Are Putin Critics The New Joseph McCarthy?
On 4/6/2022, a fellow named Collin Robinson responded to my article “Anti-Anti-Putin Is The New Pro-Putin,” by saying the following:
I agree with Peter Beinart about this. I’m not impressed by those who call other people “traitors” because they are allegedly repeated talking points of Vladimir Putin. In the early years of the Cold War Senator Joe McCarthy called people traitors because they weren’t sufficiently anti-Communist. Do you think Joe McCarthy was right then, Ephrom?
First off, can we talk about how loaded the question Collin asked me was? No, obviously I do not think the actions of Joseph McCarthy — the well known egotist and compulsive liar who formed a cult of personality around himself which started the second red scare — to be right. Even ignoring the questions about Joseph McCarthy’s tactics, McCarthy could not keep his story straight because everything about it was utterly nonsensical. The state department had already done multiple purges of former communists long before McCarthy claimed he had a list of over two hundred members — a list that was actually a letter to President Truman which did not mention the word “communism” — meaning McCarthy had nothing to base his claims off of. For fuck sake, McCarthy was such an idiot that even when he actually stumbled into targeting someone who was actually a spy for the Soviet Union — that being Mary Jane Keeney — he never once accused her of spying, only having left-wing political views. McCarthy also had nothing to do with the two major captures of actual Soviet spies that happened during his time, those being Alger Hiss (who was brought down by HUAC) and the Rosenberg's (who was brought down by the same Truman administration that McCarthy accused of being soft on communism). This was because McCarthy wasn’t actually interested in stopping communists in the United States, he was interested in growing a cult of personality above all else (it was him who actually coined the term “McCarthyism,” through a book he published that was a collection of his speeches called McCarthyism: The Fight For America).
I mention this because, despite Collin’s claims, it is not me who has the most in common with Joseph McCarthy, but the people I talked about. Throughout the article, I talked about people using an invisible enemy they have greatly exaggerated the power of as something we must not give into or else our country will fall. In the case of the anti-anti-Putin crowd, this invisible enemy is a group of people who are going to engage in regime change in Russia and lock up critics under accusations of treason. Just like how Americans were told during the Red Scare that we must focus our efforts against the Soviet Union or else a nuclear war will break out and the United States will fall to communism, Americans are being told now that we must take a firm stance against Putin’s critics.
My major issue with McCarthy is the same as my major issue with the anti-anti-Putin crowd: The enemy they’re fighting, commonly, does not actually exist. They are fear mongering, lying, and doing everything they can to control the narrative in the most untrue fashion possible. They are intimidating those who want to speak out against Putin by saying they’re trying to cause a third world war — and possibly a nuclear one.
To put this another way: I have nothing against people who are not as anti-Putin as I am, I do have something against those who believe that I cannot be anti-Putin without pushing some hidden agenda.