“American Experience – McCarthy”, by Sharon Grimberg

Summary: This January 2020 video makes use of recently declassified information to document how McCarthyism came to life as the “Red Scare”.  It explains this behavior as demagoguery – and it is today growing and becoming more sophisticated among a genre of politicians. McCarthy provided their basic playbook. The video puts the fragility of the American democracy on display.

This documentary shows McCarthy as a failed politician that had little substance to offer the citizenry, but did have an aggressive engaging personality. In desperation to salvage his senate seat, he gave a shrewd manipulative speech in February 1950, where he brazenly lied about deep communist infiltration of the state department. Citizens became fixated on the ruse and McCarthy thrived on the attention.

There was no substance to the Red Scare, but it basically gave McCarthy something to do; he used confusion to prey on fear over a four-year period, ending in his censure from the senate.

McCarthy and Cohn were the prototye modern demigods.

Per the video, McCarthy developed a symbiotic relationship with the Republican party. They worked together, propagating false narratives and promoting dubious investigations. Even Eisenhauer tolerated McCarthy, and used him to defeat Adlai Stevenson in 1952. But when McCarthy launched into a vigorous effort to undermine the US Army, Eisenhauer did act, and public McCarthy hearings took him down. He was ruined as a politician but received no formal penalties.

Roy Cohn lawyered for McCarthy; he became a central catalyst to the substance and style of the Red Scare. Cohn went on to mentor then president-to-be Donald Trump. When Trump publicly asks, “where’s my Roy Cohn?”, he is subscribing to McCarthyism and reinforcing the expectation that his demagogic personal interests be protected. Some contend Trump has “upped the game” by installing and adopting actual Attorney General William Barr as his Roy Cohn.

The video documents characteristics and tactics of McCarthy/McCarthyism, and I suggest they are obvious in the behaviors of today’s glut of “wanna-be” demigods. Among them: rapid compounding of lies and false narratives in the course of fear mongering, having no substantial service offering outside of business interests, assaults on the press and authors (and manipulation thereof), steadfast unwavering to hold political position through any measure of cost, intimidation and actions against groups and individuals for either resisting or failing to support insidious efforts.

Hopefully, demagoguery does not carry today’s start of the impeachment trial of President Donald John Trump in the US Senate.

This video is also recommended for its thorough clear communication of information that Americans need to understand, especially at this pivotal point in history. The citizenry needs to see McCarthy-style demagoguery for the democracy-killing threat that it is.

The video is also recommended in order that people be better equipped to stand up and stop the erosion of the country that is fueled by such demagoguery. I suggest the people have the responsibility, need, and opportunity to do so. How better can we promote among us the capability and will to do this vital work?