Conservative Political Climate of Today

McCarthyism and the Conservative Political Climate of Today
 
 
 
    FOR ALMOST fifty years, the words “McCarthy” and “McCarthyism” have stood for a shameful period in American political history. During this period, thousands of people lost their jobs and hundreds were sent to prison. The U.S. government executed Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, two Communist Party (CP) members, as Russian spies. All of these people were victims of McCarthyism, the witch-hunt during the 1940s and 1950s against Communists and other leftists, trade unionists and civil rights activists, intellectuals and artists. Named for the witch-hunt’s most zealous prosecutor, Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R-Wis.), McCarthyism was the most…show more content…
The novel is an open, unabashed effort to turn McCarthy into a misunderstood, unappreciated hero.
 
 
 
    It’s not surprising that self-identified conservatives like Buckley would want to rehabilitate one of their heroes. But what is most disturbing about the efforts to restore McCarthy’s good name has been the pathetic response of many on the left. Anti-McCarthy historian Ellen Schrecker urged a cease-fire on criticism of Kazan’s award on the grounds that we should “separate Kazan the informer and Kazan the artist.”[4] Even worse, Miriam and Walter Schneir, who established a case for the Rosenbergs’ innocence in Invitation to an Inquest,[5] now say they were wrong. “Twenty years ago, I would have said that there weren’t a significant number of American Communists who spied,” liberal historian Maurice Isserman told the New York Times Magazine. “It’s no longer possible to hold that view.”[6]
 
 
 
In all of the charges and countercharges, it is easy to lose sight of what McCarthyism meant to millions of ordinary Americans. Miriam Zahler, the daughter of Detroit Communists, recalls:
 
My worst nightmare when I was seven or eight was that my mother would be taken away…as the Rosenbergs had been from [their children]. Ethel and Julius were at the very center of my terror…I asked my mother why the Rosenbergs were in jail. For passing out some leaflets, she
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