Live

Watch CBSN Live

Column: Republican 'anti-American' Rhetoric Reeks Of McCarthyism

This story was written by Natalie Hein, Daily Bruin


In 1954, Wisconsin Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy proclaimed to the American public, which was paralyzed by the fear of the eminent spread of communism, that famed CBS news reporter Edward R. Murrow was a promoter of communist propaganda.

In a similar fear-churned political climate 54 years later, Republican presidential candidate John McCain and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin have been slurring their opponent, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, with claims that he has worked closely with terrorists.

These fear-mongering scenarios are chillingly similar.

Today, Murrow is considered by many to be one of the most respectable figures in the history of American broadcast journalism. Conversely, the term McCarthyism stirs up anti-freedom anxiety in many modern-day Americans. So why is the McCain/Palin camp so quick to revert to the scare tactics of the heavily critiqued McCarthy period? Recent political developments are proving the pro-America rhetoric of the Republican Party to be anything but American.

Its completely backward for anyone to accuse Obama, a man vying to be the leader of the free world, of seeing the world as so imperfect that hes palling around with terrorists who would target their own country. This comment by Palin in reference to Obamas past work with Bill Ayers, a political activist and domestic terrorist during the 60s and 70s, did not stand up to further scrutiny. Obama identified Ayers as somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago, when I was 8, and someone who he has not recently been close to, nor someone he has ever shared radical terrorist opinions with.

Therefore, an empty comment such as Palins reveals that in this presidential election, the Republican Party is trying to paint Obama as an anti-American enemy by donning him with false titles.

Their hope is that the ignorant fear of the electorate will play out as it initially did for McCarthy in falsely labeling upstanding Americans as communists. McCain and Palin should note that McCarthys anti-patriot crusade ultimately failed.

The partys rhetoric has been implying that we Angelenos are un-American as well. Palins reference to small towns being the real America implies that big cities such as Los Angeles are unpatriotic.

But Americas big cities contain most of its diversity. So if you live in a big city, and you tolerate those from different backgrounds, and you have independent thoughts, and you appreciate the cultural diversity of a metropolitan area, youre not a real American?

America prides itself on being the land of the free, the great melting pot. These descriptions indicate freedom of expression and diversity. The United States was once a dream home for people of any nation to come to be considered valuable and equal. Yet the current rhetoric has divided the nation. It has pointed out that a candidate can be slurred just for his racial background or middle name (Hussein), and that Americans who dont hold guns or Wal-Mart on high arent truly American.

In a shocking and ironic political development, it seems as if the perpetuation of these ideas is as un-American as it gets: The Washington Post broke a story Wednesday about an endorsement of McCain on a password-protected al-Qaeda Web site, al-Hesbah. The endorsement pointed out that four more years of pro-America rhetoric would continue to increase recruitment to anti-American and terrorist organizations. An election of McCain would also guarantee our occupation in the Middle East for an indefinite period of time, continuing a war that has exhausted (Americas) resources and bankrupted its economy, according to the author of the posting, Muhammad Haafid. McCains party is dealing out just what the terrorists ordered.

Clearly, the more the Republican Party employs hateful rhetoric, singles out Muslim groups as terrorists and tries to associate good Americans with groups that presumably threaten American freedom, the more the rest of the world has a sincere reason to hate us. The cycle of pro-American rhetoric fueling anti-American sentiments is counterproductive, and it is time for the country to work together to replace this cycle with wiser diplomatic approaches.

If, somehow, we are duped again and McCain wins, we must be sure to put an end to this sneaky, hateful and truly anti-American language that has, over the past eight years, propelled America into a disastrous war, conjured up ignorant fear of Islamic groups and tarnished our international image.

The person who will occupy the most influential armchair in the nation should be one of great integrity and unifying action, not one who reverts to the tactics of the Red Scare for the present day.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue