Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty, or your recklessness. …. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency? — Army Counsel Joseph Welch addressing Senator McCarthy, 1954
I would consider it an honor if you would revoke my security clearance as well, so I can add my name to the list of men and women who have spoken up against your presidency.–William McRaven
McCarthyism, making unfair allegations to stifle dissent, is associated with the “red scare” of the 1950s and political “witch hunts.” McCarthy’s attempt to root suspected communists out of their jobs in and out of government injured many, Constitutional rights to think and speak freely were trampled. Congressional hearings gave a bad name to the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution, promoting the idea that refusing to testify against one’s self indicated guilt, an idea more recently echoed by President Trump.
The televised hearings in 1954 gave many Americans a view of McCarthy in action, a view that left an unfavorable impression of him and his activities. Joseph Welch’s famous criticism marked the beginning of the end of McCarthy but not McCarthyism, which isn’t dead.
McCarthy’s attack on the Army, popular with Americans, made him look unpatriotic. Could Trump’s attack on American Intelligence Agencies and officers also be fatal? Is Wm. McRaven’s statement, echoed by other prominent persons, the beginning of his end?