The Smithsonian Institute presented a biography on the late U.S. Sen. Joe McCarthy Friday during which it went on a two-hour rant that was obviously designed to smear the legacy of the senator.
Although the biography featured some of those who came to McCarthy’s defense, such as renown author, journalist, and researcher M. Stanton Evans, the Smithsonian failed to provide any information of real substance that McCarthy advocates had to offer.
Evans wrote the definitive biography on McCarthy titled Blacklisted by History: The Untold Story of Senator Joe McCarthy. The extensive research conducted by Evans and presented in the book showed that most of the persons McCarthy accused of either being Communists or having once been Communists were, in fact, Communists. Not only was this fact confirmed by CIA records that were eventually declassified after the Cold War but by the Russian government when the old Soviet Union disintegrated and the records of the KGB were opened for public scrutiny.
And several former top KGB agents in the Soviet Union confirmed that Soviet Communists and their sympathizers had infiltrated the State Department, the U.S. Army, the Defense Department, and several other agencies in the top tier of the U.S. government. This they did by using Americans who had joined the Communist movement in secret, in spite of the fact that Communism’s stated goal was to “bury” the United States. Their mission was to uncover and report to the KGB the activities of the United States that were designed to thwart the spread of Communism. This is the exact definition of “treason.”
All of this is carefully documented in Evans’ book. Thus, the facts uncovered after the Cold War and the demise of the Soviet Union show that McCarthy was right.
Yet nothing was mentioned about Evans’ findings in the Smithsonian biography of McCarthy. Instead, the Smithsonian took great pains to present the perspective of those who had been accused by McCarthy. One went as far as to state that people like McCarthy should not be allowed to live in America and that he rejoiced when McCarthy died.
Curiously, one of the so-called “victims” not only admitted to being a Communist Party member at the height of the Cold War, and thus taking sides with the USSR in its goal to destroy the United States, but he claimed he was too young to know what he was doing and that his activities on behalf of Soviet Communism were the consequences of youthful indiscretions.
Interestingly, the same person stated that in time he dropped out of the Communist Party but never had a problem with the ideology of Communism. He stated merely that he did not want to be associated with any group.
But that was never the point. Although the Smithsonian documentary attempted to present this person as a victim of the evil McCarthy, his story showed that McCarthy was 100 percent correct. He was a member of the Communist Party and agreed with Communist ideology and objectives, although he had dropped out of the Party. This was all that McCarthy claimed to begin with.
To be sure, any objective assessment of McCarthy must include the senator’s flaws which led to his downfall in the late 1950s. His message was right. But the messenger was fatally flawed. McCarthy increasingly took to excessive drinking, which no doubt effected his judgment at times. He also had a penchant for self-promotion, anything to get publicity, which at times resulted in disaster.
Some of the persons he accused were either shown not to be associated with Communism at all or had in later years renounced the Communism they once espoused. No doubt the lives of these persons were tarnished unnecessarily, and a few found it impossible to find work after the McCarthy accusations. This was inexcusable.
Finally the court of public opinion turned against McCarthy, and the U.S. Senate censured him for unprofessional conduct toward his Senate colleagues. But a case can surely be made that some of these very Senators engaged in precisely the same unprofessional conduct toward McCarthy.
After the censure McCarthy lost his drive and gradually drifted into heavy drinking leading to serious health problems. Some believe that he drank himself to death. But the manner in which he was ostracized by the Washington establishment was a shameful display of cruel juvenile behavior that could have been easily avoided if only Washington were run by mature adults and not children playing in a sandbox.
As Evans so aptly put it, McCarthy was, indeed, blacklisted by history because those who write the history in the political and educational establishment failed to tell the complete story and certainly refused to tell the whole truth about McCarthy.
McCarthy has been totally vindicated by the historical record. At the very least the Smithsonian needs a complete revision of its McCarthy biography. A total rewrite would be even better.
My latest entry is now posted on my blog in the popular series, Musings After Midnight, titled, “The Stealth War.”
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