Providing moral perspective

A letter I’ve just sent.

I picked up a copy of The Penguin Book of Twentieth Century Speeches and came across the Wheeling WV speech by Joe McCarthy which seemed so up to the minute that I immediately wrote this post: Where’s Joe McCarthy when you need him?

I have in the last couple of weeks or so read three things that have really brought our current moral predicaments further into the light for me. The first one was a 1913 biography written by John Jay Chapman, someone I had never heard of until about a month ago, writing on William Lloyd Garrison, who derived his entire will to overcome slavery through his Christian faith. And then I came across a book published in 1944 titled The Ten Commandments which were ten short novels in which ten famous authors of the time each wrote a story on one of the commandments. Clear in every page how important Christian thought was in providing the moral perspective in the fight against the Nazis. And then there was McCarthy himself who based what he did and said on the perspective provided for him in Christian thought.

But in discussing all this with others, a few things came to light to make me see how much has changed that make what McCarthy said as recently as the 1950s almost a dead letter today. First, everyone I know is an atheist. That I think of the world as we know it as designed but without any real notion of who the designer was or for what purpose, but almost with certainty not the random outcome of molecular collision, makes me well outside the norms of our modern mis-educated elites, but still not a Christian in any traditional sense. Therefore, the distinction between Christianity and “atheistic” communism is something almost no one I would discuss these things with would understand. I think the absence of Christian morality makes someone in today’s world a leaf in the wind but so what? They don’t think they are and who is anyone else to say they are? Then, as Garrison emphasised himself, slave owners were Christian and used the Bible as the basis to justify what they did. Beyond that, with Islam on the other side of the ledger, however else we might describe them, they are not “atheists” in any sense of the word. They are at war with the Christian world, but which aspect of the Christian world unifies us on our side? And then where is the word that can replace communism? The Soviets completely discredited “communism” but have hardly lain a finger on “socialism”, even though the second “S” in USSR was “Socialist”. It is clear that the anti-Christian left are now teaming up with Islam in one final onslaught against what remains of Christian morality, but few among our elites will defend what passes for morality today as “Christian”, even though that is what it is even if they don’t know or understand it. As I am told, you don’t have to believe in God to be a good person – just look at me, they say, and of course they are right. But then I look at others, and am not as sure as I was.

Meanwhile, the editor of the 20th Century Speeches volume summary begins, “The smear tactics of McCarthy and his philistine contempt for intellectuals …”, and on my blog, even though I don’t publish comments I do get them, and the first one was, “even a stopped watch is right twice a day”. The real difficulty is to know where and how to get a secure footing today in dealing with moral questions. I put this post up a week ago about looking for a book of Bible stories for my granddaughter, but while the Bible as literature is important, the Bible as morality is more important. And now it may all soon be gone.

And then there’s this – “9 charts that prove there’s never been a better time to be alive”

The charts demonstrate that the creativity of our Western civilisation is bringing a new prosperity to the entire planet, but whether it is bringing contentment is a different story altogether. And then, by coincidence, I came across this just today, in Paul Johnson’s Intellectuals, p66:

What Gladstone said, commenting on the increase in national wealth, was: ‘I should look almost with apprehension and with pain upon this intoxicating augmentation of wealth and power if it were my belief that it was confined to the class who are in easy circumstances…. The average condition of the British labourer, we have the happiness to know, has improved during the last twenty years in a degree which we know to be extraordinary, and which we may almost pronounce to be unexampled in in the history of any country and of any age.’

Whether this is the best time ever to have been alive, I do not know, but it is certainly our time. Hope you are making the best of it.

Where’s Joe McCarthy when you need him?

You cannot, of course, find a copy of Joe McCarthy’s speeches in any context other than negative, except perhaps here or in the writings of Diana West and M. Stanton Evans. Other than a few additions just to bring things up to the moment, these are McCarthy’s own words, even truer and more terrifying today than when they were first stated because the enemy is now almost entirely within the gates.

