April 22, 2014
JESSE WALKER: Four Great Myths Of The McCarthy Era.
The great radical myth of the Red Scare is that it was nothing but a scare—that the Americans accused of being Russian agents were virtually all innocent. (It’s hard to maintain that position now that the Venona files have been released and some of the left’s biggest causes célèbres have come crumbling down—at this point even Julius Rosenberg’s children have acknowledged that he was a spy—but some folks still hold onto the dream.) The great conservative myth of the period, meanwhile, is that the espionage justified the witch-hunts. People like Ann Coulter and M. Stanton Evans have taken to declaring that McCarthy was right without acknowledging that the bulk of his accusations were false, and that this was true of many other red-hunters too. And then there’s the great liberal myth of the period: the idea that the libs of the day managed to plot a course between the Soviet apologists and the paranoid hysterics, striking a delicate balance between protecting the country’s liberties and protecting its security. In fact, the Red Scare, like the Cold War itself, had liberal fingerprints all over it. . . . Speaking of Kennedy: His brother Bobby, later a liberal heartthrob, was a counsel for the McCarthy committee, and McCarthy was godfather to Bobby’s first child.
If you don’t like the history you’ve got, just rewrite it!