1954 Joseph McCarthy on TV….the Communism scare
In 1953 I transferred from Upsala College in New Jersey to Boston University to pursue a degree in Journalism and Communications. I lived at home during this time and commuted to school by train.
That was a very special time for me. All my siblings (4 older sisters) had left the nest and I had come back to roost for a bit. We lived in a large 13 room, Victorian house and my parents gave me the third floor to make over into an apartment…my very own private quarters.
I used to hibernate in my special place and read or write to my heart’s content. But I also reveled in the fact that I could have my Mother and Dad’s undivided attention and we spent many hours discussing all sorts of things...not least of them being the politics of the day. It was the time of Senator Joseph McCarthy and his intense anti-Communism tactics.
My folks and I would listen in dismay to his free-wheeling accusations and we couldn’t believe that he was given so much latitude. People at every level of society were being persecuted by him and his cronies.
In the Spring of 1954 the Army-McCarthy hearings were televised from the Senate Caucus Room. It was the first time that anything of this sort had been brought before the public and I would rush home from school every day to listen to and watch the proceedings. It was a ridiculous trial concerning G. David Schine, a consultant on McCarthy’s staff, who was drafted into the army. Roy Cohn, Chief Counsel for McCarthy, claimed that the army was holding Schine “hostage” to deter the committee from exposing communists within the military ranks.
The 36 days of televised hearings were ludicrous and just one of the many ways that Joseph McCarthy played havoc with the lives of so many innocent people. I remember that time very clearly and how relieved I was when it seemed to come to an end.
It is with dismay that I see some of those same scare tactics being used today. “McCarthyism” is defined as “the practice of publicizing accusations of political disloyalty or subversion with insufficient regard to evidence”.
Sounds a little close to home, doesn’t it?