MEDIA MATTERS: Glenn Beck has revived one of the most shameful chapters in American political history. Sen. Joseph McCarthy spent years ruining the lives of patriotic Americans serving in the United States government and beyond. He did it through fearmongering and baseless, unproven accusations. He combed the past statements and associations of loyal U.S. citizens and then shamefully accused them of being traitors bent on the destruction of the American way of life. At a time when conservatives are unable to find new leadership or present new ideas to address the challenges facing our nation, it is perhaps fitting that their media leaders and spokespeople — individuals like Glenn Beck — have fallen back on a 60-year-old slander: communist. Beck’s forum consists of his radio program, his nightly show on Fox News, and his books. The witnesses he calls at his hearings form the endless parade of political demagogues he hosts as guests. And one by one, he is targeting the president’s advisers — not based on their current actions or statements, not because of any actual policy initiatives they have proposed since President Obama took office, but rather through the use of guilt-by-association reasoning or because of cherry-picked comments from their past, often provided in a highly misleading context. It’s just the kind of vitriolic irresponsibility that McCarthy specialized in, too. MORE
WIKIPEDIA: McCarthyism is a term describing the intense anti-communist suspicion in the United States in a period that lasted roughly from the late 1940s to the late 1950s. This period is also referred to as the Second Red Scare, and coincided with increased fears about communist influence on American institutions and espionage by Soviet agents. Originally coined to criticize the actions of U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy, “McCarthyism” later took on a more general meaning, not necessarily referring to the conduct of Joseph McCarthy alone.
During this time many thousands of Americans were accused of being Communists or communist sympathizers and became the subject of aggressive investigations and questioning before government or private-industry panels, committees and agencies. The primary targets of such suspicions were government employees, those in the entertainment industry, educators and union activists. Suspicions were often given credence despite inconclusive or questionable evidence, and the level of threat posed by a person’s real or supposed leftist associations or beliefs was often greatly exaggerated. Many people suffered loss of employment, destruction of their careers, and even imprisonment. Most of these punishments came about through trial verdicts later overturned, laws that would be declared unconstitutional, dismissals for reasons later declared illegal or actionable, or extra-legal procedures that would come into general disrepute.
The most famous examples of McCarthyism include the Hollywood blacklist and the investigations and hearings conducted by Joseph McCarthy. It was a widespread social and cultural phenomenon that affected all levels of society and was the source of a great deal of debate and conflict in the United States. MORE