Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Real Danger of McCarthyism

Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) is about to hold hearings into the radicalization of American Muslim communities. The battle lines have already been drawn, and the fact that King is a former supporter of the IRA who still views the Irish terrorist group with sympathy shows that he is clearly not the right person to hold hearings this sensitive. Murder is murder no matter in whose name or for what cause it is committed.

But the problem of radicalization in Muslim communities is a real one that Muslim groups and well-intentioned civil libertaraians can't make go away by screaming that it is bigotry to point it out. There is indeed a danger of McCarthyism here, but let's remember that one of the worst things the late unlamented senator from Wisconsin did was to discredit anticommunism in the eyes of liberals who were able to dismiss all such accusations as the product of demagoguery. The historian of Stalinism Robert Conquest says that Russian friends have suggested to him in all seriousness that McCarthy may have been a KGB agent! Remember, the former government official Alger Hiss was in fact a Soviet spy, but many liberals refused to believe it because it was Richard Nixon who discovered the evidence and held the hearings, and many Republicans did indeed wish to paint the entire New Deal with a pink brush. It is very dismaying to see that nobody has learned anything at all from this sorry history.

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