On This Day in 1954: Senator Joseph McCarthy Began a Witch-Hunt of The U. S. Army




The Secretary of the United States Army ordered two generals, who had been subpoenaed by the crusading anti-Communist Senator Joseph McCarthy, to ignore the summons. The move by Robert T. Stevens came on the first day of the hearings into communist activity in the U. S. Army. Mr. Stevens said he would speak on behalf of the Army, provided that the session was held in public.

His announcement came after a former army major, who had been summoned by Senator McCarthy, head of the Senate’s Permanent Investigations sub-committee, refused to answer questions. Senator McCarthy responded, “Either the Army will give the names of men coddling Communists or we will take it before the Senate.”

However, Mr. Steven’s stand made it seem highly unlikely that such a list would be forthcoming. It was a rare challenge to the controversial Senator who had been virtually unknown before he took up the cause of rooting out Communists, just four years earlier. In a speech in West Virginia during February 1950, Mr. McCarthy had claimed to have the names of 205 “card-carrying Communists” in the State Department. However, he later scaled the list down to 57 persons and was willing to name only four of them. His critics have stated that he was never able to produce any real evidence to back up his claims, accusing him of having conducted wild “witch hunts,” which often destroyed both the careers and public lives of those persons who were accused.

Many have said that an interview conducted by the courageous television commentator Edward R. Murrow on March 9, 1954, was a pivotal influence leading to the demise of Senator McCarthy’s career, in turn helping to end the witch-hunt that had destroyed the careers and public lives of so many people. Some have said that this courageous broadcast provided the public with an essential, intensely felt sense of relief from our increasingly painful general preoccuptions with and fears of unannounced persecution. This kind of social relief is even today at the core of the fabric that both gives birth to and provides support for our public and private freedoms.

That night Murrow, Friendly (at that time, a Vice-President of CBS) and their news team produced a 30-minute See It Now special entitled “A Report on Senator Joseph McCarthy.” Murrow used excerpts from McCarthy’s own speeches and proclamations to criticize the Senator and to point out episodes where he clearly had contradicted himself. Murrow knew full well that he was using the medium of television to attack a single man and expose him to nationwide scrutiny, and he was often quoted as having doubts about the method he used for this news report.

Murrow and his See It Now co-producer, Fred Friendly, paid for their own newspaper advertisement for the program; they were not allowed to use any of CBS’s money for the publicity campaign and were prohibited from using the CBS logo in any way. Nonetheless, this 30-minute TV episode contributed to a nationwide backlash against Senator McCarthy and against the Red Scare in general. It has been viewed by many people as representing one of the most critical turning points in the history of the media.

The broadcast provoked tens of thousands of letters, telegrams and phone calls to CBS headquarters, which ran 15-to-1 in favor of Murrow. It has been reported that truck drivers would pull up to Murrow on the street in subsequent days and shout, “Good show, Ed. Good show, Ed.”

Murrow offered Senator McCarthy a chance to comment on the CBS show, and McCarthy provided his own televised response to Murrow three weeks later on See It Now. The Senator’s rebuttal contributed nearly as much to his own downfall as Murrow or any of McCarthy’s other detractors did. Edward R. Murrow had learned how to use the medium of television, but McCarthy had not.

Murrow’s conclusion to the program was truly magistral:

No one familiar with the history of this country can deny that congressional committees are useful. It is necessary to investigate before legislating, but the line between investigating and persecuting is a very fine one and the junior Senator from Wisconsin has stepped over it repeatedly. His primary achievement has been in confusing the public mind, as between internal and the external threats of Communism. We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. We must remember always that accusation is not proof and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law. We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men — not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate and to defend causes that were, for the moment, unpopular.

This is no time for men who oppose Senator McCarthy’s methods to keep silent, or for those who approve. We can deny our heritage and our history, but we cannot escape responsibility for the result. There is no way for a citizen of a republic to abdicate his responsibilities. As a nation we have come into our full inheritance at a tender age. We proclaim ourselves, as indeed we are, the defenders of freedom, wherever it continues to exist in the world, but we cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home.

The actions of the junior Senator from Wisconsin have caused alarm and dismay amongst our allies abroad, and given considerable comfort to our enemies. And whose fault is that? Not really his. He didn’t create this situation of fear; he merely exploited it — and rather successfully. Cassius was right. “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.”
Good night, and good luck.

No Sense Of Decency: A Documentary

This video is 10 minutes in length.  It is extremely well worth your time, and is a vitally important video for everyone who can obtain access to the internet to view in a deeply thoughtful manner. Please spread the word.

