McCarthyism Revisited

Photo by United States Senate | CC BY 2.0

Founding Father James Madison warned 230 years ago that “no nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.”  In his farewell address nearly 60 years ago, President Dwight D. Eisenhower echoed this warning regarding the impact of permanent war and a “permanent arms industry” on our rights and liberties.  Thus, it is no surprise that the past 17 years of warfare have been accompanied by a series of lost liberties; a revival of McCarthyism; and a belief in conspiracy theory that has afflicted the left wing (“Deep State”) as well as the right (“Drain the Swamp”).

Senator Joseph McCarthy’s vociferous campaign against alleged communists in the U.S. government and other institutions led to the term “McCarthyism” to describe any campaign or practice that endorses the use of unfair allegations and investigations.  During the past decade, we have experienced the Bush administration that deputized the Pentagon to spy on law-abiding citizens and expanded the scope of the National Security Agency’s warrantless eavesdropping against American citizens; the Obama administration that used the Espionage Act of 1917 against whistleblowers and created an informant network among millions of federal employees to watch for “high-risk persons or behaviors” among co-workers; and the Trump administration that recently seized the phone and email records from a reporter for the New York Times, and has…

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