Speech of Joseph McCarthy, Wheeling, West Virginia, February 9, 1950

Ladies and gentlemen, tonight as we celebrate the one hundred forty-first two hundred and ninth birthday of one of the greatest men in American history, I would like to be able to talk about what a glorious day today is in the history of the world. As we celebrate the birth of this man who with his whole heart and soul hated war, I would like to be able to speak of peace in our time—of war being outlawed—and of world-wide disarmament. These would be truly appropriate things to be able to mention as we celebrate the birthday of Abraham Lincoln.

Five years after a world war has been won, men’s hearts should anticipate a long peace—and men’s minds should be free from the heavy weight that comes with war. But this is not such a period—for this is not a period of peace. This is a time of “the cold war.” This is a time when all the world is split into two three, perhaps four, vast, increasingly hostile armed camps — a time of a great armament race.

Today we can almost physically hear the mutterings and rumblings of an invigorated god of war. You can see it, feel it, and hear it all the way from the Indochina hills, from the shores of Formosa Taiwan, right over into the very heart of Europe itself.

The one encouraging thing is that the “mad moment” has not yet arrived for the firing of the gun or the exploding of the bomb which will set civilization about the final task of destroying itself. There is still a hope for peace if we finally decide that no longer can we safely blind our eyes and close our ears to those facts which are shaping up more and more clearly . . . and that is that we are now engaged in a show-down fight . . . not the usual war between nations for land areas or other material gains, but a war between two diametrically opposed ideologies.

The great difference between our western Christian world the atheistic Communist world and those who are our enemies is not political, gentlemen, it is moral. For instance, the Marxian idea of confiscating the land and factories and running the entire economy as a single enterprise is momentous. Likewise, Lenin’s invention of the one-party police state as a way to make Marx’s idea work is hardly less momentous.

Stalin’s resolute putting across of these two ideas, of course, did much to divide the world. With only these differences, however, the east and the west could most certainly still live in peace.

The real, basic difference, however, lies in the religion of immoralism . . . invented by Marx, preached feverishly by Lenin, and carried to unimaginable extremes by Stalin. This religion of immoralism, if the Red half of the world triumphs — and well it may, gentlemen — this religion of immoralism will more deeply wound and damage mankind than any conceivable economic or political system.

Karl Marx dismissed God as a hoax, and Lenin and Stalin have added in clear-cut, unmistakable language their resolve that no nation, no people who believe in a god, can exist side by side with their communistic state.

Karl Marx, for example, expelled people from his Communist Party for mentioning such things as love, justice, humanity or morality. He called this “soulful ravings” and “sloppy sentimentality.” . . .

Today we are engaged in a final, all-out battle between communistic atheism and Christianity. The modern champions of communism have selected this as the time, and ladies and gentlemen, the chips are down—they are truly down.

Lest there be any doubt that the time has been chosen, let us go directly to the leader of communism today—Joseph Stalin. Here is what he said—not back in 1928, not before the war, not during the war — but 2 years after the last war was ended: “To think that the Communist revolution can be carried out peacefully, within the framework of a Christian democracy, means one has either gone out of one’s mind and lost all normal understanding, or has grossly and openly repudiated the Communist revolution.” . . .

Ladies and gentlemen, can there be anyone tonight who is so blind as to say that the war is not on? Can there by anyone who fails to realize that the Communist world has said the time is now? . . . that this is the time for the show-down between the democratic Christian world and the communistic atheistic [and anti-Christian] world?

Unless we face this fact, we shall pay the price that must be paid by those who wait too long.

As one of our outstanding historical figures once said, “When a great democracy is destroyed, it will not be from enemies from without, but rather because of enemies from within.” . . .

The reason why we find ourselves in a position of impotency is not because our only powerful potential enemy has enemies have sent men to invade our shores . . . but rather because of the traitorous actions of those who have been treated so well by this Nation. It has not been the less fortunate, or members of minority groups who have been traitorous to this Nation, but rather those who have had all the benefits that the wealthiest Nation on earth has had to offer . . . the finest homes, the finest college education and the finest jobs in government we can give.

This is glaringly true in the State Department [along with, today, the FBI, and Department of Justice and who knows where else?]. There the bright young men who are born with silver spoons in their mouths are the ones who have been most traitorous. . . .

I have here in my hand a list of 205 . . . a list of names that were made known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist Party and who nevertheless are still working and shaping policy in the State Department. . . .

