Today’s young people might have heard the phrase "McCarthyism," and if they have, it’s as some horrible miasma of Nazism and the "killing fields" and other hovering terror of fear.
But I was there, and I lived through it, and it was real.
And I even managed to weave some good out of those strands of evil.
Since this horror show of McCarthyism played some considerable role in the working out of my childhood, I would like to say a little about the distinguished senator from Wisconsin.
No sooner had the hot war against fascism ended in Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Atlantic that the cold war against communist expansion began in deadly earnest in Europe, Asia, and Africa. The communists began playing with fire in divided Germany with small-stakes poker in 1946. The stakes rose from Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic (to paraphrase Churchill) to the horrible miserably bitter killing zones in Korea in June 1950.
The U.S. government and mainstream media were mostly on the side of the communists wherever this cold war was waged. The Russian Bolsheviks, who had been our "gallant allies" in radio and print news especially, had aimed their super powers at our allies in Europe and China. Then we saw that there had been high treason in the highest of all possible treasonous hotspots, the atom bomb (and soon to be hydrogen bomb) projects.
We as citizens became apoplectic with rage against what were believed to be our life-or-death enemies in the Kremlin and Beijing.
Defenders of the flag and the flag’s values under the Constitution ran for office and often won in the period from 1946 to 1950. It was not uncommon for voters of 1946 and 1948 and 1950 to agree with voters of 1922, who believed that the allies had suckered the U.S. into war. These allies had meanwhile kept their immense empires and armies and navies while "the little brown fellows" suffered continuous oppression.
And the Russians had retraced the path of Stalin by grabbing immense swaths of eastern Europe and keeping their pals in power there by the time-honored means of secret police, mass murder, and enforced mass starvation.
The names of McCarthy, Jenner, and Knight come to mind immediately as politicians who rode the rails of anti-communism to political power. It took only a modicum of suspicion from the media powers who were not on the Red side to get the nation "het up" by the slightest allegation that a Jewish dentist and his pals working in or near a government laboratory were only a short subway stop from nuclear bombs pointed at the United States.
I was a child in the public schools of Montgomery County, Maryland, when the Cold War was at its peak. We children of people who worked for the government had to be super-extra careful not to say or do anything that could get us into trouble.
To read Ben Stein's full article, please visit The American Specator.
Ben Stein is a writer, an actor, and a lawyer who served as a speechwriter in the Nixon administration as the Watergate scandal unfolded. He began his unlikely road to stardom when director John Hughes as the numbingly dull economics teacher in the urban comedy, "Ferris Bueller's Day Off." Read more more reports from Ben Stein — Click Here Now.
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