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  • When They Came for Those Other People, Updated

    Posted by David Foster on September 25th, 2019 (All posts by )

    In 2015, I posted the poem “Into Our Town the Hangman Came,” with comments about its relevance to the current political situation.  I’ve now reposted this poem at Ricochet, with additional commentary about the “Cancel Culture” and a link to a relevant book review by Roger Scruton.


    16 Responses to “When They Came for Those Other People, Updated”

    1. Gavin Longmuir Says:

      From David’s comments at Ricochet: “During the lunch, he [IBM CEO Tom Watson] mentioned his concerns about McCarthyism.”
      At the time, none of Watson’s lunch companions would support him publicly.

      What makes this fascinating is that –today — we know that McCarthy was more right than wrong. Yes, the Federal government had been infiltrated by Communist supporters who were actively undermining the interests of the US — rather like much of the senior ranks of the Federal bureaucracy today.

      But what about the people who initially stood silent as McCarthy pursued the traitors to the US, and later piled on to McCarthy in a Two-Minute Hate when it became fashionable to do so? How many of them have ever apologized to McCarthy’s memory?

      Unfortunately, we humans are herd animals. We are highly subject to peer pressure, and have less free will than we like to think we do.

    2. David Foster Says:

      Gavin…”What makes this fascinating is that –today — we know that McCarthy was more right than wrong.”

      But even if there had been real witches, it would have been important to conduct the witchcraft trials on the basis of evidence and proper procedure, rather than on unsupported accusations and mass hysteria.

    3. Gavin Longmuir Says:

      David F: “But even if there had been real witches …”

      The fact is there WERE real witches. And the people who tut-tutted about procedural matters were — wittingly or unwittingly — the Useful Idiots for genuine enemies of the United States.

    4. Brian Says:

      Nixon did this it “right” with Hiss, and they never forgave him for it, stopping at nothing to destroy him.
      McCarthy did it “wrong”. He was too sloppy and loose with facts. If you’re going to take on the system, you best make no mistakes at all, or “they” will take you down at your first misstep.
      P.S. That’s also one theory about why FISA-gate is taking so long. The “good guys” have to get their ducks completely perfectly in a row. Of course, the other theory is that there are no “good guys” and the swamp is completely in charge and nothing is ever going to be done about it. I have to say Theory #2 looks far more likely at this point.
      P.P.S. In totally and completely unrelated news, “they” are never going to tell us anything about whatever happened to Epstein, or the investigation into him, are they?

    5. David Foster Says:


      There are unquestionable real terrorists and real Chinese secret agents in America today, not to mention Russian secret agents and various others. But does this imply that requiring actual *evidence* and *process* before such people are imprisoned or fired is ‘tut-tutting about procedural matters’?

      For a dry cleaner to interpret a diagram left in an engineer’s pocket as evidence of treason…and for the authorities to take such an interpretation seriously…is surely evidence of widespread hysteria.

    6. Gavin Longmuir Says:

      David F: “But does this imply that requiring actual *evidence* and *process* before such people are imprisoned or fired is ‘tut-tutting about procedural matters’?”

      Take the case of Hillary Rodham Clinton as an example. She is clearly guilty of mishandling government secrets, lying to Congress, and who knows what else. Certainly, before Mrs. Clinton is sent to a hard labor camp, she deserves a trial in which the evidence is presented against her and a jury finds her guilty. This trial serves two purposes — first, to give her the protections against arbitrary government action which all citizens should have; second, as an object lesson to those who might be tempted to follow her example.

      But what of all the government employees who have failed in their duty to prosecute Mrs. Clinton? They should be summarily fired, to make sure they do not continue with their activities. Perhaps some people who don’t deserve to be fired will be caught up in the purge — but losing one’s job is not the same as losing one’s liberty. The procedural standard required for firing should be much, much less than for imprisoning.

      However, the usual suspects in Congress have made it very difficult to fire those functional traitors within the bureaucracy, and they continue to saw off the branch on which they (and we) sit. Unsustainable!

    7. Jay Guevara Says:

      But even if there had been real witches, it would have been important to conduct the witchcraft trials on the basis of evidence and proper procedure, rather than on unsupported accusations and mass hysteria.

      McCarthy, as a Senator, was in no position to conduct trials on any basis whatever. He was calling attention to a grievous problem that had gone unremarked upon previously, and that needed to be addressed. The first step in addressing any problem is to have the problem pointed out.

      We now know that the Roosevelt Administration was heavily penetrated by Communists and Communist sympathizers, right up to the highest levels. For example, the top American negotiator at the Bretton Woods conference was Harry Dexter White, now known definitively to have been a Soviet agent.

