Monday, July 04, 2005


In the 1950s Americans had to face the ugly face of slander present in the scowls of Senator Joe McCarthy of Wisconsin. Now we have the ugly, religious and oppressive face of fundamentalism in the face of Tom Delay of Texas, and others. Some of us may not think that what's going on now in America, when to disagree is called the work of Satan, is truly warmed over McCarthyism, but here's a bit of a March 6, 1954 speech by Adlai Stevenson at Miami Beach, during the height of McCarthyism. Many politicians, specially Eisenhower, were afraid to tackle Senator Joe McCarthy, but Adlai Stevenson was not. Note how Stevenson's comments could easily be expressed today by Democrats, liberals or anyone who dares question current Republican leadership and who are promptly assailed as traitors:

"This has been a fateful week in the history of American government. We are witnessing the bitter harvest from the seeds of slander, defamation, and disunion planted in the soil of our democracy. I do not propose to respond in kind tonight to the calculated campaign of deceit to which we have been exposed of late, nor to the insensate attacks on Democrats as traitors, Communists, and murderers of our sons....

"The loyalty and patriotism of a whole political party, of one half of the nation, has been indicted. Twenty years of bipartisan effort, highly intelligent and highly successful, has been called 'twenty years of treason'—under the auspices of the Republican National Committee....

"That such things are said under the official sponsorship of the Republican Party in celebration of the birthday of Abraham Lincoln adds desecration to defamation. This is the first time that politicians, Republicans at that, have sought to split the Union—in Lincoln's honor....

"Extremism produces extremism, lies beget lies.... And those who live by the sword of slander also may perish by it.... When demagoguery and deceit become a national political movement, we Americans are in trouble; not just Democrats, but all of us.

"Our State Department has been abused and demoralized.... The American voice abroad has been enfeebled. Our educational system has been attacked; our press threatened; our servants of God impugned; a former President maligned; the Executive Departments invaded; our foreign policy confused; the President himself patronized....

"And why, you ask, have the demagogues triumphed so often?

"The answer is inescapable: because a group of political plungers has persuaded the President that McCarthyism [Christian fundamentalism] is the best Republican formula for political success...." (From ADLAI STEVENSON by John Martin, pp. 104-105)


According ot Adlai Stevenson's biographer, John Martin, p. 135, Stevenson in the Fifties set up the themes which were later proclaimed by Kennedy, such as the following theme from a Kennedy speech in 1960 which calls for a forward looking, progressive, might I say, "scientific" attitude in America's future:

"This is not merely a contest between Mr. Nixon and myself. In a very real sense it is not just a contest between the Republican Party and the Democratic Party. It is a contest between all citizens of this country who believe that progress is our most noble product, who believe it incumbent upon us as the chief example of freedom to build a strong and vital society, and between those who wish to stand still [to go in reverse]. I ask your help. I ask you to join us. I ask you to help us move this country forward." —JFK


In another speech from Cooper's Union in NYC, during the 1954 mid-term election season, Stevenson responded to a typically nasty Vice-President Nixon speech which charged that disagreement equaled treason, that to seek election of Democrats was an act of treason against the Eisenhower Congress. Where have we heard that recently?

[Open quote] ". . . I fear that irresponsible politicians, tearing the nation apart in the search for votes, have recklessly damaged our freedom, our self-respect, and our unity of national purpose. The challenge is not just to win elections. The greater challenge is to live as a proud and free nation in a future so precarious and so threatening that we can risk no missteps or miscalculations. We need to unite our country, not to divide it; to heal wounds, not to enlarge them. The times demand, not mistrust and suspicion and fear, but more mutual respect and confidence and understanding than we have ever before had in our history." [Campaigns such as this [Nixon's] threatened to] "corrupt the very processes on which the functioning of democratic government depends. To say that one or another American lacks patriotism or favors Communism or wants to subvert our freedom—when his only crime is the crime of disagreement—is to shake our system to the foundation. If we lose our faith in each other, we have lost everything; and no party victory is worth this.... I would plead with all Americans to cleanse their minds of suspicion and hate; to recognize that men may differ about issues without differing about their faith in America or their belief in freedom...." [Close quote]

"I went around the world last year and you want to know something? It hates each other." —Edward J. Mannix

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