As I related here this morning, if you listened to Donald Trump’s ISIS speech Monday night, you heard the voice of Joe McCarthy. There was no real attempt to disguise it.
McCarthy was what Trump was reaching for in appealing to the anti-Communist paranoia of the 1950s. That was the time, you’ll remember, when our national motto became tainted with religion and became “In God We Trust” (1956) instead of the inclusive “Out of many, one” of the Founding Fathers, and when the Pledge of Allegiance was inflicted with “under God” (1954).
Brian Kilmeade invoked the worst of American history Tuesday morning by invoking the controversial Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 (three of the four were to be repealed under the Jefferson administration), and the McCarran Act, or The Internal Security Act of 1950, 64 Stat. 987 (Public Law 81-831). Because if you’re a Republican, there is no unsafe level of paranoia.
Take a gander courtesy of Media Matters for America, but beware of those ISIS guys hiding under your bed:
“Keep in mind, when Donald Trump brings this up, this is not new. When the communist threat was the number one threat, we did have an Alien and Sedition Act that dated back to 1798, when we were worried about going to war with France. We wanted to make sure people here weren’t against us. In the 1950s, the McClaren Act — the McCarran Act, I should say, addressed the red scare here. So, if you’re a communist, we need you to register because we’ve got to keep an eye on you, and because that was the number one threat at that time, as is Islamic extremists today.”
Kilmeade is at least right that this level of paranoia is not new, but its age hardly justifies it. If age was the only prerequisite we would still be ruled by Parliament.
Harry Truman actually vetoed the McCarran Act, but his veto was overridden. As Wikipedia reminds us, Truman called it “the greatest danger to freedom of speech, press, and assembly since the Alien and Sedition Laws of 1798,” a “mockery of the Bill of Rights” and a “long step toward totalitarianism.”
In those days, people like McCarthy were fearful of Commies somehow pulling off a “totalitarian dictatorship,” ironically, much like what Trump has planned today. Trump, meanwhile, in order to defend his planned totalitarian rule of thieves, is aiming for those who might want to establish a Caliphate here on our shores, as opposed to the theocracy being proposed by the Republican Party and its Religious Right pals.
Never mind that there were not enough communists then nor enough Muslims now to pull off any sort of dictatorship, ideological or religious. The Founders overreacted to the French because of the excesses of the French revolution, fearful that a like revolution would overthrow our young republic, and the same paranoia was present in the 1950s and today. All of it is unfounded.
A fifth column has never been the #1 threat in America. It was not then and it is not now. Trump appealed to the worst of our instincts Monday and Kilmeade is pushing the same fear today. It isn’t true, and it isn’t right, and destroying our freedoms in order to protect them seem a curious – and yet to be explained – form of patriotism.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.