"HAVE YOU NO SENSE OF DECENCY LEFT?"

WHEN LIES AND PROPAGANDA RULE

It was 1954 and our new 12" black and white television had just been delivered.  After my dad installed the antenna on the roof, fiddled with the controls, we switched it on and my first TV exposure was the Army-McCarthy hearings then taking place in Congress.  For those of you who don't know who Joseph McCarthy(R-WI) was, at the time he was the junior Senator from Wisconsin (Yes, the same state that today brings us Scott Walker - some things never change.) and the Red Menace (not to be confused with our current Red State Menace) was sweeping the country like an unchecked Ebola plague.  Communism, it was alleged, was rotting the country from within and was destroying America.  



Following World War II with the occupation of Eastern Europe by the Soviet Union and the takeover by the Communists in China, the House Un-American Activities Committee began a series of hearings to ferret out avowed Communists in, first the Army, but quickly expanding to the Federal Government, most particularly the State Department, and to Hollywood, Unions, artists and other organizations and individuals.  The recent movie "Trumbo"starring Bryan Cranston of "Malcolm In The Middle" and "Breaking Bad" fame, depicts the anti-Communist paranoia that hit Hollywood at the time.  



Thousands of reputations were destroyed, jobs lost, suicides committed and in what is probably the most egregious outcome of this wave of rampant paranoia, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were convicted of spying for the Soviet Union and executed.  

The beginning of the end of McCarthy's witch hunt came with the testimony of Joseph Welch, a U. S. Army attorney defending one of his staff, Fred Fisher, against McCarthy's accusation that as a student he had been a member of The Lawyer's Guild, a Communist front according to McCarthy.




Today, we find ourselves in similar times where lies and propaganda seem to hold more sway than facts and data, truth if you will.  The demonization of folks who disagree with someone or who don't look like that "someone" holds sway in our political discourse for sure, but also in so many other facets of life.  You might recall that more than one Presidential Candidate has cited "Mexicans" pouring over the border or the Congressional Hearings and continuing Texas investigation into Planned Parenthood's selling of baby parts, for example.  Both are simply untrue.  And their are countless other examples.  



One element that's missing today that was strong and influential back in the 1950's, is the Fourth Estate's function of weeding out propaganda from our public discussions, from distinguishing  lies from facts, from calling out those who would play fast and loose with the truth.  Journalists used to be "journalists," that is, folks who actually reported the news rather than pandering to demagoguery and propaganda.  Back then, news was considered vital to the proper functioning of the Republic, not entertainment. 

This is Edward R. Murrow, probably the most respected journalist of his age, speaking out against McCarthy's witch hunt.



While I did not intend to make this post a pro-Hillary piece, it occurs to me that the multiple Benghazi House and Senate Hearings, the endless e-mail controversy, the continued assault on her character, honesty and integrity by the right wing (same guys this time around as back in the1990's) is really not all that different from the onslaught of the 1950's Red Scare Menace championed by McCarthy.  And now that I think about it,  should Bernie Sanders (I-VT) be the Democratic nominee for the Office of the President of the United States, I have a hunch that the attacks on Clinton will fade into non-existence compared to the attacks the right wing will mount against Bernie.  



Joseph N. Welch, a decent, honorable man who spoke out against injustice.  We need more like him today.

NOTE: Actually, my question "Remind You Of Anyone?" has a multitude of answers today in 2016.  Just cast a glance at the 2016 roster of Republican candidates.  

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