September 30, 2009 8:40 pm

    McCarthy’s desire to protect people is sort of like Glenn Becks, when he brings awareness of the Islamofacist movement. However, instead of people taking that from him, he gets laughed at. *Shrug*

  11. WestWright permalink
    October 1, 2009 5:56 am

    Great discussion on a true American Hero, Tailgunner Joe! IMO, the smear of Sarah Palin or Glenn Beck across the political spectruum is very similar to what the Stalinist/Left with help from some useful idiots on the right successfully did to McCarthy. I am amused that Horowitz has exposed his own McCarthyism scars from his dayz of unredeeming leftism but I am very happy to see Horowitz and Glazov both doing great work in support of Palin & Beck. Thanks to all the commenters who have hammered home the definitive and accurate McCarthy study extremely well researched and documented by the great Stanton Evans, “Blacklisted By History, The Untold Story of Senator Joe McCarthy and His Fight Against America’s Enemies”….if nothing else, read the Amazon reader reviews on this book!

  12. Dan O'Connor permalink
    October 4, 2009 12:40 am

    Sen. Joe McCarthy is my hero, now and forever. The communist infestation of the United States government and military was much worse
    than the Senator could have believed. We now have proof provided by
    Russian defectors that Uncle Joe Stalin had traitorous spys at the
    highest levels of our government and of course at Los Alamos. The
    Russians were privy to every thing our left leaning scientists were
    doing with the Manhattan Project. America still has a communist problem that has gone underground. Some of them who have been caught
    are now sitting in our prisons where their every need is payed for by
    us taxpayers. If it was up to me, not a single commie would be in jail.
    They would have been shot by a good old firing squad years ago.
    Dan O.
    West Harrison, Indiana

    • Ken Kelley permalink
      October 5, 2009 8:43 am

      Some in our family were deeply involved with the Manhattan Project and development of the air defenses and space programs that were required to meet the threat signaled by the Sputnik satellite. They were dedicated to their work (several were paid one dollar/year.) It was always impressed upon us that our fragile republic depends on loyalty and self sacrifice. Freedoms come with responsibilities. There were a few days and sleepless nights when those defenses were vulnerable, but those programs were on time on budget and worked. Our doors were always open. We were alert to the problems that could occur; but we felt sure that we could overcome the serious sedition and hatred that was spreading during the 20th century. The need to support and defend never goes away. It is a requirement that our republic demands. Some feel that is the greatest if not only purpose of a central government. Respect of those who truly support and defend our republic is required, also.

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