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Have You No Sense of Decency

May 2, 2011

“Have you no decency” – In the spring of 1954, McCarthy picked a fight with the U.S. Army, charging lax security at a top-secret army facility. The army responded that the senator had sought preferential treatment for a recently drafted subcommittee aide. Amidst this controversy, McCarthy temporarily stepped down as chairman for the duration of the three-month nationally televised spectacle known to history as the Army-McCarthy hearings. The army hired Boston lawyer Joseph Welch to make its case. At a session on June 9, 1954, McCarthy charged that one of Welch’s attorneys had ties to a Communist organization. As an amazed television audience looked on, Welch responded with the immortal lines that ultimately ended McCarthy’s career: “Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness.” When McCarthy tried to continue his attack, Welch angrily interrupted, “Let us not assassinate this lad further, senator. You have done enough. Have you no sense of decency?” Overnight, McCarthy’s immense national popularity evaporated. Censured by his Senate colleagues, ostracized by his party, and ignored by the press, McCarthy died three years later, 48 years old and a broken man (June 9, 1954 “Have You No Sense of Decency?”).

Edward R MurrowIn a baritone voice packed with passion, the CBS commentator virtually destroyed red-baiting Sen. Joseph McCarthy. During the early years of World War II, Murrow made live radio broadcasts from London as German bombs exploded. His TV news shows, “See It Now” and the lighter, “Person to Person”; his radio essays, “This I Believe”; and his documentaries, including “Harvest of Shame,” about migrant workers helped him earn Peabody awards and a salary of $200,000 to $300,000 a year in the 1950s (Remembering Edward R. Murrow).

See It Now is an American newsmagazine and documentary series broadcast by CBS from 1951 to 1958. It was created by Edward R. Murrow and Fred W. Friendly, Murrow being the host of the show. From 1952 to 1957, See It Now won four Emmy Awards[1][2] and was nominated three times. It also won a 1952 Peabody Award, which cited its simple, lucid, intelligent analysis of top news stories of the week on television … a strikingly effective format for presenting news and the personalities involved in the news with humor, sometimes with indignation, always with careful thought (Wikipedia).

The Final Days The hearings were not the only components that eroded McCarthy’s credibility. Earlier in the year, the journalist Edward R. Murrow had aired a documentary that showed how McCarthy’s charges were groundless and how he had used bullying techniques to harass individuals. By June, the senator’s Gallup Poll ratings fell from 50% to 34%. On December 2, the Senate voted to censure Joe McCarthy by a margin of sixty-seven to twenty-two. Driven by depression from being censured, Joe McCarthy resorted to alcohol, which greatly worsen his health. On May 2, 1957, Joe McCarthy died from acute hepatitis and was buried in Appleton, Michigan (McCarthy’s Downfall).

Speech of Joseph McCarthy “…The great difference between our western Christian world and the atheistic Communist world is not political, gentlemen, it is moral. For instance, the Marxian idea of confiscating the land and factories and running the entire economy as a single enterprise is momentous. Likewise, Lenin’s invention of the one-party police state as a way to make Marx’s idea work is hardly less momentous…” – (Wheeling, West Virginia, February 9, 1950)

Joseph Raymond “Joe” McCarthy (November 14, 1908 – May 2, 1957) was an American politician who served as a Republican U.S. Senator from the state of Wisconsin from 1947 until his death in 1957. Beginning in 1950, McCarthy became the most visible public face of a period in which Cold War tensions fueled fears of widespread Communist subversion.[1] He was noted for making claims that there were large numbers of Communists and Soviet spies and sympathizers inside the United States federal government and elsewhere. Ultimately, McCarthy’s tactics and his inability to substantiate his claims led him to be censured by the United States Senate (Wikipedia).

McCarthyism is the practice of making accusations of disloyalty, subversion, or treason without proper regard for evidence. The term has its origins in the period in the United States known as the Second Red Scare, lasting roughly from the late 1940s to the late 1950s and characterized by heightened fears of communist influence on American institutions and espionage by Soviet agents. Originally coined to criticize the anti-communist pursuits of U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy, “McCarthyism” soon took on a broader meaning, describing the excesses of similar efforts. The term is also now used more generally to describe reckless, unsubstantiated accusations, as well as demagogic attacks on the character or patriotism of political adversaries. Since the time of McCarthy, the word McCarthyism has entered American speech as a general term for a variety of practices: aggressively questioning a person’s patriotism, making poorly supported accusations, using accusations of disloyalty to pressure a person to adhere to conformist politics or to discredit an opponent, subverting civil rights in the name of national security, and the use of demagoguery are all often referred to as McCarthyism. McCarthyism can also be synonymous with the term witch-hunt, both referring to mass hysteria and moral panic(Wikipedia).

“Have You No Sense of Decency”
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