Remembering Joe McCarthy

April 19, 2008

In the years following WWII, while the returned veterans were enjoying this “best of all possible worlds”; there were signs of problems and harbingers of what lay ahead. There were those who warned of the communist threat in our midst. Notable among them was Joseph McCarthy a Senator from Wisconsin. He was a regrettable ombudsman for the cause of seeking out those in our government and elsewhere who had collectivists leanings or were outright communists. His demeanor, lifestyle, and tactics were a distraction from the purpose for which he claimed to be dedicated. This notwithstanding, his warnings ultimately proved to be well advised. There were indeed people in the government who were bent on the destruction of our free and democratic republic. But, more so in Hollywood which had become a hot bed of radical thinkers in the lower echelons of writers and creative personnel. They would eventually rise to the top like scum on a stagnant pond. Even more frightening were those who were then ensconced in our colleges and universities who perceived Marx and Engels as heroes of their utopian thought process. We had just defeated two of the most formidable enemies the world had seen since Genghis Kahn and no one was willing to believe that victory could be abrogated by the likes of government servants, egg-headed professors, or Hollywood numb sculls. As so often is the case, we judged the message by the messenger and set aside his warnings. As a result others were cast in the same light who carried similar messages. There was a cartoon strip around that period called “Pogo”. The little Pogo character at some point made the statement; “we have met the enemy and he is us.” The nation was accustomed to big aggressive enemies and was concerned about the spread of communism everywhere in the world but where it mattered—here at home. Would that we might have seen past McCarthy’s feet of clay and observed the real threat that would burst forth upon us in the mid 1960s and throughout the 1970s. There is a Zen koan which tells of the monk who is attempting to point out the moon to his dog. The dog will only look at his finger. This same wisdom, had we been able to see past the messenger, might have saved our culture from itself.