McCarthy Hearings
May 5, 2003 8:38 AM   Subscribe

McCarthy Hearings Published. "The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations has published all of the transcripts of executive sessions held while Senator Joseph R. McCarthy chaired the subcommittee from 1953 to 1954. Publication of the transcripts, which marks the 50th anniversary of the hearings, constitutes the opening of the largest collection of documents related to McCarthy’s anti-Communist investigations."
posted by MrMoonPie (11 comments total)
I remember finding a slim volume of testimmony in my college library while looking for something else and being extrememly disappointed with Edward G. Robinson. I guess he got cast against type a lot.
posted by yerfatma at 8:47 AM on May 5, 2003

These are the executive sessions, secret until now.

From AP story:
Senate associate historian Donald Ritchie, who assembled the volumes, said McCarthy and his chief counsel, Roy Cohn, used the closed-door sessions like grand jury proceedings.
"Anybody who stood up to McCarthy in closed session, and did so articulately, tended not to get called up into the public session," Ritchie said. "McCarthy was only interested in the people he could browbeat publicly."

Dang it, I was just about to make these my first front page post.

The writers (Dashiell Hammett; Helen Goldfrank; Jerre G. Mangione; and James Langston Hughes.) are here, FYI

McCarthy beating up on Aaron Copland (on the same page) is very creepy.

And AP has excerpts.
posted by CunningLinguist at 9:23 AM on May 5, 2003

"Anybody who stood up to McCarthy in closed session, and did so articulately, tended not to get called up into the public session."

I found it very interesting that it turns out the best way to get McCarthy off your back was to stand up to him. Really no different than a playground bully...
posted by Dirjy at 9:41 AM on May 5, 2003

Except older and drunker and little chance your dad could beat him up.
posted by yerfatma at 10:05 AM on May 5, 2003

This is so very, very timely.

"Have you now, or have you ever been a member of al Qaida?"

Closed door sessions, with little to no public scrutiny. Just fear and loathing among the populace. Though, I don't think the potential Reds were ever incarcerated for months without knowing the charges against them.

Remember, we do this for your own protection.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:54 AM on May 5, 2003

Not quite as much fun as dry sockets: the discussion over at FreeRepublic. One beauty:

McCarthy was right. A great American, he knew the Entertainment Industry was ridden with Communists and leftists, he knew the Educational Institutions and government agencies were ridden with communists and socialists - and they still are.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 11:18 AM on May 5, 2003

Oh, man, PinkStainless, I wish you wouldn't have posted that link. Or at least, that I wouldn't have followed it. My mind reels.
posted by COBRA! at 11:22 AM on May 5, 2003

I always like to point out that there was not *one* anti-communist hearing in that period, but *two*. The Senate McCarthy hearings and the far longer running HUAC (House Un-American Affairs Committee). HUAC was originally created to investigate Nazis and the KKK, and expanded into an anti-Communist role.

The McCarthy hearings smeared many innocent people, as did the HUAC, but the HUAC *did* nail a *lot* of Communists, and Communists who *were* working against the United States, I might add. Assisting in this were two young attorneys: Richard M. Nixon and Robert F. Kennedy.

And this is a valid point: when people refer to *both* investigations as "witch hunts", they are trying to obscure the fact that there *were* real villains out there. Yes, innocents were smeared in the process, but serious espionage supported by the Soviet Union was also illuminated.

The US also had a secret spy who knew the inner working of the CPUSA. Their #2 man!
posted by kablam at 11:31 AM on May 5, 2003

Interestingly, kablam, Whittaker Chambers, who testified in front of HUAC against Alger Hiss (who almost definitely was a communist working in the state department), warned about the danger of Joseph McCarthy. He claimed that McCarthy would hurt the fight against communism more than help it.

The McCarthy hearings were, in many ways, just Joseph McCarthy jumping on the bandwagon, starting a "wanna-be" anti-Communist Crusade but turning out to be an emptier, more sensationalistic, and more drunken version of the HUAC hearings. Sort of like that kid who missed out on Pokemon and instead coudn't shut up about Dragonball Z, even though he wasn't actually very good at it.
posted by deanc at 1:36 PM on May 5, 2003

deanc: Ah, but the *reason* McCarthy was doing it was for his projected run for the White House against Eisenhower. Bad mistake. Eisenhower ruined McCarthy's campaign timetable: every time he wanted to go on the road to muster support, Ike would come up with some excuse to call him back to D.C.
Even though HUAC was *supposed* to generate legislation against anti-American groups, it almost never did so; however, it *did* put pressure on other congressional committees to pass Cold War espionage-related legislation.
HUAC continued to do its thing, finally calling it quits in the post-Vietnam, post-Watergate period.
posted by kablam at 4:41 PM on May 5, 2003

Thanks, MrMoonPie - missed this stuff yesterday.

Hollywood took a big hit too - many writers had careers totally ruined. Here's a few interesting resources about the Hollywood Blacklist. Some writers didn't have screen credits restored to them til 1997!

Hollywood blacklist - memories and reflections by a daughter of a blacklisted writer

Modern American Poetry - About McCarthyism - a collection of articles including a good article on The Hollywood Blacklist
posted by madamjujujive at 10:25 AM on May 6, 2003

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