Paul  Weyrich

I digress. When the Soviet Union was disintegrating, President Boris Yeltsin appointed a free-market economist, Igor Gaidar, as his Premier. At that time I was a virtual commuter to Moscow so on one of those trips my close friend Arkady Murashev arranged for me to meet with Gaidar. I was confused. I had been not just in Moscow and Leningrad, now Saint Petersburg, but all over the Soviet Empire. In the American media I kept on reading about how the Russian people were starving, that ordinary household items were beyond their reach and that the streets were filled with beggars trying to sell a family heirloom for an American dollar. I saw none of this and, mind you, I was covering some of the backwater streets as I was photographing Moscow's tramway system. So I asked Gaidar why it was that he thought free-market efforts in the Soviet Union were being trashed by American media when the reality was far different from what I was seeing.

He replied with a stinging answer, one I never will forget. He said, "Well, the Soviets spent millions of dollars infiltrating your media. Just because the Soviet Union went away doesn't mean these people have gone away. They are still there." Of course, I knew this. And yet I really never thought about it. In those days we had the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) and the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee. How liberal Members of Congress and the left-wing media hated these committees. When they saw their opportunity, following the huge Republican defeat of 1964, they managed to get rid of both of them. The Senate Subcommittee hung around a bit longer than HUAC, but it was a toothless tiger at the end.

From what Gaidar told me, we needed to have revived these committees with a focus not so much on Hollywood but on the media itself. We know that one New York Times reporter, who always portrayed Stalin as Good Old Uncle Joe, was in fact a Communist and operated for decades on the Times staff. Were there any more? How about the Washington Post?

But now I am not as concerned with the Communists as I am with the Islamofascists. Yes, the Communists are still around in a few countries, especially China, which seems to want to pick a fight with the USA. And there appear to be many of them in tenured positions on American college campuses. Put that aside, we need a revival of internal security committees in both the House and the Senate. They need to look out for those sympathetic to Radical Islam. Yes, the FBI is doing some of this, but it has more than it can handle right now. Why not reconstitute these two committees and let them work hand in glove with the FBI. That is what happened before 1965. J. Edgar Hoover would often suggest good targets to be investigated.

If the Soviets were a threat, and they were, then Radical Islam is the far greater threat. Why? Because the Soviets were a conservative power. They did not do things without understanding the consequences. The Islamists are not conservative. Anything but.

Of course any Senator or Congressman who had the courage to suggest reviving the two internal security committees solely to investigate Islamofascists or equivalents would be ridiculed and mercilessly attacked. Let us hope a couple of the Members would have courage enough to do so.

Paul Weyrich

Paul M. Weyrich is the late Chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Research and Education Foundation.
TOWNHALL DAILY: Be the first to read Paul Weyrich's column. Sign up today and receive daily lineup delivered each morning to your inbox.