The New McCarthyism?

CalPundit has a very effective attack against the concept of McCarthyism. The grounds he gives are pretty reasonable, and the fact remains that while McCarthy certainly did uncover a number of actual Communist sympathizers, he also ruined careers and made an ass of himself, thereby making it that much more difficult to catch people who were Communist agents. Certainly no one of any ideological stripe would like to see a return to such a system.

What I object to with liberal invokation of McCarthyism is that it’s often so patently false. Often liberals say that any challenge to liberal orthodoxy "reaks of McCarthyism". In essence, it’s become a throwaway slur, like calling someone a "chickenhawk". It’s a way of a denigrating the messenger without ever acknowledging the validity of their argument. When Barbara Streisand says that we’re living in a period of "new McCarthyism" it belies a fundamentally intellectual dishonestly. If that were true, then Mrs. Streisand would likely be sharing a cell in Gitmo with Maureen Dowd (and I do *not* want to go there).

Dissent from the liberal side is not de facto patriotism, nor is dissent from the conservative side not de facto McCarthyism. Dissent is merely a statement against established principles, a statement that can and should be dissected and examinated on all sides. In the end, neither calling someone a Communist nor a McCarthyite makes a great deal of difference unless they’re obviously advocating one of those two positions. The argument is what matters, and that’s where the attention should go.

One thought on “The New McCarthyism?

  1. “McCarthyism” is for the Left what “Appeasement” is for the Right… a black/white shibboleth that ignores the alternatives of reality.

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