Monday, October 31, 2005
Actor/director/producer George Clooney is opening a movie called Good Night, And Good Luck that captures the Edward R. Murrow / Senator McCarthy “experience”. We all know Joe McCarthy and his warnings of a communist around every corner and in so many organizations. He was quite successful in creating an atmosphere of fear for a number of years. The fear that he created generated power for Joe, the Senator from Wisconsin.
Those he targeted
became the subject of aggressive witch-hunts, often based on inconclusive or questionable evidence. People from the media, the motion picture industry, politics, and the military often became the targets of McCarthyism. The term has since become synonymous with any government activity which seeks to suppress unfavorable political or social views, often by limiting or suspending civil rights under the pretext of maintaining national security.I think Murrow’s comments from those days ring true even today:
"We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason if we dig deep in our history and doctrine and remember that we are not descended from fearful men, not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate and to defend causes which were for the moment unpopular. We can deny our heritage and our history, but we cannot escape responsibility for the result. There is no way for a citizen of the Republic to abdicate his responsibility."From the movie website we have a brief synopsis of Murrow’s impact:
“He manages to highlight the serious issues involved in the McCarthy hearings: namely, the line between investigation and 'persecution'; that dissent is not disloyalty; accusation is not proof; conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law; and finally, as defenders of freedom abroad, the US cannot desert it at home.”Today we have so many who are falling into McCarthy-isms. Just turn to talk radio and hear the rants about the communists in the ACLU, on campuses, in the halls of Russia’s government. But today McCarthyisms have a new slant. We have a new “scare” to go along with the Red Scare. We no have the “terror scare”. McCarthy was so quick to “find” a communist around every corner. Today some find it very convenient to find a “terrorist” or “terror plot” around every corner. Why?
Fear is a powerful weapon. It makes a citizen feel the need to call for a strong leader, a strong police force/military, a strong law and order rule. Fear after 9/11 brought about some of our worst nightmares: the Patriot Act, the war in Iraq, a government using lies and deception for its own goals. As Murrow pointed out, fear drives us into “an age of unreason”.
We have a new “McCarthy”. But today he is not just one Senator. Today he/she sits in so many offices of our government including the Oval Office. Today he/she dominates the airwaves. So be prepared for the witch hunts and accusations as we protest this war, as we question the role of our government, as we question the Patriot Act, as we demand answers. Be prepared to be labeled as sympathizers. Be prepared.
But remember we also have a new “Murrow”. Today’s Murrow is the alternative press correspondent. Today’s Murrow is the blogger writing about the lies/deception/conspiracies. Today’s Murrow’s are ordinary citizens who look very carefully at terror warnings and “fear causing” statements.
As we look back to the 1950’s let us remember that McCarthy was successful because of fear. But when the light of truth was shined on him…. Today is no different. The truth is there for all to see and hear. Today’s “McCarthy’s” will also fail. We mus make a pact that “We will not walk in fear, one of another.”