Is Rep. Allen West (R-FL) the new Sen. Joe McCarthy? And would that make him a hero or villain?
As McCarthy did in a February 1950 speech in Wheeling, WV, West uttered the “C” word — i.e., “communist” — at a town hall meeting in Jensen Beach, FL on April 10.
The meeting’s moderator asked West, “What percentage of the American legislature do you think are card-carrying Marxists or International Socialists?” West replied, “No, that’s a good question. I believe there’s [sic] about 78 to 81 members of the Democrat Party that are members of the Communist Party… No, they actually don’t hide it. It’s called the Congressional Progressive Caucus.”
The Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) immediately denounced West by likening him to McCarthy who “divided Americans with name-calling and modern-day witch hunts that don’t advance policies to benefit people’s lives.”
Palm Beach Post columnist Frank Cerabino immediately mocked West writing, “I went on a Communist hunt Wednesday,” after Cerabino questioned Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), “Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist?”
The vice chairman of the Communist Party USA joined in the uproar by defending the CPC against West by stating, “We agree with the Progressive Caucus more than some other groups in Congress, but we also have a lot of differences with them. We have areas of agreement with the Republican Party, too. We support public education and public parks and Republicans do, too. But that doesn’t make Republicans Communists.”
Let us first dispense with the myth that McCarthy engaged in a witch hunt in the early 1950s when he exposed the extent to which real live communists had infiltrated the executive branch of the government.
As recounted in M. Stanton Evans’ brilliant 2007 expose, “Blacklisted by History: The Untold Story of Senator Joe McCarthy and His Fight Against America’s Enemies” (2007, Three Rivers Press), McCarthy was 100% on target in his general point that communists embedded in the Roosevelt, Truman and Eisenhower administrations not only engaged in Soviet espionage but actually influenced U.S. foreign policy to the detriment of our country from before World War II to just before the Korean War.
The American left’s response to McCarthy was eerily similar to its reaction to West’s comments — smearing them both as essentially being crazy. The smear was so successful in the case of McCarthy, that not only was his career and life destroyed, but his very name became an anathema — i.e., “McCarthyism.”
As Evans demonstrates in painstaking detail, however, McCarthyism is ironically what the left did to McCarthy, not what he did by-in-large to innocent people.
Next, did West overreach in labeling members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus as “members of the Communist Party”? Let’s not lose sight of the forest for the trees.
Few of the McCarthy-era communist agents and suspects were “card-carrying members” of the Communist Party USA — for obvious reasons. Nonetheless, they all apparently believed that the Marxist-socialist, totalitarian form of government as instituted in the Soviet Union was preferable to our democratic republic as it is embodied in the Constitution.
Is it wrong to consider “progressives” as communists?
CPC member Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) threatened in a 2008 congressional hearing to “socialize” oil companies. CPC member Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is an acknowledged socialist. In 2009, the Democratic Socialists of America claimed 70 members of Congress, a list that includes 66 members of the current 76 members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
And while political definitions and labeling are always tricky, you can check out the members of the CPC and decide for yourself whether these are politicians who tend to advocate and vote for policies that increase government control over our lives or for policies, like the Constitution, that attempt to restrain government in favor of individual liberty.
As with the communists of the McCarthy era, the problem with today’s communists is that they operate covertly, never openly admitting to their political and social agenda. This characteristic of communists stuck in Ronald Regan’s craw.
As recounted by Reagan biographer James Mann, Reagan wrote to Playboy publisher Hugh Hefner in 1960: “I, like you, will defend the right of any American to openly practice and preach any political philosophy from monarchy to anarchy. But this is not the case with regard to the communist. He is bound by party discipline to deny that he is a communist so that he can by subversion and stealth impose on an unwilling people the rule of the International Communist Party which is in fact the government of Soviet Russia.”
Allen West isn’t crazy. He spoke the truth and hit a nerve. It’s time to dust off the word “communist” and apply where appropriate so that we can have honest political debate and, most importantly, elections.