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Ed Driscoll

15 MINUTES INTO THE FUTURE

January 25th, 2003 - 1:55 pm

On Wednesday, James Lileks wrote:

Nowadays, if you point out that someone’s a Communist, you might well be accused of – dum dum DUMMMM – McCarthyism. The term has morphed from its original meaning. It no longer means falsely accusing someone of being a Communist. It now includes correctly identifying someone as a Communist, or ascribing a taint to someone because they don’t reject the Communists in their midst. (I’ll admit there’s a significant difference between the two.)

Yesterday’s New York Times, has finally gotten around to reporting on A.N.S.W.E.R.’s communist ties, almost a week after several other publications on both sides of the aisle did. The Times’ article has these lines, printed without comment or dissent by the reporter who wrote the article:

In an interview today, Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, a spokeswoman for Answer, said questions raised about the group’s role were “classic McCarthy-era Red-baiting.”

“When you select out the Socialists or Marxists,” she said, “the point is to demonize and divide and diminish a massive, growing movement.”

In reply, Glenn Reynolds writes:

It’s not McCarthyite to call people who are communists, communists. Communists, as devoted followers of murderous totalitarianism, deserve to be called to account every bit as much as their Nazi colleagues. And in the 21st century, they can hardly pretend to be ignorant of their ideology’s true nature.

But they’re always ready to use the “M” word at a moment’s notice, thus, as Lileks writes, perverting both its meaning, and the events in America during the 1950s.

1/29/03 UPDATE: For those clicking in from Counterspin, here’s Glenn Reynolds’ response to his post, which I’m pretty much in agreement on.

By the way, Counterspin seems to have confused me with James Lileks, whose comments I posted above, along with Glenn’s. But that’s OK–Lileks’ chops as a writer are so great, that I’m more than happy to be confused with him!