The Return of the Witch-Hunters
An old pattern reasserts itself
(AntiWar.com) -- by Justin Raimondo --
During the cold war era, an entire cottage industry grew up around the alleged threat of the "international Communist conspiracy," one that proved lucrative for those entrepreneurs who took advantage of it as well as politicians who profited politically from it. Numerous right-wing groups sprang up whose only apparent function was to catalogue and "expose" manifestations of the Commie Menace operating in our midst. From anti-Semite Elizabeth Dilling‘s "Patriotic Research Bureau," which issued the classic Red Network in 1935, and on to Red Channels in the 1950s, to any number of amateur sleuths and mini-J. Edgar Hoovers whose job, as they saw it, was to keep tabs on attempts to "radicalize" unsuspecting Americans and otherwise subvert US national security.
It needs to be said, before I get into the history of these efforts, that "McCarthyism" – as it is now known, after the most infamous of its practitioners – was preceded by a left-wing effort to demonize – and prosecute – elements of the political right, and if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then no one can doubt the sincerity of Tail-Gunner Joe and his epigones. In the run-up to World War II, and afterwards, the political left in this country launched a crusade to link conservative opponents of US entry into the war with Hitler and Nazi Germany. The best-selling book Under Cover, by pro-Communist John Roy Carlon, a.k.a. Avedis Derounian, was a crude and highly effective smear against the anti-interventionist movement, using every trick in the book to tie in antiwar activists affiliated with the conservative America First Committee with the German American Bund and other pro-Nazi groups. Congressional hearings were an important prop in this pro-war, anti-conservative campaign: indeed, the first manifestation of the notorious House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), which became famous for its efforts purporting to expose Communist activities in the US, was the "Special Committee on Un-American Activities Authorized to Investigate Nazi Propaganda and Certain Other Propaganda Activities," chaired by the left-wing Rep. Samuel Dickstein (D-Florida). Dickstein took his show on the road, traveling to cities across the United States where testimony was heard implicating prominent conservatives in a number of fantastic plots, including the "Business Plot" – a purported scheme by big business to instigate a military coup against Franklin Delano Roosevelt. These activities culminated, in 1940, in the trial of 30 right-wingers for plotting to overthrow the government of the United States in tandem with Nazi Germany, the so-called Sedition Trial, which ended in a fiasco.
The conservatives, licking their wounds, waited for their moment, and it finally came at the beginning of the 1950s, with the dawn of the cold war. Dickstein’s Special Committee morphed into HUAC, which took out after the left with a vengeance. Investigations into the alleged Communist influence in Hollywood, in publishing, in virtually every aspect of American life were launched, with "experts" such as ex-Communist Benjamin Gitlow and others, the featured speakers at these propaganda-fests. J. Edgard Hoover’s FBI, acting in concert with HUAC and "private" anti-Communist groups, such as Red Channels, engaged in a massive witch-hunt, in which anyone who questioned the cold war or challenged political orthodoxy was smeared as a "red."...
The first years of the post-cold war era were not promising, and they were indeed lean years for the witch-hunters. There was no enemy, no Satan-with-a-sword, with enough stature or menace to constitute a credible threat – and, therefore, no internal "fifth column" to vilify, hunt down, and prosecute. What’s a witch-hunter to do?
The 9/11 terrorist attacks solved that problem for them quite neatly. The new Enemy: Muslims. The Fifth Column: the many Muslim organizations, and the several thousand mosques in the US, along with the entire Muslim-American population. The witch-hunt was back on, and there was more money in it than ever.
An entire "homeland security" industry grew like kudzu, fed and carefully nurtured with lucrative government contracts and the post-9/11 hysteria that gripped the nation and validated a veritable flood of federal dollars poured into projects with little or no congressional oversight. That industry is still growing by leaps and bounds, perhaps the only sector of the economy which is experiencing a boom at this point.
Most of these corporate entities are involved with the development of various hi-tech snooping devices, "cyber-warfare," and recruiting mercenaries, but a vital and growing subset are the propaganda outfits. These often assume an air of semi-objectivity, like Steven Emerson’s "The Investigative Project on Terrorism," whose very name combines the imagery of both journalism and law enforcement.
Others are openly ideological, like the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, whose founder and director, Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, was Rep. Steve King’s star witness at the anti-Muslim show hearings which opened on Thursday. In his testimony, Dr. Jasser singled out his rivals among the various Muslim groups as little more than a jihadist fifth column...MORE...LINK
Chris Moore comments:
Were those who aggresively set out against the Communist menace during the Cold War entirely "witch hunters" and "anti-Semites"?
Raimondo himself in the past has (correctly) conflated the (mostly Jewish) Israel lobby with the (largely Jewish) “Red fifth column” (Rep. Samuel Dickstein, cited above, being merely one example).
In a column for The American Conservative, Raimondo wrote:
"How little things change. This is precisely what Larry Franklin, the Pentagon’s top Iran analyst, said in his own defense when he was caught turning over vital secrets to Israeli officials via AIPAC employees Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman. Far from considering himself a traitor, he fancied himself a patriot for trying to advance the special relationship between the two countries. Convinced that American policymakers weren’t responding to the alleged threat from Iran decisively enough, he took it upon himself to supply the Israelis with closely held intelligence about al-Qaeda and U.S. troop movements in Iraq because he considered American and Israeli interests to be the same.So the Red fifth column was real. And given the fact that the Communists would murder some 100 million people over the course of their reign of terror, and had started their mass murdering right off the bat in Bolshevik Russia, this was serious business, just as it should be serious business to ferret out the Zionists who themselves are agitating for yet MORE mass murder in the Middle East.
"This also describes the mindset of Rosen and Weissman, who had the charges against them dropped after years of legal delaying tactics and an orchestrated campaign by the Israel lobby. Of course, the accusation of McCarthyism was pinned on the Justice Department for daring to indict them along with Franklin, and yet, as we can see in the pages of Spies, “Tail-Gunner Joe” was right. The U.S. government, during the war years particularly, was inundated with Communists who were turning over our secrets to the Soviets as fast as they could glean them."
“The sheer scope of Soviet covert operations in the U.S. and their undoubted success is chronicled in painstaking detail by Haynes and Klehr. From the collection of scientific and technical data—including the making of the nuclear bomb—to vital political and inside information about the internal deliberations of the U.S. government on matters of interest to Moscow, the Red fifth column infiltrated.”
"The Soviets further succeeded in placing a number of agents as congressional staff members, and in Rep. Sam Dickstein (D-N.Y.), who according to Allen Weinstein’s The Haunted Wood was paid $1,250 a month by the Soviets, they had an actual member of Congress. It was Dickstein who lorded it over the House’s Special Committee on Un-American Activities, the precursor to HUAC, and embarked on a witchhunt against any organization or individual who dared speak out against U.S. intervention abroad, labeling them Nazis, fascists, and saboteurs. Long before McCarthy, there was Dickstein, who “exaggerated the extremist threat far beyond its small size, claiming that the German American Bund had two hundred thousand armed men who were ready to don their brown uniforms and overthrow the government.” He coerced and abused witnesses dragged before his inquisition and “lectured them about their moral shortcomings.”
"Dickstein wasn’t just a traitor and a Communist: he was also a crook. Indeed, “Crook” was the KGB’s cover name for him. In the winter of 1936, the New York congressman approached Soviet Ambassador Alexandr Troyanovsky with the bright idea of paying him as much as $6,000 for the Un-American Committee’s files on White Russian exiles in the United States. At a series of meetings detailed in the KGB archives, Dickstein dickered until he got the Soviets to agree to a fee that, in 2008 dollars, amounted to more than $200,000 annually. In return, he promised to launch an investigation into White Russians, Trotskyists, and other opponents of the Soviet regime. When Walter Krivitsky, a KGB official, defected to the West and denounced Stalin, Dickstein interceded, unsuccessfully, with the immigration authorities to deny him a visa extension. Dickstein was eager to make himself useful. His Soviet handlers, however, were less than satisfied with his efforts and several times cut off his stipend. He resigned from Congress in 1945 to become a judge of the New York Supreme Court. He died in 1956, with no one the wiser as to his KGB affiliation."
Libertarians need to drop this disingenuous line about the Cold War being entirely hysteria and profiteering. The fact that it turned into that due to opportunistic elements doesn’t invalidate its righteous origins.
In fact, we need to follow the best element of the Cold War precedent, which was containment. We need to contain Zionism, and perhaps elements of Islamism as well.
B [in article comments]: “While the naziizm/fascism (or even the segregated democracy of the pre-Civil Right Act-type) was directed IN ITS ESSENCE against the people of ethnicities/races that did not fit in the sick minds of the believers in the monstrous concept of the "superior race". And that difference between Communism and various fascisms/racisms must not be forgotten.”
Actually, the Communists also targeted groups for their nationalities and their Christian faith and ethnic-Christian identities (See the Ukrainian Holodomor, for example).
The fact that the Red fascists couched their own genocidal essence in humanitarian and sophist terms like “social justice” and “historical progress” and “scientific socialism” in no way changes their genocidal character, any more than the neocons-neolibs couching their own Zionist fascism in terms and propaganda like “democracy,” “liberalism,” and advancing "women’s rights" and "Jewish rights" changes theirs.