Tag Archives: McCarthyism

A sad tale

The current dispute between Republican candidate for president Donald Trump and the family of a Moslem American soldier killed in combat in Afghanistan is a losing proposition for both sides.
When Khizr and Ghazala Khan decided to appear to tell their story of their son’s sacrifice for his country on the Democratic Convention broadcast, they were making it a political issue. They then cannot claim immunity when Trump attacks them for doing that.
Their excuse, of course, is that Trump’s earlier pronouncements on Moslems, his initial advocacy of banning all Moslem immigrants, had called them into the debate. They argued they had no alternative but to rebut the accusation that Moslem Americans were not loyal citizens. And the fact that they, as well as their son, were born abroad strengthened their argument with Trump.
The discussion has gone downhill ever since. Trump questioned the position of Mrs. Khan who did not speak initially, in effect, hinting it was the traditional repression of women in Islamic societies. Her physical aspect in the initial interview, including wearing a traditionl hijab [partial veil] seemed to confirm Trump’s hint. But she has since responded denying her submission to any restriction but offering the credible argument that any mention of her son made it almost impossible for her to control her emotions.
The whole affair, of course, points up the extreme difficulty of dealing with the problem of Moslems, most of all American Moslem citizens, in the current atmosphere. Any criticism of them is taken in some liberal quarters, including the Clinton presidential campaign, as islamophobia, a blanket prejudiced attack on a religious group.
But the fact remains that in the several instances of terrorism in the U.S. perpetrated by Moslem immigrants, often citizens, the question has hung in the air about how much their family and friends knew about their activities. Blanket denials that anything remotely connected with their terrorist acts was unforeseen seem dubious; can bomb-making and weapons practice take place in a home without the other members of the family knowing it is happening?
We can only guess that the source of much of the information which the FBI tells us has come into their hands and prevented many other attacks likely has come from fellow Moslems. They would be the first to sniff such activity. It is also apparent that what could be construed as sentiment among Moslems for the traditional acts of violence against kafirs [unbelievers or non-Moslems] which traditional Islam justifies is not shared by most American Moslems. But they are also likely to be intimidated if their lives are not actually threatened by the terrorists.
As the terrorists continue to strike out, not only in their base areas in the Middle East, but increasingly in Europe and the U.S. as they are being hammered by American and allied forces, this problem will become even more difficult. An honest discussion of Islam and whatever justification the Islamic terrorists claim derives from its ancient tenets is absolutely necessary.
It requires the kind of intellectual discrimination and honesty which paralleled The Cold War and the long fight to defeat Communism. The Communists claimed a progressives” role as sponsors of solutions to the contemporary world’s many problems, many of them part and parcel of the capitalist system. Often those arguments for reform appeared the same – if originating in quite different logical concepts – as those proposed by American liberals [not to be confused with European “liberals”]. It was always a moot point whether liberal spokesmen were indeed simply expressing similar goals or using subterfuge to cover their real loyalty to Communist goals.
The appellation of “McCarthyism”, the blanket condemnation of opponents as Communists simply because of their difference of opinion, has become a part of our political language. And not so unusually its origin is confused and its meaning misinterpreted. The fact is that many of Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s targets were indeed Communists who concealed their real identify. His excesses arose in no small part precisely because of that fact.
Today terrorism, Islamic terrorisms and Islam present elected officials and their supporters with a similar set of subtleties. But ignoring an open discussion of Islam and its relationship to the Islamic terrorists is not the answer to the problem.

Hollywood’s moral confusion

It is an index to the ideological chaos among America’s fashionable elite, Hollywood annex, that Tinsel Town would come forward with a film defending one of its Communist writers.
It’s become ever more fashionable to justify the betrayal by large numbers of former stars during the period leading up to and after World War II. The rationalizations proliferate: being a Communist was simply indulging in a little progressive activity. Denying that Communist affiliation before the Congress and the public was just a little moral indiscretion. Suggesting, as in the new film about James Dalton Trumbo, his Communist affiliation had only tangential ties to the Soviet Union, is perhaps the greatest lie of all.
With any kind of objective hindsight, we now know that  Soviet espionage during the 1930s and 1940s was an important part of the world struggle leading to World War II. Even more important was the penetration of Communist ideological views of how to create a just society by abandoning rules of righteous behavior. Whatever the excesses of Sen. Joseph McCarthy in short-circuiting civil rights – and they have been vastly exaggerated; no one died of “McCarthyism” nor indeed were many careers shattered permanently – they in no way vitiate the immorality of those who took up the cudgels for Communism.
Nor was it any kind of personal betrayal for that small minority of Hollywood notables who did risk their reputations and their very careers before an onslaught of calumny when they publicly disclosed what and whom they knew as part of the Communist conspiracy. In fact, many, if not most, of the Hollywood little Stalins refused to acknowledge their Communist identities or worse still lied about it. Or, perhaps even worse still, when they garnered millions by masquerading under other names to avoid the Communist label – as Trumbo did — still amassed fortunes.
It’s a laughable concept that none of this had anything to do with the horrors of the Soviet regime and its 20 million victims, the most efficient political repression ever known before it transferred its talents to Communist China. One look at the twists and turns of “the line” – that is support of the Kremlin’s political zigzags in pursuit of Josef Stalin’s domestic and foreign policies — disproves this insinuation that American Communists had little if anything to do with the Kremlin. Communist publications and their loyal readers made the same twists and turns, even when they became ridiculous – for example, accepting Hitler as an ally of Stalin’s in 1939, enabling the outbreak of World War II, but overnight, going from calling the outbreak of war “an imperialist struggle” advocating American isolationism to pushing for enthusiastic entry to “the peoples’ war”.
Trumbo and others, safely ensconced in their lavish lifestyles in the Hollywood Hills, could ignore the atrocities of the Soviet Union – and its openly avowed aim to foist its ghastly regime on the rest of the world. But the murder of hundreds of thousands of rebellious workers and peasants in concentration camps from 1918, the 1921 man-made famine in Russia causing the death of five million people, and then the deaths of another six million Ukrainians during another  man-made famine of 1932 and 1933, the Great Purge from 1937 which killed almost 690,000 people, the deportations of Poles, Ukrainians, Moldavians, Volga Germans and Crimean Tatars from 1939 to 1945, were all ignored or excused by Communists the world over, not excluding U.S. members of the faith such as Trumbo.
We haven’t seen the film, and probably won’t. For in addition to everything else, this phony tale of idealism and suffering is undoubtedly a great bore. Only the excess of loose change in the Hollywood coffers and a demented view of world politics suggest why it would be made at all.

