Diana West

After World War II, Red-hunters in Congress did their best to expose this communist menace -- a menace that we now know, following declassification of some FBI and intelligence files in Washington and Moscow, was much worse than we thought. Thanks to Joe McCarthy, many Americans whom the left angelicized as "free thinkers" or "liberals" were finally unmasked as hardened Soviet agents. These would include, to take 10 examples from M. Stanton Evans' masterpiece, "Blacklisted by History: The Untold Story of Senator Joe McCarthy and His Fight Against America's Enemies," Solomon Adler, Cedric Belfrage, T.A. Bisson, V. Frank Coe, Lauchlin Currie, Harold Glasser, David Karr, Mary Jane Keeney, Leonard Mins and Franz Neumann.

As for "Have you no sense of decency, sir?" This tiresome catchphrase may quiver with righteousness on history's eternal wavelength, but it is probably the biggest crock of all. As Evans writes, Army counsel Joseph Welch famously hurled the question as an accusation at McCarthy. McCarthy's transgression, we are supposed to believe, was outing Welch's young legal associate, Frederick G. Fisher Jr., as a former member of the National Lawyers Guild, a notorious communist front group.

The truth is quite different. Six weeks earlier, Welch himself was quoted in The New York Times, confirming that Fisher had belonged to the communist front and that, as a result, Welch himself had "relieved (Fisher) from duty." Welch's hearing-room histrionics, in other words, were a lot of hot air. But they worked. To this day, the truth remains lost to most people, while this thinnest fiction is immortal.

Many other charges against McCarthy similarly disintegrate on examination. The problem is, there is far too little examination. Even this week, when the National Review took up editorial arms to defend Ted Cruz from croaky cries of "McCarthyism" coming from Democrats in Congress and cable TV hosts, the editorial explained how it was that Cruz had not engaged in the "M-word." It further declared Cruz "has not, as Senator McCarthy was reputed to have done, slandered an honorable man by cavalierly associating him with an odious and politically radioactive 'ism.'"

"Reputed" by whom, and according to what facts? Failing to unmask the McCarthyism libel for what it is and always was -- bunk and agitprop designed to demonize conservatives, from Joe then to Ted today -- does exactly what conservatives continue to take pains to disavow. It slanders a patriot -- Joe McCarthy -- by cavalierly associating him with an odious and politically radioactive "ism."

It's time to thank the man instead.


Diana West

Diana West is the author of American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation's Character (St. Martin's Press, 2013), and The Death of the Grown-Up: How America's Arrested Development Is Bringing Down Western Civilization (St. Martin's Press, 2007).