As you know, very recently the Secretary of State proclaimed his loyalty to a man guilty of what has always been considered as the most abominable of all crimes — being a traitor to the people who gave him a position of great trust — high treason. . . .

He has lighted the spark which is resulting in a moral uprising and will end only when the whole sorry mess of twisted, warped thinkers are swept from the national scene so that we may have a new birth of honesty and decency in government.

Two days later, McCarthy spoke again. It is impossible to adjust the words because the rot has been so deep and the anti-freedom party has grown so large. You will see the point unless it is your desire not to.

Joseph McCarthy, addressing President Harry Truman, February 11, 1950

In the Lincoln Day speech at Wheeling Thursday night I stated that the State Department harbors a nest of Communists and Communist sympathizers who are helping to shape our foreign policy. I further stated that I have in my possession the names of 57 Communists who are in the State Department at present. A State Department spokesman promptly denied this, claiming that there is not a single Communist in the Department. You can convince yourself of the falsity of the State Department claim very easily. You will recall that you personally appointed a board to screen State Department employees for the purpose of weeding out fellow travelers—men whom the board considered dangerous to the security of this Nation. Your board did a painstaking job, and named hundreds which had been listed as dangerous to the security of the Nation, because of communistic connections.

While the records are not available to me, I know absolutely of one group of approximately 300 certified to the Secretary for discharge because of communism. He actually only discharged approximately 80. I understand that this was done after lengthy consultation with the now-convicted traitor, Alger Hiss. I would suggest, therefore, Mr. President, that you simply pick up your phone and ask Mr. Acheson how many of those whom your board had labeled as dangerous Communists he failed to discharge. The day the House Un-American Activities Committee exposed Alger Hiss as an important link in an international Communist spy ring you signed an order forbidding the State Department’s giving any information in regard to the disloyalty or the communistic connections of anyone in that Department to the Congress.

Despite this State Department black-out, we have been able to compile a list of 57 Communists in the State Department. This list is available to you but you can get a much longer list by ordering Secretary Acheson to give you a list of those whom your own board listed as being disloyal and who are still working in the State Department. I believe the following is the minimum which can be expected of you in this case.

1. That you demand that Acheson give you and the proper congressional committee the names and a complete report on all of those who were placed in the Department by Alger Hiss, and all of those still working in the State Department who were listed by your board as bad security risks because of their communistic connections.

2. That you promptly revoke the order in which you provided under no circumstances could a congressional committee obtain any information or help in exposing Communists.

Failure on your part will label the Democratic Party of being the bedfellow of international communism. Certainly this label is not deserved by the hundreds of thousands of loyal American Democrats throughout the Nation, and by the sizable number of able loyal Democrats in both the Senate and the House.

That was then. Today it is a conspiracy so vast it is almost impossible to fathom its extent. The Democratic Party, the Greens, the left in general, the media, the “entertainment” industry, the academic world and even big business who are, as ever, too short-sighted to understand a thing other than the bottom line, are now almost beyond reach. Other than the American president, who is there in a position of authority and power who can be the counterweight to the fantastic array of enemies our freedoms and our way of life now face?

An instructive parallel

There is, for some reason, a desire on the right to continuously play into the hands of the left on Joe McCarthy. Joe Biden’s son was brought into the army at age 43 and then, within a month, has been booted out because he has tested positive for cocaine. Obviously a minor scandal for this administration and representative of the moral laxity of the left. Not so fast. This is from The Weekly Standard and comes with the title, Biden Cocaine Scandal Mirrors Joe McCarthy Scandal just so you cannot miss the core point that the story is absolutely not about Biden but McCarthy. The final paras bring up this supposed parallel from the 1950s.

A more instructive parallel, however, might be to Sen. Joseph McCarthy, of all people. When one of McCarthy’s Senate aides, G. David Schine, was drafted into the Army and sent to basic training at Ft. Monmouth, N.J., Roy Cohn, another McCarthy aide and reputedly Schine’s lover, intervened persistently to obtain an officer’s commission for Schine. When the Army protested about repeated threats and interference from the senator’s office, McCarthy charged that the Army was attempting to retaliate against his investigations into communist subversion in the armed forces. The televised hearings that were held during April-June 1954 to investigate the matter — the famous Army-McCarthy hearings — not only revealed that McCarthy and his staff had repeatedly wielded their influence on behalf of Schine, but had done so despite Schine’s complete lack of qualifications for an officer’s commission.

The differences between Joseph McCarthy and Joseph Biden are self-evident, of course. But just as the effort to make G. David Schine an Army officer taught the country something about Senator McCarthy, so the brief, inglorious naval career of Hunter Biden tells us something about Vice President Biden — and the culture of entitlement in political Washington that has tarnished the Navy.

And why did I find it? Because it is one of the picks on Powerline who must themselves think this is one of the major issues of our time to give it such prominence. They don’t get it, do they? The lessons McCarthy should have taught us is how easy it is for our enemies to penetrate to the highest ranks of an Administration, which you can read about in Diana West’s American Betrayal. Harry Hopkins (who?) ought to be a lesson we can learn from but apparently the only lesson is that McCarthy may or may not have used influence to get one of his assistants an officer’s commission.

If we are looking for instructive parallels today, what McCarthy did sixty years ago would be the last last place you should look but with some people it’s never a bad time to kick a good man when he’s down.

Joe McCarthy was not a McCarthyist

Joe McCarthy is a name so long gone into history that all that remains is that he was the bad kind of defender of our values against totalitarian tyranny. Yes, we are told, there were a few communist spies in the West but however bad Stalinism and communism might have been, what McCarthy did was much much worse. So if we were going to rate McCarthyism and Stalinism on the Political Richter Scale, Stalin would come in at around a 6 but Senator Joe would be a 9. A very handy scaling for the left since at various times when someone attempts to draw attention to what it does and where it aims to go, out comes the handy dandy McCarthyist tag. Sometimes it works better than other times, but since the conservative side of politics has adopted the left’s view of McCarthy, it is a very effective tactic. But it will only work if you think McCarthy was in the wrong.

McCarthyist tactics are, in fact, the preserve of the left. They are the experts in labelling others with some kind of tag that may or may not fit but does cause those they attack to retreat. A very interesting example of the effect such labelling can have may be found just the other day. Andrew Bolt put up a post which he titled, Called racist just once too often. To fight or to hide? and whose point may be found in the opening paras:

STRANGE, after all I’ve been through, but Monday on the ABC may have been finally too much for me.

You see, I was denounced on Q&A – on national television – as a racist. I watched in horror as Aboriginal academic Marcia Langton falsely accused me of subjecting one of her colleagues – “very fair-skinned, like my children” – to “foul abuse … simply racial abuse”.

Langton falsely claimed I was a “fool” who believed in “race theories” and had “argued that (her colleague) had no right to claim that she was Aboriginal”. I had so hurt this woman she “withdrew from public life” and had given up working with students (something seemingly contradicted by the CV on her website).

And when Attorney-General George Brandis hotly insisted I was not racist, the ABC audience laughed in derision. . . .

My wife now wants me to play safe and stop fighting this new racism, and this time I’m listening.

This time I was so bruised by Q&A that I didn’t go into work on Tuesday. I couldn’t stand any sympathy – which you get only when you’re meant to feel hurt.

Andrew Bolt is not a racist but the label does penetrate. Call him a racist and some of the mud will stick and it will undermine his willingness to take on the various issues he does. It will also tend to undermine his authority and ability to communicate. Andrew is unique in the country, not only for the clarity of his thought, but because of just how effective he is in bringing his message into the light. Shutting him up is a major aim of the left and calling him a racist is one of the ways this might be done.

Joe McCarthy was not a McCarthyist. Virtually every accusation he made has been established since his time. His interest was in the Roosevelt and Truman administrations and the government of the United States. Understanding the extent to which the White House was infiltrated with Soviet agents is still only in its infancy, with more revelations coming out year by year. That Senator McCarthy is bundled with the Democrats who ran the House UnAmerican Activities Committee (HUAC) is part of the way in which the issues are confused, again only to the benefit of the Democrats and the left.

I have an article at Quadrant Online that follows my January-February article, America – the Big Dumb Ox. The movie reviewer at Quadrant, whether because he was offended by my article or just as a matter of chance, decided to write a column attacking McCarthy in the usual leftist way. Having a spare few hours on a Saturday afternoon, I wrote a reply which you can read here. But what was particularly interesting for me was that his defence of McCarthy actually exposed the extent to which McCarthy was taken down by the usual media suspects of the left. Today we would see it for what it is, and there is the internet to defend those who stand up for our values. But McCarthy was the first to be exposed to this full frontal media attack and it was devastating. I therefore encourage you to read my post, and then if you are interested in such matters, to go on and read M. Stanton Evans brilliant Blacklisted by History. You will then see the world in a very different way.

Harvey Klehr on Joe McCarthy

This is from an article by Harvey Klehr on FrontPageMag with the title, “Setting the Record on Joe McCarthy Straight”.

But if McCarthy was right about some of the large issues, he was wildly wrong on virtually all of the details.

There is no indication that he had even a hint of the Venona decryptions, so he did not base his accusations on the information in them. Indeed, virtually none of the people that McCarthy claimed or alleged were Soviet agents turn up in Venona. He did identify a few small fry who we now know were spies but only a few. And there is little evidence that those he fingered were among the unidentified spies of Venona.

Many of his claims were wildly inaccurate; his charges filled with errors of fact, misjudgments of organizations and innuendoes disguised as evidence.

He failed to recognize or understand the differences among genuine liberals, fellow-traveling liberals, Communist dupes, Communists and spies — distinctions that were important to make.

The new information from Russian and American archives does not vindicate McCarthy. He remains a demagogue, whose wild charges actually made the fight against Communist subversion more difficult.

Like Gresham’s Law, McCarthy’s allegations marginalized the accurate claims. Because his facts were so often wrong, real spies were able to hide behind the cover of being one of his victims and even persuade well-meaning but naïve people that the whole anti-communist cause was based on inaccuracies and hysteria.

So who else was carrying the anti-communist cause at the time? Where are these wild inaccuracies? Just yesterday I was reading a book co-authored by Klehr* and I opened it at random onto a section dealing with Owen Lattimore who is treated as a possible Soviet agent but over whom judgment must be suspended. But see Blacklisted by History Chapter 29 and elsewhere. Seventy years later Klehr (and Haynes) can’t make up their minds. McCarthy was there, then, right on the spot, trying as best he could surrounded by enemies out to destroy his reputation. There may be a strategic sense in attacking McCarthy today although I barely see it and don’t accept it. But if Lattimore in their minds is a 50-50 or less, then who can really be a certainty unless they confess in open court? But let’s take this one para from the above quotation to see what we find:

He failed to recognize or understand the differences among genuine liberals, fellow-traveling liberals, Communist dupes, Communists and spies — distinctions that were important to make.

Let me see. McCarthy is trying to sort out all of this in real time on his own and didn’t quite make all the fine distinctions we still cannot make three generations later. If Klehr is still not willing to point the finger at Lattimore because we cannot be absolutely positively sure, then what was McCarthy supposed to do? He wasn’t writing some useless scholarly tract. He was trying to help save the West from communist tyranny. And it wasn’t the US that was directly endangered but large parts of Asia and Europe. But if the US was going to carry this fight, it had to first know it was in a fight. This kind of refined sorting things out seventy years later is supposedly “right-wing” political writing at its worst. And the thing is, what’s the issue if people like me think back on McCarthy in a positive way?

I could see an argument that says you don’t want to get caught up in any of this since the McCarthy name remains a stick to beat you with. If the argument went that this is one sleeping dog that should be left to lie, then I could acknowledge that there are genuine dangers in bringing McCarthy up. But that does not seem to be the point. The criticisms are about McCarthy, what he did and how he did it that for all I can see could easily be published in the Washington Post.

Well let me use the Deng Zhao Ping ratio of 70% good 30% bad since if that’s good enough for Mao it ought to be more than good enough for Joe McCarthy (how bout 90-10?). In my view, though, looking back but having watched the ways of the Left, the reason McCarthy became as notorious as he did was because he was so effective in what he did. I don’t know exactly what these McCarthyist tactics are supposed to mean, but if it means exposing the existence of evil doers in the State Department, I am all for it.

* John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr. 2006. Early Cold War Spies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. For the discussion on Owen Lattimore see Chapter 2 on Amerasia.