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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

McCarthy's Bid to Uncover Communists

May 09, 2003

As "Papers Show Sen. McCarthy Was Sizing Up His Victims" and your editorial (May 6) demonstrate, the left's "love affair" with Sen. Joseph McCarthy continues unabated. Indeed, the canard of "McCarthyism" is a close second behind "racist" and "bigot" in the left's shallow critique of conservative thinking and policies.

Of course McCarthy's methods were crude and opportunistic -- at times, perhaps, even evil. (And, yes, innocents became victims.) Yet his sometimes-reprehensible behavior should not obscure the fact that, if anything, he understated the extent of communist infiltration of our government in the 1940s and '50s. As the recent revelations of the Venona papers and a new book establish, there were close to 400 communists and communist sympathizers operating clandestinely inside our federal government during World War II alone. Many, or most, of these individuals were no doubt still active in 1950. The revelations from the Venona papers are based on decryption of encoded messages sent by the Soviets during the 1940s. They refute the bogus claim that McCarthy was conducting nothing but a "witch hunt."

Your editorial states that America was "flirting with oppression" during the McCarthy era. Yet during that time of "repression," so dear to the mythology of the left, only two people were executed (the Rosenbergs, who, as the Verona decrypts verify, were indeed communist spies) and but a handful incarcerated. Tell us the truth about the McCarthy era.

Craig Luther

Tehachapi

*

My wife was accused of being a communist, which she was not, because she belonged to the Actor's Lab. Her husband was a leader in the Westside Committee Against the Re-Nazification of Germany, labeled by some as a Stalinist front. The immigration authorities declared her an "illegal immigrant," as her father had failed to register her as a child of 8 when the family moved to the States from Canada. That she was married to an American, a war veteran, and her father had become an American citizen meant nothing. More disquieting is that her derivative citizenship papers were in the files, found by her diligent attorney.

The trauma had a lasting impact on her life. The stress led to her husband's early death from a heart attack, leaving her a widow with two children.

Today she is a vigorous spokesperson for equal justice and treatment whenever or wherever she finds government officials engaged in McCarthyism. In today's climate of a nation at war, and terrorism, there are too many instances of forgetfulness by officials and a seemingly new wave of McCarthyists.

Hyman H. Haves

Pacific Palisades

*

The newly revealed transcripts do not show that McCarthy was more of a monster than those of us who always believed in "innocent until proved guilty" already knew. It is the "moderates," those who looked the other way, those who knew exactly that what he was doing was against everything that this country is supposed to stand for, who were the real culprits and enablers.

In the entertainment industry, McCarthy's thrust would have been much weaker and not had the disastrous effect on the lives of innocent victims of his witch hunts without the enthusiastic cooperation of the Ronald Reagans. I fault the studios more than I do McCarthy. Had the employers refused to blacklist, McCarthy's effectiveness would have been nullified.

Stuart Lubin

Los Angeles

*

If you don't really believe in divine intervention, try this on. Recently sealed records from the McCarthy hearings were opened, detailing even more clearly how this demagogue abused the power of his office to bully, terrorize and intimidate those he deemed his enemy, while also denying many Americans their constitutional and civil rights. Is it a coincidence that we're getting a stark reminder of this American tragedy while McCarthy doppelganger Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft holds office? Probably not.

Garry Kluger

La Crescenta

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