Thursday, October 23, 2008

Witchhunts. They're trying to make a comeback!

by AF

I remember the election of 1994, when for the first time in 42 years, Republicans finally re-gained control of both houses of the US Congress. It was not since the election of 1952 that Americans gave them the majority and with it free reign to do their evil worst.

Almost 14 years ago I fretted and feared a swift return to the era of McCarthyism, HUAC, red-baiting and blacklisting Commie witch hunts that had long been the hallmarks of that party. They had been out of power for so long I was sure they were itching to get back in there and pick up where they left off.

With the midterm election of 1954, after the Senate censured McCarthy for his extremism, the country had finally been pushed to the point of soundly routing them as rulers and, having seen what they are capable of, kept their authority in check for nearly half a century.

Of course, the first order of business for the newly restored Republican Congress was payback. While they were unable to throw their weight around for all those years they suffered the humiliation of their party leader's resignation in disgrace in 1974 and the Supreme Court's decision in Roe v Wade. So it did not take long before they accelerated their so-far unsuccessful campaign to re-criminalize free reproductive choice and, of course, do everything they could to take down President Bill Clinton through long drawn-out and expensive investigation and impeachment. Meanwhile they tried to stack the Courts with far-right justices.

With the disastrous effects of the last 14 years we can only be thankful that they did not get further along in their hateful agenda before now when the country seems to have reached the point of disgust with them again on a national scale.

One of the contributing reasons to their ineffectiveness this time has been the need to couch their frankly fascist agenda in terms that did not explicitly rekindle the outrage that thinking Americans would recognize as the extreme language used by Joseph McCarthy and the House UnAmerican Activities Committee. Back in the 50s they still called a commie a commie.

Until now they have been very cautious not to invoke the language and images of those televised hearings that blew the cover off their bogus witch hunts that finally brought on their demise after Joseph Nye Welch famously stood up and rebuked Senator McCarthy. It was during one of McCarthy's typically extreme Senate hearings on supposedly "Anti-American" activities in the military when Welch, head attorney for the US Army, uttered the remark, "You've done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?"

We may not need a new Joseph Nye Welch to stand and shame the likes of Sara Palin and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann who have been shooting off their big mouths lately with their neo-McCarthyite rhetoric about "Real Americans" and most recently resorting outright to inflammatory labels like "Socialists" when they refer to Senators Barack Obama, Joe Biden and anyone else who doesn't toe their fascist party line. They themselves have begun to rip the cover clean off the real Republican agenda in their desperate attempt to escape another routing and 50 years of exile after the upcoming election.

If you need one more reflection on famous quotes from American history in order to steel your nerves when you go to the polls in two weeks, remember the ominous 1935 quote from Sinclair Lewis who said, "When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."

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