The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

Newest Extreme Right Demand: Bring Back McCarthyism

By Leah Nelson on December 14, 2010 - 8:39 am, Posted in Extremist Propaganda

Between 1950 and 1954, Wisconsin Sen. Joseph McCarthy led one of the most notorious political witch-hunts in U.S. history. Aided by the parallel activities of the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC), McCarthy’s anti-communist crusade divided politicians, captivated the media, and fanned the flames of anti-Soviet zeal in early Cold War America.

By 1954, when the Senate censured him for his “inexcusable” and “reprehensible” behavior, McCarthy’s name had become synonymous with demagoguery. HUAC’s star waned soon after, and the committee was dissolved in 1975. Paranoid anti-communist organizations like the John Birch Society maintained their vigilance against the (increasingly imaginary) communist threat, but most everyone else moved on.

Until now.

“This WikiLeaks disaster is proof that we are deeply infiltrated by communists just like Senator McCarthy warned us about. … It would not shock me if [Wikileaks founder] Julian Assange SECRETLY seeks asylum in Moscow to avoid an Interpol arrest,” wrote Steve Cooper, who on Dec. 1 became one of the first of many on the far right to fulminate about the alleged Wikileaks-Communist connection. “McCarthyism is the only thing that will save us.” Assange was arrested in England Dec. 7 on a Swedish warrant in connection with a sex crimes investigation. He was denied bail and remains in custody.

Cooper, a prolific blogger and Internet radio personality who writes and broadcasts at, has been working towards a full-blown exhumation of McCarthy’s legacy for some time. During a June 2009 Internet broadcast on the topic, “Did the Soviet Union stage their collapse to lower our guard?” he declared that “global tentacles of Marxism are slowly strangling this world, and people are clueless.”

The day after WikiLeaks announced its most recent document dump, Cooper bought a new domain name to link to The Conservative Monster. Its name:

Cooper used a Nov. 29 essay headlined “Senator McCarthy’s Ghost is Watching: Communist Infiltration Behind the WikiLeaks Dump?” to take a swipe at President Obama, his wife and former Weather Underground member William Ayers, whom right-wing extremists have tried to tie to Obama despite their only cursory association.

“Senator McCarthy tried to warn us, but America spit in his face. Senator McCarthy was a U.S. Marine Officer and a patriot, unlike Barry, Michelle and William Ayers,” he wrote. “These leaks are right up Ayers [sic] alley. … The communists need to be flushed out of this government like the roaches they are before they bring the entire country down, because this is their ultimate goal.”

(Ironically, McCarthy was charged with encouraging government employees to steal classified documents and turn them over to him, as well as misusing FBI documents containing top-secret national security information.)

Cooper isn’t the only far-right mouthpiece calling for a McCarthy revival.

“We are faced with the problem of U.S.-based Marxists supporting our foreign enemies. These are dangerous times for America. The Congress must re-establish a House Internal Security Committee,” opined far-right columnist Cliff Kincaid on Wednesday. (The House Committee on Un-American Activities was renamed the House Internal Security Committee in 1969 in hopes that its gravitas could be salvaged after “Yippies” Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin made a mockery of HUAC hearings in 1967 and 1968.)

Right-wing attack dog and author Ann Coulter, when she’s not busy talking up hate groups, has been spreading the love for “Tail-gunner Joe” for years. “The myth of ‘McCarthyism’ is the greatest Orwellian fraud of our times. … Everything you think you know about McCarthy is a hegemonic lie,” she wrote in 2003’s Treason: Liberal Treachery from the Cold War to the War on Terror. She even suggests that McCarthy is the only reason there are virtually no American communists. “Sneering at McCarthy today because the only people who call themselves Communists are harmless cranks is like sneering at the Sabin vaccine because, really, almost no one gets polio anymore.”

Then there’s Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), better known to the far right for his longstanding and baseless claim that undocumented immigrants murder enormous numbers of Americans every day and similar attacks. In an interview with RightSideNews last Monday, King said he agreed with Kincaid’s call for a resurrected HUAC-type committee. “I am often quoted as saying McCarthy was a hero for America. He was. He was right far more times than he was wrong. It is a historical fact.”

America’s favorite self-proclaimed historian of the hour has also weighed in — repeatedly. “It was Republican Senator Joe McCarthy who shined the spotlight on the Communist Party again,” Glenn Beck, the Fox News host and conspiracy theorist, told his viewers in March. “McCarthy was absolutely right. He may have used bad tactics or whatever, but he was absolutely right,” he added in June.

Three weeks later, Beck invited M. Stanton Evans, author of 2007’s Blacklisted by History: The Untold Story of Senator Joe McCarthy and His Fight Against America’s Enemies, to join him on his radio show, “The Glenn Beck Program.”

“[McCarthy] was right in general. There was a massive penetration of the government and … it was covered up and … he threatened that cover-up. And that is why he was isolated, demonized and destroyed,” Evans told a wide-eyed Beck. “I have something I call ‘Evans Law of Inadequate Paranoia,’ which says no matter how bad you think something is, when you look into it, it’s always worse.”

Beck ate it up. “Please, please get this book,” Beck implored his viewers. “Know the truth. The truth shall set you free.”

