One would have thought with the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the coming apart of the Soviet Union that the old days if calling people out for being communists with scant evidence would be over. Ditto the branding private institutions of higher learning (and much in corporate contributions) like Harvard University as "riddled with Reds" would be so preposterous as to be out of date. But the fact is a new "Red Baiter" was come to the fore in the US Senate--freshman Ted Cruz of Texas. Cruz not only ripped into Harvard Law School (one of his old alma maters) but accused several members of the faculty there of being Communists.
The funny thing is that Senator Cruz, a 42 year old Canadian born former Solicitor General of Texas and darling of the tea party won't name who the communists are--they are just there, or were there when he was at Harvard. The other funny thing is that Cruz is was executive editor of the Harvard Law Review as a student there. (Funny thing for a conservative from Texas to get a job like that in a department run by commies, don't you think
Also a knee-slapping bit of humor comes from the fact that Cruz had no trouble implying that former GOP Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, President Obama's pick to be Secretary of Defense, is somehow making common cause with groups working to destroy Israel. True Hagel has ruffled the feathers of the Likud Wing of American conservatives but he is first and foremost an American and a former soldier and more than qualified for any cabinet post in any administration.
This is right out of the playbook of the late junior Senator from Wisconsin, Joe McCarthy, one of the outstanding demagogues in American history. "Red-baiting" was not of course invented by "Tail Gunner" McCarthy, who died in 1957 after drinking himself into an early grave.
The young Richard Nixon and many others cut their teeth implying that their Democratic opponents were Communists before "Tail-Gunner" Joe. But McCarthy and his loyal watchdog Roy Cohn made innuendo and slander into a crusade and for a time brought along a considerable portion of the American public and the body politics with them, using more and more outrageous statements against fewer and fewer people who actually were even once involved in any radical movements. Phrases like "pre-mature anti-fascist" and "fellow traveler" became quite popular until 1954-5 when McCarthy took on the US Army and famously imploded in a televised hearing when he took on a savvy attorney named Joseph Welch who bagged him with the phrase "at long last, have you no sense of decency, sir?"
It was the culmination of Professor Richard Hostetler came to call "the paranoid style in American politics. Of course it wasn't the end of the witch-hunting, but it was a corner turned.
And now we have Mr. Cruz, whose father ironically once fought with Fidel Castro in the mountain of Cuba (reportedly) and whose wife is a Wall Street broker from Goldman Sachs. Only in America I guess. This gasbag who never served his country in the armed forces even had the gall to imply that Chuck Hagel, a former Vietnam War Veteran, twice wounded in combat, was taking money from North Korea, Hamas and Saudi Arabia to betray his country. Even some of his Republican colleagues like Senator John McCain had to call him out of bounds. One wonders how long a guy like Ted Cruz would have lasted in the days of the "code duello" if he had called say, Andrew Jacskon or Aaron Burr, something nasty and untrue?
Here's some more of the story from the Atlantic Magazine Blog.
Freshman Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is worried about radicals. During the confirmation hearings for Chuck Hagel to become Secretary of Defense, Cruz's questioning was so agressive that McCain rebuked him,saying, "No one on this committee at any time should impugn [Hagel's] character or integrity." Senators of both parties anonymously told several newspapers that Cruz is kind of a jerk. California Sen. Barbara Boxer referenced Joseph McCarthy, saying she was reminded of "a different time and place, when you said, 'I have here in my pocket a speech you made on such-and-such a date,' and of course there was nothing in the pocket." The New Yorker's Jane Mayer now says Boxer's "analogy may have been more apt than she realized," reporting that, in 2010, Cruz claimed there were 12 communists actively plotting against the government at Harvard Law School when he was a student there from 1992 to 1995. But Harvard and Chuck Hagel shouldn't feel singled out — Ted Cruz sees anti-American plotters all over the place.
Mayer attended Cuz's speech, which was at a rally sponsored by the Koch brothers-backed Americans for Prosperity. Cruz said Obama was "the most radical" president "ever to occupy the Oval Office." Mayer reports:
He then went on to assert that Obama, who attended Harvard Law School four years ahead of him, “would have made a perfect president of Harvard Law School." The reason, said Cruz, was that, "There were fewer declared Republicans in the faculty when we were there than Communists! There was one Republican. But there were twelve who would say they were Marxists who believed in the Communists overthrowing the United States government."
One of Cruz's professors was Charles Fried, a Republican, and he told Meyer there were at least three others in the Harvard faculty lounge.
Again, no names are provided, and no indication that these professors are people doing anything to violently overturn the government. Just innuendo. It will be interesting to see just how far Cruz gets before he is either a vile kingmaker or a pathetic rummy.