MONTGOMERY VILLAGE, Md., April 13, 2012 — On April 10, Congressman Allen West (R-Fla.) responded to a question from the moderator of a Florida town hall meeting by stating that between 78 to 81 Democratic members of Congress were members of the Communist party. The transcript of the exchange:
Moderator: “What percentage of the American legislature do you think are card-carrying Marxists or International Socialist?”
West: “It’s a good question. I believe there’s about 78 to 81 members of the Democrat Party who are members of the Communist Party. It’s called the Congressional Progressive Caucus.” (See video below)
For anyone familiar with the McCarthy Congressional hearings in the 1950s on supposed Communists in government, this statement brought back one of the darkest passages in recent American history.
Taking advantage of the fear generated with the expansion of the Soviet Union after World War II, the obscure Republican senator from Wisconsin, Joseph Raymond McCarthy started, and for some time continued, a series of hearings to identify Communists that according to his informants (who were never bona fide), occupied high positions in the government and private businesses. People were questioned at these hearings on their involvement with the Communist Party with no regard for the truth.
People’s reputations were destroyed on little or no evidence. The Senate finally sanctioned McCarthy, and he all but vanished from the American scene. He left us McCarthyism as a term associated with accusations without evidence but with a great deal of malice.
American history has condemned this period and one reads about it as an example of the excesses of a past era. Even during the Cold War years, the witch-hunts of McCarthyism were seen as excesses not to be repeated in the future.
This is why the remarks from a Right Wing Republican has to make us take note on what too many in the GOP are saying to vilify and defeat any opposition. They may be counting on the selected memory of those who should know better and the ignorance of those who refuse history and thus are condemned to repeat it.
Another possible explanation is that the Republicans have decided that the only way they can overcome a poor candidate, a war on women, and an extreme Right flank is to go back to what was successful in the past, if only temporarily.
A spokeswoman for Congressman West later clarified his comments by saying, “The Congressman was referring to the 76 members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. The Communist Party has publicly referred to the Progressive Caucus as its allies. The Progressive Caucus speaks for itself. These individuals certainly aren’t proponents of free markets or individual economic freedom.”
Maybe because some of my acquaintances either believe I may not be too convinced about my own political beliefs or because they want to drown me in Right Wing political facts, I get many messages indicating how the Democrats, President Obama, and the press want to destroy our country. Lately the rhetoric has been directed at how the Marxist/Communist/Socialist in the White House wants to kill anything that is good in America. Anything short of a completely deregulated capitalism is seen as treasonous.
In a video one of these “friends” sent me about the Global Warming/Climate Change “hoax,” a “scientist” explains how the Communists, hippies and discontents who “lost” the Cold War have taken up environmental and political movements to try to gain by underhanded means what they lost in the 1980s. Basically it warns that we should be aware that the local environmentalist may be a fifth columnist.
In a recent article, Sarah Robinson of AlterNet discusses how former candidate Santorum had made accusations about the California higher education system that were completely false and disjointed. Her point was that whether the facts are truthful is not the point. She indicates that the point of the incoherent statements was to signal to his Right Wing constituents that the next prey of the Right are to be the public universities.
This article finally made clear to me how so many false statements are being circulated. It is not whether they are true or false, it is a signal that the subject is going to be attacked by those on the Right. Of course if the ignorant and fanatical amongst their followers (wait that is the same set!) choose to believe the lies and half-truths, all the better.
Maybe Congressman West is engaging in the same strategy. He is preaching to people that are probably ignorant of history and that are not really interested in hearing the truth. Maybe there is a subliminal element that is being read by the Right Wing zombies that the next attack is to be on the Congressmen that he despises. I guess if he is to start a witch hunt, he couldn’t pick a better way to motivate his minions.
Congressman West should take some time and read one of the most significant episodes from the McCarthy era. When Joe McCarthy was interrogating Joseph Welch, head counsel for the Army, he mentioned the name of a young attorney, indicating that he had been a member of the National Lawyers Guild, an organization that FBI director J. Edgar Hoover was investigating. Mr. Welch tried to dissuade McCarthy from continuing down this path. When he was unsuccessful, he chastised the senator, saying:
“Senator, may we not drop this? We know he belonged to the Lawyers Guild….Let us not assassinate this lad further, Senator. You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”
The gallery broke out in applause.
Have some decency, Congressman West. Don’t accuse your fellow members of the House of Communism just to keep your political fringe happy.
Sadly, at least until the elections are over, we will continue to be bombarded by messages that don’t make sense. However, I am convinced that the American public will show these snake oil salesmen that we are not as stupid as they think we are.
Mario Salazar, the 21st Century Pacifist, is a bleeding heart liberal, agnostic, exercise fanatic, Redskin fan, technophile, civil engineer, combat infantry veteran, jewelry maker, amateur computer programmer, environmental engineer, Colombian-born, free thinker, and, not surprisingly, pacifist. You can find his articles - ranging from politics to cooking a mean brisket - in 21st Century Pacifist <http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/21st-century-pacifist/> at The Washington Times Communities. Follow Mario on Twitter @chibcharus #TWTC and Facebook at Mario Salazar.
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