For the polite conservatives, McCarthy was useful. That's because he wasn't only attacking alleged communists and the Democrats whom he accused of shielding them. He was also attacking the entire centrist American establishment, the Eastern intellectuals and the power class, many of whom were Republicans themselves, albeit moderate ones. . . . Moderate Republicans, not Democrats, led the fight against him. . . .Of course, Gabler's reference to the tendentious Professor Hofstadter takes us back to the Adorno/Frankfurt School of political psychoanalysis. But the Reds whom McCarthy baited weren't Oedipal complexes or Rorschach's inblots. They were genuine Communist agents and communist sympathizers in government, influencing U.S. policy in a pro-Stalin/pro-Mao direction, and the true story of McCarthy's courageous crusade to expose this subversion is the subject of M. Stanton Evan's excellent book, Blacklisted by History. Buy one for yourself, buy another as a gift to someone you love, and be sure to check out the other selections in the 2008 Holiday Book Sale.
McCarthyism is usually considered a virulent form of Red-baiting and character assassination. But it is much more than that. As historian Richard Hofstadter described it in his famous essay, "The Paranoid Style in American Politics," McCarthyism is a way to build support by playing on the anxieties of Americans, actively convincing them of danger and conspiracy even where these don't exist.
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