Sixty years ago this week, on December 2, 1954, Senator Joseph McCarthy (R-WI) was censured by his fellow senators for his reckless and disgraceful behavior. McCarthy made a name for himself as a communist hunter, going after alleged commies in the Federal Government, with little or no evidence and an abundance of bravado. In the process he ruined the lives of innocent people. He is now commonly seen as a witch hunter (a man on a false mission for personal motives) and his very name has become a negative expression of unAmerican actions, McCarthyism.
Donald “I’m better than everybody because I say so” Trump has been saying outlandish things for decades but we have all become aware of his rude, racist, compulsively disrespectful, willfully ignorant, lying, and reactionary mindset in recent months, thanks to his Presidential Campaign. This populist, some are now beginning to revise this to “fascist” blowhard, is very popular with the same sort of people who once supported McCarthy, The John Birch Society, and other conspiracy-minded, bigoted fringe groups on the far right of American politics. Neither Trump nor his supporters are the, “real conservatives,” that they claim to be. Like most of their proclamations, this claim substitutes volume for reason and demands your adherence, or you will face the wrath of this vengeful mob of, “freedom loving Americans.” The Trump, McCarthy, Bircher, etc. worldview is forthrightly Orwellian.
Yesterday, Trump was speaking at the Republican Jewish Coalition Presidential Candidates Forum in Washington, DC (that’s a mouthful), when he expressed a common complaint: “Radical Islamic terrorism — we have a president who refuses to use the term.” What stood out to me was Trump’s follow up point, “There’s something going on with him that we don’t know about.” Trump, who still seems to be in the birther camp (believing that President Obama faked his birth certificate) also seems to believe that Mr. Obama is a Muslim, or at least in league with the Muslims, against, “us.” This kind of thinking, these kinds of charges, are no more rational than the old claims that President Kennedy and President Eisenhower were communist agents, and they should make every patriotic American disgusted.
It doesn’t matter if you like Trump’s stance on this or that issue. It doesn’t matter if you are a fan of his TV show or his hotels. It doesn’t matter if you think that President Obama is the worst President we have ever had. History is crying out to us! A man like Trump, a McCarthy in billionaire clothing, must never be given political power!
When journalist Edward R. Murrow tried to warn his fellow citizens about McCarthy he famously told them to, “remember that we are not descended from fearful men.” What he neglected to note is that the fearful men are always with us, pretending to be the saviors we long for.