Friday, September 01, 2006

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?

6 Comments:

Blogger Mortart said...

Amen!
And my friend Stan thanks you for the comment on his "ode" published in my blog.

1:32 PM  
Anonymous colleen said...

When talk of "staying the course" or "cutting and running" come up, I can't even contribute because I'm still stuck on "Why did we invade in the first place?" and "Who will be held accountable?"

I see that the rhetoric is being turned up again, but your post gives me a little hope that rhetoric is like a house of cards that eventually has to fall.

Your life still seems exciting to me, especially for a woman in the 1950's.

2:45 PM  
Anonymous Terri said...

Great post. Yes, it sounds way too close to home for my liking. I'd blogged about this very subject a month or so ago, in relation to Betty Garrett's book. (Naomi's friend)
Once again...it's a disturbing time in our country.
Here's hoping that this November will turn the tables in a positive way!

5:21 AM  
Blogger Betty said...

It is especially disturbing to see our President and his minions throwing the word "fascism" around so freely, trying to make it stick to the Democrats. There is nothing they won't say or do, in order to keep their party in office, is there?

11:12 AM  
Blogger saz said...

Seems as if the current administration is studying the "McCarthy Era" playbook.

11:15 AM  
Blogger Maya's Granny said...

I was only 12 when McCarthy was happening, but because my tenth great-grandmother had died in jail waiting to be tried for witchcraft in Salem, my parents made a point of explaining to me that this was what had happened to Sarah Osborne.

I hate seeing it happen in our country yet again, but it certainly is.

1:15 AM  

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