Blacklisted by History -- Updated

I am getting angrier and angrier as I go through Blacklisted by History by M. Stanton Evans. Using original source documents, in contrast to most historians commenting on the subject, Mr. Evens demonstrates that Senator Joseph McCarthy was more a victim of "McCarthyism" than the perpetrator.

Most Americans naively seem to think that the House Un-American Activities Committee was run by Joseph McCarthy. McCarthy was a Senator from Wisconsin and therefore had nothing to do with running a House committee. Joseph McCarthy's sins for which he was censured had to do with exposing the lax security for vetting employees of the State Department, not Hollywood. The censure was about supposed lying, where unchallenged and unsupported State Department denials were taken as gospel over Senator McCarthy's evidence.

Before the famous hearings in 1950, Sen. McCarthy pleaded repeatedly that his discussion of Soviet agents and sympathizers in the State Department be done not publicly, but in executive session, a request that was denied him (until too late).

It is abundantly clear, based upon documentation that is now available that Senator McCarthy had plenty of evidence upon which to base his charges, but the Truman Administration and the Democrats controlling the Senate were far more interested in political damage control than in national security.

The book is fascinating and well-researched. Early in the book we learn of a buried-in-the-record-recently-disclosed memo from Senator Millard Tydings to the counsel for Tydings's subcommittee which attacked Senator McCarthy. this memo really explains everything that happened, in advance.

Read the book and get angry.

Political cover-ups are not new. We saw plenty disclosed in the Nixon Administration and the attack-the-messenger strategies of the Clinton administration. I am sure these administration strategies are not rare, as undiscovered and unreported.

Bad government is a singular and an inescapable problem in political systems, all of them. Ours may be the best yet devised, but it is still flawed. Joseph McCarthy, we learn, was a victim of the political zeal of the administration in power.

Update: For an excellent blog discussion of Blacklisted By History, go here.

Comments

Mark LaRochelle said…
I agree with you about Blacklisted by History. It is by far the most important study of McCarthy to date. Soon all those with a personal stake in the mythologized history of the McCarthy era will have passed on. Then disinterested historians will be able to look back on this period dispassionately, and this book will be the standard work on the subject.

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