Does the U.S. have “a Muslim problem”?

For those who lived through the World War II prelude and the Cold War, the current American dilemma dealing with Islam is all too familiar. To the extent historical analogies are valid, countering Islamic radical infiltration resembles nothing so much as a century of struggle against Communism before the Soviet Union, as Lenin would have said, was consigned to history’s dustbin.

In the bitter climate of The Great Depression – for younger readers, do go to that marvelous reportage of John Steinbeck – reform was not only fashionable but critical. The movers and shakers were a strange lot, drawn from all parts of American society and all ideologies. An example was blossoming of the 30s trade union movement, as a veteran labor leader once told me, I think correctly, advanced by three factors: government [the New Deal’s Wagner Act], socialists and Communists [“community organizers” of those days].

As the years go by, us old reprobates are handed more and more proof of the incredible penetration of Moscow espionage. James Jesus Angleton, the intelligence community’s old Cold Warrior stalwart, may have been paranoid but, as the saying goes, that doesn’t mean he wasn’t persecuted. But, perhaps more importantly, the Cambridge University scandals dramatize as no other single episode widespread subversion of Western thought as well as institutions by Stalinists flying under two false flags of reform and anti-fascism.

Why is any of this relevant dealing with today’s Islamicist threat?

Muslim “moderates” and their apologists present Islam as another Abrahamic religion not all that different from Christianity or Judaism. [Do not the latters’ holy books, too, drip with blood and hatred?] The answer, not so simple but enough for this brief apologia: Islam never had its Renaissance, its Reformation, its Counter-Reformation, its haskala, its Enlightenment, its scientific revolution.

Meanwhile, by accident of history and geology, the industrial West has transferred vast resources to primitive Persian Gulf tribal societies. Just oil revenues alone of half a trillion dollars annually finances fanaticism – bereft of its civilizing Persian [Zoroastrian] and Indian [Hindu, Buddhist] agglomerations – to spread hatred with a “we-they” syndrome so virulent no Western psychiatrist could have imagined it. In effect, the West nurtures subversion of our civilization – as so often it helped the Soviets through Russian Communism’s many death defying crises.

Our problem, then, is not so simple as distinguishing between Islam as religion and a political creed. It would be no easier than earlier on sorting out Communist motivation from true “reformism” — or often simple naiveté. Distinguishing between Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s spot-on denunciations of Communist infiltration at the time was difficult when “McCarthyism”, the accusation of slander, was flung about, often, by partisans of Communists appearing before his inquisition that refused to identify their true beliefs and exploited his excesses.

That comes to mind now with charges from Muslim organizations, including unindicted co-conspirators aiding terrorists, who scream “Islamaphobia” when any attempt is made to ferret the real intent of those seeking to subvert US institutions. For those Muslims who take their cue from parts of the sunnah/hadith – sayings and activities of the prophet Mohammed – dissimulation is permitted when dealing with non-believers, even “People of the Book” [Christians and Jews]. It was so with Communists using Marxist “ethics” even against their “social fascist” [social democrat], sometime partners.

That’s why U.S. and state governments are in difficulty sorting out Islamicist tendencies. Much the same miasma as during the long fight against Communism, its state power and its influence as an ideology dogs the current scene. Prisons and the military have succumbed to fanatics posing as chaplains. Our most prestigious universities accept benefice from the Gulf states in exchange for defending their authoritarianism and obscurantism. Mosques and madrass [religious schools] are often financed and encadred by radical preachers sabotaging our values. Our crusaders [pun intended] for freedom of the internet inadvertently permit terrorist digital recruiting. To a degree, Ron Paul is right suggesting we have reaped a whirlwind we sowed – alas! but with petrodollars and technology transfer rather than the geopolitical offenses he and others pretend.

This has all, of course, been compounded by a President who — for example in his Cairo speech written and poorly researched by a very young man without knowledge of the 1400 years of Islam and eons of Mideast history – serves up misplaced sentiment, logic and politics to further befuddle an already critical issue.