Two-Step Mccarthyism

One element of encrypting one’s email, a step I highly recommend everyone take before the inauguration, is called two-step verification. That seems to be at play right now on the part of the 1% with a Democratic and Republican flavor of McCarthyism rearing its head over the past few days.

The first, stemming from the GOP, is a banal old-school regurgitation of the David Horowitz song and dance routine. Melissa Garriga wrote of this Professors Watchlist:

Some of the professors listed as threats to young conservative minds are advocates for tougher gun laws while others speak out against Israel and the Netanyahu government. There is a history professor who dared to link slavery to capitalism and then there is Jonathan Zasloff, a law professor at University of California, who claimed on social media (not in a lecture hall, mind you) that some Republicans “were catering to their KKK core of old, angry, white Southern men with reactionary views on race.”

Several greater Providence professors have been pooped out by this crap machine, including environmental and labor historian Erik Loomis from URI. While it is obviously disturbing to see this waltz appearing on our cultural dance floor yet again, the plain fact is that tenure remains a fortified element of the liberal academic cultural edifice and it is doubtful that there will be firings stemming from this on the level seen seven decades ago in America. This is really going to amount to nothing more than a snowball fight between progressives and Twitter trolls. (Oh wait, our incoming president is a Twitter troll!) The most notable moments of academic McCarthyism of this sort, the ouster of Ward Churchill and Norman Finkelstein, were both bipartisan projects. It is clear from a recent story carried by the dubious Washington Times (more on them in a minute), dealing with Notre Dame’s faculty reaction to this issue, that the Democrat-friendly press and therefore the Democrats are not in favor of this forward assault on academic freedom.

The second, previously given coverage by CounterPunch and several other alternative outlets, has scared the absolute living hell out of me. It begins with the Washington Post and has been proliferated via social media and second-rate mainstream news outlets as a cultural meme called “fake news”. In essence, anyone who has ever opposed the banging of the war drums on the doorstep of Russia taken by the American military-industrial complex since the ascent of Vladimir Putin is guilty of espionage. Coleen Rowley told Sharmini Peries on The Real News:

[W]e’ve had this castigation of independent news sites, opinion and news sites, online alleging that 200 different websites are controlled by the Russians — which is absolutely a return of McCarthyism and it’s ludicrous on many accounts, partially because we know now that there are Macedonian teenagers who are launching all kinds of fake memes and things on social media. And even NBC had a news segment today that said 150 of the sites were Macedonian. There’s also some idea that perhaps there’s a tie to the Pentagon leaking some of this false information and/or Ukrainians. There could be any number of hackers and any number of people that are putting out information. So, I don’t think we know at all — we don’t have any clear evidence that it’s coming from the Russian leadership.

Things get even more sexy as one learns via reporting by Mark Ames that the Post reporter has some very interesting ties to various fascist and neo-fascist groups across the globe.

This terrifies me more than the Republican effort for two reasons. First, in terms of pure numbers, the Republicans are a numerical minority. Bruce Dixon explained this best recently:

For the last two decades the demographic numbers among the most dependable Republican constituencies have been in decline. Republican strategists answered this in two ways. The first way is by relentlessly gerrymandering the drawing of state legislative and congressional maps that turn minorities of Republican voters into majorities of Republican state legislators and congressmen. The second Republican answer to their own declining numbers has been the enactment of briar patch of state laws and administrative practices [restricting franchise]…

This means that, in a word, a very small number of people actually believe the Republicans anymore. They had to steal the 2016 election via a series of illegal moves in the swing states so to get their puppet Trump into office.

But the converse of this, the second reason, is where things get really freaky for me. This means a majority of people believe the Democrat-friendly neoliberal Post. This in turn means that they are inclined to believe the idea that independent left journalists, who have no tenured positions, are in reality espionage agents for the Russian government.

That means I as an openly queer man have just been accused of being an agent of the Kremlin.

The last time we had this dance card presented to America, Joseph McCarthy and his minions used this accusation to destroy the lives of thousands of same-sex attracted New Dealers and third party voters. Everything from the State Department and Pentagon to elementary school classrooms and clerical staff pools was purged of queers in the Lavender Scare. Oh what an irony of history that one of these third parties that was given queer support, Henry Wallace’s Progressive Party bid in 1948, had green as its campaign colors! What’s more, the modern gay men’s rights movement was begun by Harry Hay at a cocktail party held by a queer gathering under the heading Bachelors for Wallace!

It is almost impossible to tabulate how many lives were destroyed by the Lavender Scare. Being same-sex attracted was a crime and a mental illness in those days and so many talented people killed themselves rather than be electroshocked, listed in the newspaper police blotter, and excommunicated from their communities. Back then it was thought that homosexuality was the same thing as pedophilia and that faggots wanted to get into the pants of little Timmy after baseball.

Are the Clintons capable of using identity politics, despite claiming to defend certain minorities, to defame and slander opponents? Ask Barack Obama about South Carolina in 2008. Are they capable of sliming men who have sex with men as engaging in devious behavior with minor children? Ask Anita Hill about Clinton lieutenant David Brock. Or anyone in Washington about Sidney Blumenthal. These are the sleaziest people this side of a gas station rest room stocked well with Penthouse magazines.

As my work week ended Friday and I finally got to sit down for a breather at the hole-in-a-wall cafe owned by two gay guys with three children, my only true gay friend began a whole anti-Green routine with me about how I got what I wanted because I said Trump was better than Clinton in several regards, including his Russia policy. When I pointed this Russia fact out, a fact also raised by Stephen Cohen, spouse of the publisher of the Nation magazine and probably one of the saner Russia scholars in America, the fake news ideology was triggered and, as if this were THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE, the blinders went up.

I feel the most vulnerable I have in years. I have zero sense of community, security, or safety. The American “left” is nothing bigger than a gathering of intellectuals, polemicists, and agitators followed by a motley crew of religious fanatics who behave as if politics were a comic book convention. Quakers, Catholic Workers, and environmentalists make up the majority of protests I report on that are not composed of middle class union member Democrats picketing for a pay raise or lower health insurance copays. Those who were suckered into the Bernie Sanders tango are either thoroughly disillusioned with his recent endorsement of Chuck “Wall Street” Schumer or, as is the case with a substantial portion, have remained beholden to a cult of personality that now rivals that of Stalin. Even the Green Party candidate, Jill Stein, has endorsed the Russophobia via her claims in legal documents that there was “foreign” influence on the election. Adam Entous, Ellen Nakashima and Greg Miller reported in a new story for the Washington Post on December 9 that “[t]he CIA has concluded in a secret assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump win the presidency, rather than just to undermine confidence in the U.S. electoral system, according to officials briefed on the matter.” (Never mind the fact that it would make sense for the Russians to back any pro-detente candidate and the CIA has little room to speak regarding foreign interventions in elections to begin with.)

Only the candles and the soap were of German origin. They had a ghostly, opalescent similarity. The British had no way of knowing it, but the candles and the soap were made from the fat of rendered Jews and Gypsies and fairies and communists, and other enemies of the State. So it goes. -Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

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Andrew Stewart is a documentary film maker and reporter who lives outside Providence.  His film, AARON BRIGGS AND THE HMS GASPEE, about the historical role of Brown University in the slave trade, is available for purchase on Amazon Instant Video or on DVD.

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