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NYT: "McCarthy Years...Similar to the Present" - February 26, 2002



NYT: "McCarthy Years...Similar to the Present" On FNC Morton Kondracke of Roll Call condemned a Sunday New York Times "Week in Review" piece which began: "As President Bush toured Asia last week, some world leaders worried publicly that the war on terrorism was starting to look suspiciously like the last great American campaign - against Communism." As if thats a bad thing?

Times reporter Robert Worth lamented: "The first victims of anti-Communist hysteria were immigrants, and hundreds of immigrants have been detained since Sept. 11, many with little apparent cause beyond the fact that they were Middle Eastern men." Worth warned: "The McCarthy years in some ways were eerily similar to the present moment."

After quoting Attorney General John Ashcroft as saying, "a calculated, malignant, devastating evil has arisen in our world. Civilization cannot afford to ignore the wrongs that have been done," Worth asserted: "It is not hard to see in Mr. Ashcroft's language traces of what the historian Richard Hofstadter famously described as the paranoid style in American politics."

During the roundtable on Mondays Special Report with Brit Hume, Kondracke opined: "The editors of the Week in Review section ought to be ashamed of themselves. This piece belongs in the Nation or the Progressive or some other, you know, America-hating publication. I mean the idea, just the whole premise of the piece was that communism was okay and that to have an American campaign against communism was somehow bad."

Kondracke later added: "He says that world leaders are worried that were doing again were doing toward terrorists what we did toward communist. Well good, they should be glad about that."

An excerpt from the February 24 piece, headlined "A Nation Defined by Its Enemies," by Robert Worth: ....America's discovery of an enemy who is not merely an enemy, but "evil," has impeccable historical credentials. In a long history of responding to real and perceived threats, it seems clear that this large, heterogenous country defines itself in part through its nemeses.

The language Mr. Bush and others have used to describe Al Qaeda terrorists sometimes sounds as though it could have been written by Cotton Mather. Ever since the Puritans arrived in New England, civic and political leaders have often issued the same warning: sinister conspirators are spreading invisibly through the land, a cabal of evil and dangerous men who are bent on subverting this shining city on a hill. As Attorney General John Ashcroft put it recently: "A calculated, malignant, devastating evil has arisen in our world. Civilization cannot afford to ignore the wrongs that have been done."

This is by no means to suggest that the terrorists who struck on Sept. 11, or who kidnapped and murdered the Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, aren't evil, or that it is not necessary to say so. But when the nation's enemies are used as highly emotional political symbols, it becomes easy to lose touch with the reality of their acts and motives - and thus fail to better understand how to defeat or influence them. It is not hard to see in Mr. Ashcroft's language traces of what the historian Richard Hofstadter famously described as "the paranoid style in American politics."...

While all nations regard their causes as just, and all demonize their enemies, the combination of American might and its longstanding self-image as uniquely virtuous irritates even its allies. Europeans, for example, have largely tended to use more pragmatic language and embrace realpolitik in foreign policy matters....

It is an outlook rooted in two distinctive American traditions, said Eric Foner, a historian at Columbia University. The country's religious roots and its continuing high level of religious faith make Americans more likely to see enemies not just as opponents but as evil. Linked to that is the belief that America is the world's last best hope of liberty, so that those who oppose America become the enemies of freedom. In the 1770's, colonial pamphleteers described King George III of England as a vicious tyrant who was secretly spreading Catholicism in the land, said Edmund S. Morgan, a professor emeritus of history at Yale University. But by the late 1790's, America had turned on the French, their former allies against the British, and were calling them underground papists too, "devil-like creatures and the most abominable wicked people," according to one newspaper account.... And of course, the 1950's brought the renewed Communist menace, "a conspiracy on a scale so immense as to dwarf any previous such venture in the history of man," in the words of Senator Joseph McCarthy.

The McCarthy years in some ways were eerily similar to the present moment. For example, Samuel Stouffer, a Harvard sociologist doing research on attitudes toward Communism in the early 1950's, found a generalized anxiety that the country was under attack by unseen enemies bent on global domination.... There are of course crucial differences between Al Qaeda and the Soviets, who represented a much broader military and political threat but did not practice terrorism against American civilians. And the added vigilance of recent months may well have prevented other attacks. But it remains true that like the terrorists today, and the Catholics in the 19th century, Communists were often conceived as moral monsters whose deviousness and unwavering dedication to their faith made them capable of almost anything. Whittaker Chambers, who saw in Communism "the concentrated evil of our time," wrote in his classic cold war memoir, "Witness": "Their power, whose nature baffles the rest of the world, because in large measure the rest of the world has lost that power, is the power to hold convictions and act on them. It is the same power that moves mountains; it is also an unfailing power to move men." In one sense, the discovery of a new source of "concentrated evil" comes as something of a relief, said John Gaddis, a professor of political science at Yale University who has been discussing the cold war parallel with his students since Sept. 11. "All of a sudden there's something worse than American hegemony out there," he said. "That throws a new light on complaints about American unilateralism, and makes it easier for us to act internationally."... END of Excerpt\ I cant take any more. On that last point, lets hope it allows the U.S. to act alone. If we had followed the advice of the leftists Worth so admires the U.S. hockey team would have played against the USSR team at the Olympics last Friday. Theres a lot more anti-U.S. liberal raving in the article and its worth registering with the New York Times to read it all so you can appreciate the moral relativism in Europe and academia which sees the United States as the threat to civilization and mocks efforts to beat communism or terrorism as just a justification for an "enemy" needed to fuel our hegemony. For the entire piece: http://www.nytimes.com/2002/02/24/weekinreview/24WORT.html