    8. Gavin Longmuir Says:

      Jay G: “We now know that the Roosevelt Administration was heavily penetrated by Communists and Communist sympathizers, right up to the highest levels.”

      Like many others, I was brought up with the story that World War II was the “Good War”, in which our guys beat down the German & Japanese menaces. But in post-college days as I read more about it, that did not seem to be the complete story. For example, the role of the USSR in grinding down German forces was often ignored.

      It does seem plausible that a very important interest of the Roosevelt Administration was to assist the Communists of the USSR — especially after Germany turned on its erstwhile ally and invaded the USSR in June 1941. The Japanese attack on the US in December 1941 thereafter made it easy for FDR to assist the Communists. The later discovery of the extent of Communist penetration of FDR’s Administration seems to lend support to this assessment.

      It may have been in the US national interest to assist the USSR in its fight against Germany. But the fellow travelers in the Federal Government continued to assist the Communist cause even after WWII was over and the USSR had turned against the USA. McCarthy definitely had a point!

    9. Mike K Says:

      There is a pretty good case to be made, partly by Pat Buchanan, whose book, “The Unnecessary War,” is too negative on Churchill but makes a good point that Chamberlain’s “Polish Guarantee” was a massive blunder, that Britain should have stayed out of the war and let Hitler and Stalin fight it out.

      Hitler may have decided to invade France in 1940 but the French did not fight. There were lots of British fascists and Halifax might well have signed an armistice but there are reasons to think that Britain could have stayed out and defended itself if attacked.

      I think there is a better argument that Britain should have stayed out in 1914. Germany built the High Seas Fleet in response the Boer War and here Buchanan has a better argument. I’ve read another book, “The Sleepwalkers, about how the war started.

      I highly recommend both books. While I don’t agree with Pat, his arguments make you think and learn.

    10. Jay Guevara Says:

      It does seem plausible that a very important interest of the Roosevelt Administration was to assist the Communists of the USSR

      Gavin, assisting the Communists of the USSR after Operation Barbarossa just made good sense; let them shoulder most of the burden in blood. But that doesn’t necessitate assisting the Communists of the good old USA.

      I think are two fundamental reasons for the heavy Communist penetration of our government.

      1. The Depression disillusioned many re capitalism, and induced them to look for an alternative, which they found in communism. Unfortunately, they were not sufficiently perspicacious to recognize that capitalism’s temporary problems were as nothing compared to communism’s, which were fundamental, grievous, and insoluble.

      2. Americans had no idea of the extent of Communist penetration of the government, the media, and Hollywood. They were unaware that, e.g., our diplomats in China were working to support Mao and undermine Chiang Kai-Shek, a senior editor of Time magazine was a card-carrying Communist, as were many screenwriters in Hollywood.

      This is why McCarthy, warts and all, played a crucial role, in my opinion. He did for Communist penetration what the contemporaneous Kefauver Commission did for organized crime: reveal to the American public the nature and extent of a serious problem that had heretofore gone unrecognized, and that needed to be addressed.

    11. Mike K Says:

      You need to remember that HUAC, the House UnAmerican Activities Committee, was not McCarthy. The chair was a Congressman from a Pennsylvania and Democrat.

    12. Miguel cervantes Says:

      Yes he was govt oversight, one of the soviet spirs was laughlin currie, who previously has helped set up the flying tigers, but had turned against the chiang regime at some point.

    13. Jay Guevara Says:

      And HUAC was originally founded to investigate Nazi influence in America.

    14. Anonymous Says:

      Communism was/is subversive. It was recognized as such by the general public. I believe fellow travelers think that they “know better” and that the rest of us aren’t competent enough to make our own decisions about how we are to be ruled. It’s clarifies the situation when one considers that leftist media and academia have made a huge issue of the unfairness of people being asked “are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist party?”. The reason leftists were reluctant to answer the question is that other members of the community (those who didn’t “know better”) would look upon a “yes” answer with disdain. Opposing a subversive group requires the identification of the members of the group and the question was a fair one. I think McCarthyism may have bought the country a a few more decades of freedom from the leftists.


    15. David Foster Says:

      McCarthy attacked *George Marshall*, along with many other people, as a subversive. He even stated that the strategy of cross-channel invasion, as opposed to up from Italy and through Eastern Europe, was motivated by pro-Russia sympathies.

      The man was power-hungry and probably mentally unstable.

    16. Miguel cervantes Says:

      He raised queations how many possible missions like the one to china in 1944 went awry

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