Turning back to Evans, he gibbered, “It is — it’s frightening. It’s frightening. But it’s the truth and here is why you need to know history, because it’s repeating itself.”

Beck was still bowled over by Evans the morning after he interviewed the author. “Blacklisted by History. Read it,” he begged his radio audience. “I know how I’m going to end up in history. I know I’m going to be a Joseph McCarthy or somebody like that, if I even make it in history. If I do, I will be smeared and discarded.”

History should be so lucky.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Actually he hasn’t, Jack.

  • Jack S.

    McCarthy has been vindicated by history and the leftist idiots are still using the same arguments.


  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Trotskyists were not prosecuted at Stalin’s behest- on the contrary, from Mexico city Trotsky himself provided the FBI with information on “Stalinist” agents.

    That being said, when we speak of security risks- let’s remember that it wasn’t Communists who funded religious fanatics in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, nor were the Communists responsible for America’s financial meltdown.

  • DennisJ

    HUAC did actually expose some legitimate security concerns in the late 1940s, but McCarthy and some even loonier types like Senator Jenner derailed it with their excesses. It became a case of the Senators who cried wolf.

    I must mention that, while Senator McCarthy was no paragon of civil liberties, A. Mitchell Palmer makes him look like a schoolboy. So, incidentally, does the prosecution of Trotskyists, presumably at Stalin’s behest, during the FDR administration. It didn’t start (or end) with Joe McCarthy.

  • legalhound

    Ok now we can all finally see the reason that I absolutely believe that there needs to be an intelligence test to do 2 things. 1 work int he media and 2. run for public office. If someone is as stupid as Beck, Coulter, Palin and that ilk I’m sorry, but we just cannot allow them to have the tools that could change the country-because they’d screw it up!
    These crackpots used to be a little humorous, but now they’re just getting dangerous. Where are the men in the white coats? We need them to come take them away – they’ve been off their meds too long and are now a danger to themselves and others.

  • Lex

    THe soviet union “faking” its collapse makes as much sense as calming that Nazi Germany faked its collapsed, this has got the one of the dumbest and craziest conspiracy theories ive ever heard.

  • JNagarya

    McCarthy was a demogogue who was only in it for the attention and power. He had no principles as concerned truth, let alone “Commie”-ists. When he stood in the Senate, holding up a piece of paper, and said it was a list of “Commie”-ists, the paper was B-L-A-N-K. There was not a single name on it.

    Thus it doesn’t surprise that the far-right, the first casualty of which is truth, would glorify that self-serving ball of BS and pseudo-outrage.

    Yes — they want McCarthyite witch hunts — which would begin with the insufficiently white, then proceed to the less insufficiently white, until ultimately it would focus upon Jews. Thier excuse for hating Jews includes the fact that Marx was a Jew. It’s ironic that McCarthy was, as are those who glorify him, a thug, whereas Marx was well-intentioned, even if wrong.

    And what is Murdoch, and what Roger Ailes, in view of their giving a megaphone platform to these anti-American thugs?

  • Dave P

    Correction to my above post I meant to say “were not right wing nut cases” instead of “right wing nutcases”

  • Dave P

    The notion that McCarthy’s anti communist paranoia made it harder for actual Soviet/East German agents to operate in America is laughable. The climate of considering every moderate to liberal thinking person as a communist agent in league with a foreign government would allow a foreign agent in deep cover to be more effective since the targets of McCarthyism were Americans who were right wing nut cases and not real foreign agents.

    To glorify this fanatic is a sad testament for the political shape of American. The Becks won’t be satisfied until the U.S. is a fascist theocracy.

  • Deb

    These jokers make me sick. They don’t realize that the rest of the world is laughing their asses off at us because of people like Beck, Limbaugh and the rest. There were some bad communist and socialist governments for sure. But that’s not to say that Communism or Socialism are at their core bad ways to govern. Beck and the rest of the wackos on the right constantly call the President a socialist but the GOP is single handedly turning our country into a facist state. I guess as long as it’s the GOP that is dragging the country down into facism, it’s okay. But the President being a socialist is bad. What a bunch of greasy toe rags.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Of course I am partial to the KGB and Stasi, but when you accuse people who have nothing to do with Communism of being Communists, it actually makes it harder to sniff out the real agents. Do not forget that McCarthy was the darling of a group of people who believed that Eisenhower was a Communist, that China was “allowed” to go to the Communists(good thing that happened huh?), and that the Korean war was lost on purpose. That kind of conspiracism no doubt distracts attention from real investigations.

    Not to mention the fact that beginning in that time, many “leftist” artists, liberals, and academics were actually on the payroll of the CIA anyway.

  • KuffarFalcon

    “McCarthy’s anti-communist crusade divided politicians, captivated the media, and fanned the flames of anti-Soviet zeal in early Cold War America.”

    And made it harder for KGB and Stasi agents to conduct their espionage and sabotage work in U.S, I bet.

  • Mitch Beales

    One thing the right is right about is that McCarthy was right – extremely far right. The fact that anyone praises him now just shows how much danger we are in from the right. If we listen to these extremists we’ll be burning Muslims at the stake.

  • Difluoroethane

    REM had a song called “Exhuming McCarthy”, about this very topic.