Obama: He’s Feelin’ The Love in South Carolina



Part I:  Obama in Columbia, South Carolina

Part II:  Obama in Columbia, South Carolina


Obama in Orangeburg, South Carolina



John Dickerson filed this report on Saturday about Obama’s recent campaign appearance in Columbia, S. C., for Slate Magazine:
Are you here for the wedding or Obama?” the security guard asked me Friday night at the Metropolitan Convention Center in Columbia, S.C. A traditional Indian wedding was being performed down the hall from the Obama rally. It was hard to tell which event had more love. Nearly 3,000 people showed up to see and gawk at the Illinois senator. “I am amazed,” said interior designer Laura Fulton as she looked over the crowd. “I am proud of South Carolina. There are African-Americans, Caucasians, Hispanics, and Indians. It looks like the world. It seems like that is the kind of guy he is—of the world.” At the back of the room stood a clutch of Indian women who had come over from the wedding dressed in blazing orange and red .

Obama arrived beneath an enormous American flag and swam about 30 yards through the pawing crowd to the stage in the middle of the hall. A medley of Bruce Springsteen songs had been playing, but upon the candidate’s arrival the music quickly switched to Aretha Franklin’s “Think.” The crowd surged toward the stage. The young couples stopped the cuddling that had been getting them through the wait. “I am overwhelmed,” he said taking the stage, “and overjoyed.”

Wearing a dark suit and striped tie, Obama spoke in the round, roaming the sage so that he could face all corners of the audience. He reprised much of his young stump speech, talking about the Iraq war, health care, and education, but the bulk of his pitch was thematic. He called the audience to rally around a new kind of hopeful, less-divisive politics. “There has always been another tradition in politics,” he said. “This idea that says we are connected as a people. Just because the world as it is is unjust and just because the world as it is is full of strife and violence and poverty … just because that’s the world we see in front of us now, doesn’t mean it is the world as it has to be, and politics can close that gap.” Obama was regularly interrupted by cheers and applause, but he delivered the evening’s rhetorical high point when he responded to a local politician. Earlier in the week, African-American state Sen. Robert Ford announced he was backing Hillary Clinton. “Everybody else on the ballot is doomed,” Ford said, explaining what would happen if Obama were nominated. “Every Democratic candidate running on that ticket would lose because he’s black and he’s at the top of the ticket—we’d lose the House, the Senate, and the governors and everything.”

Ford’s endorsement, along with that of another prominent African-American official, was timed to steal a little of Obama’s thunder and presumably contribute to another round of stories about whether he could appeal to black voters. Instead, it was a gift. “I’ve been reading the papers in South Carolina,” Obama said before using a preacher’s cadence to paraphrase Ford’s remarks. “Can’t have a black man at the top of the ticket.” The crowd booed. “But I know this: that when folks were saying, We’re going to march for our freedom, they said, You can’t do that.” The audience roared. “When somebody said, You can’t sit at the lunch counter. … You can’t do that. We did. And when somebody said, Women belong in the kitchen not in the board room. You can’t do that. Yes we can.” (At this point I can’t reconstruct the remarks from my tape recorder because the screaming was too loud.) The crowd responded by chanting: “Yes, we can.”

Obama is going to gain more from Ford’s endorsement than Hillary Clinton is. It would have been too audacious, even for Obama, to so overtly link himself to America’s civil rights struggles, but Ford’s remarks invited him to. Obama will no doubt use that new portion of his stump speech again, and outside of South Carolina. The audience, well represented with African-Americans, loved it. “I got chills,” said Constance Eikins, an African-American stay-at-home mom. “It’s very overwhelming. I am happy at the thought of it. We have come a long way.”

And from the February 17th edition of The State (Columbia, South Carolina):

He fought his way through the crowd, shaking hands and posing for pictures.

When he finally reached the square stage reserved for him, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama took the crowd from jubilant to frenzied.

“How you doing South Carolina! Look at this! Look at this! Goodness gracious!” he called out.

He was off and running, bringing the diverse crowd in the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center along with him.

The U.S. senator from Illinois made his first campaign visit to the state Friday and promised he’d be back often.

And in a 40-minute address from the middle of the room, flanked by two giant American flags and one brilliant blue Palmetto State banner, Obama carried the room through parts of his typical stump speech and moments of inspiration.

Obama, 45, responded to criticism of a black S.C. senator who last week endorsed U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton for president while saying Obama can’t win the White House because he’s black and would drag down the rest of the Democratic ticket if he’s nominated.

While he never mentioned the state senator – Robert Ford, D-Charleston – Obama won his biggest cheers of the evening when he responded to the comments.

“Everybody is entitled to their opinion,” Obama said, “but I know this: That when folks were saying, ‘We’re going to march for our freedom,’ somebody said, ‘You can’t do that.’ And somebody said, ‘Don’t sit at the lunch counter, don’t share our table.’ We can’t do that. We can’t.”

Additional detailed information about Senator Barack Obama on the campaign trail can be found at:

Barack Obama – 2008 Presidential Candidate Quick Overview

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