Special Sub-Topic: Myths of McCarthyism
|"McCarthyism" is frequently used as a generic term to refer to a wide range of activities aimed at exposing Communists in U.S. government and the media, whether or not Joe McCarthy had anything to do with them.|
t. In fact, Joe McCarthy had no involvement in the two most common factors labeled "McCarthyism": the Hollywood blacklist and HUAC. The term was first coined by Owen Lattimore, who had served as an advisor to FDR on China and later to the State Department. Lattimore viewed the Communists in China as "agrarian reformers" and was accused by McCarthy of having Communist ties. Though the term "McCarthyism" began with specific reference to McCarthy, it soon grew to encompass a wide range of anti-communist efforts by various people and committees.
|Even though McCarthy ruined the reputation of Alger Hiss with his ruthless cross examination, no credible evidence has ever surfaced that Hiss was a Communist spy.|
f. This is false on at least two levels. First of all, although Richard Nixon played a part in exposing Hiss, McCarthy did not. The questioning of Hiss occurred years before McCarthy would enter the Senate. Secondly, much evidence has arisen to indicate that Hiss was, indeed, a spy. Former Communist spy Whittaker Chambers identified him as a Soviet agent and produced microfilm and other government documents he said Hiss had given him; some of these documents were shown to have been typed on Hiss's own typewriter. Finally, Soviet cables decoded by the U.S. military explicitly named Hiss as a Soviet agent. Hiss was a top aide to FDR and advised him at Yalta.
|The committee headed by Joe McCarthy that questioned suspected Communists was called HUAC, or the House UnAmerican Activities Committee. |
f. Joe McCarthy never played any part in HUAC. As the name suggests, it was a House committee, and McCarthy never served in the House: he was a senator. McCarthy did, however, participate in Senate probes regarding suspected communists in the State Department. His methods were met with disgust by his political opponents. For example, he was accused of conduct unbecoming a member of the United States Senate by Senator Ralph Flanders, who compared him to Adolf Hitler. The Senate voted to censure him in 1954.
|After two ex-communist spies had named Harry Dexter White as an active Communist agent, and after the FBI had provided the president with oral confirmation, what did Truman do?|
Appointed White to the IMF. President Truman made White a top International Monetary Fund (IMF) official.
|Despite McCarthy's hysterical witch hunts, no evidence has ever surfaced that Julius Rosenberg was a Communist agent. |
f. Ethel's brother implicated both, as did several other witnesses. Nikita Khrushchev, in his 1990 memoirs, mentioned that the Rosenbergs were central in helping the U.S.S.R. to obtain the atomic bomb. Finally, the Venona Project confirmed that Julius Rosenberg was a Soviet agent. The Venona Project decoded the Soviet Cables intercepted by the National Security Agency from 1943 to 1980. This project was kept secret until 1994, and the decoded cables began to be declassified in 1995. As of 2003, 240,000 intercepts had been released to the public, confirming the presence of scores of Soviet agents in the State Department during the 40's and 50's. Many of the major communist agents, however, were not exposed by McCarthy himself, but by others, and the most notable exposures occurred prior to his entry into the Senate. McCarthy accused only about 40 of the agents named in the cables.
|The Hollywood blacklist was not compiled and enforced by the U.S. Congress, but rather it was a function of Hollywood itself. |
t. HUAC did bring the "Hollywood Ten" in to testify before Congress, however. But the blacklist was not produced by Congress; it was produced by Hollywood itself. Some blacklisted celebrities moved to other countries. Joe McCarthy, being in the Senate rather than the House, was never involved in this probe of Hollywood. He seemed to be primarily concerned with attacking members of the State Department, where he specifically named 59 suspected Communists.
|McCarthy orchestrated the passage of the Smith Act, which made it illegal to either teach or advocate the violent overthrow of the government. |
f. The act was introduced before McCarthy was ever a senator. In 1940, the Smith Act was passed by a Democratically controlled Congress and signed into law by Franklin D. Roosevelt.
|McCarthy insisted on releasing the names of suspected Communists to the public, despite the resistance of Democrats who feared it would damage innocent reputations.|
f. McCarthy made the names public only when forced by the Senate to do so. At first, he resisted revealing the names. He felt strongly that they should only be released behind closed committee doors, and not to the public. However, the Senate voted to compel him to release the names to the press.
|McCarthy accused Annie Lee Moss of being a Communist. Not only was she not a Communist, but as a mere wash woman, she had absolutely no access to any government information.|
f. Annie Lee Moss worked in the Pentagon's Code Room. The FBI pegged her as a Communist; she was listed in the Party's records, and she received its newspaper.
|I.F. Stone, the journalist eulogized for his brave attacks on Joe McCarthy, was later identified as a Soviet agent in secret Soviet cables decoded by the U.S. military. |
t. The revelation first came in 1992, when an ex-KGB agent identified Stone. Many declined to believe the accusation at the time, but then, in 1995, the declassified Venona documents confirmed he was an agent. His code name was "pancake," though at least one cable mentioned him explicitly by name. To read selections from these cables, you can go to: http://www.cia.gov/csi/books/venona/part2.htm.
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