To the Editor:
There was another embarrassing period of American history, a time of actual witch-hunts, of a crushing abuse of power, the utilization of mass hysteria: the astounding reign of Joseph McCarthy.
He was an ignorant man, lacking in intellectual curiosity, impaled by his own fear, a fear he infected the nation with, inciting a mob mentality that went on for years, an attack on liberalism, intellectualism, and any threat to the military-industrial surge of the early ’50s.
The first person to stand up to him was Margaret Chase Smith, in a speech that specifically targeted McCarthy, while omitting his name.
Both Chase and McCarthy were Republicans.
It wasn’t until four years later, when Joseph N. Welsh, in defense of the Army, McCarthy’s latest target, after a vicious attack on a young associate in Welsh’s law firm, spoke these words: “Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness; have you no shame?”
The audience of citizens, newspapermen, and TV cameramen burst into applause, the beginning of a tidal wave of relief and scorn that ended the scourge of McCarthyism, but not before untold damage had been done.
As toxic as McCarthy was, Trump and McConnell are an order of magnitude worse.
Trump’s assault on the environment at this critical time is genocidal.
His dismantling of the agencies meant to protect our way of life, carefully instituted by bipartisan cooperation, is shocking and criminal.
His assault on the integrity of our free and fair elections makes him illegitimate.
His simple inability to tell the truth renders him unfit.
Without Russian interference, he would not have been elected.
Where are the Margaret Chase Smiths, the Joseph N. Welshes of the present?
If just one Republican stood up and spoke with the force of honesty, this charade would collapse, and that man or woman would be a hero as long as our republic stands, but Chase Smith and Welsh didn’t stand to be heroes: They stood for decency, which is all the public ever asks for, what we rarely get, yet what we richly deserve.