"Senator Joseph McCarthy was an American hero." -- those are words that would be banned in a world run by liberals. His "witch hunt" in the early 1950s spawned the word "McCarthyism" which has become synonymous with any government action to suppress unfavorable political and/or social views.
The story nobody hears but many try to tell is one of a man who grew up on a farm, became a lawyer through years of hard work, resigned from the bench to fight in the war, defeated a four-term incumbent Senator to reach Washington, and led the most unpopular campaign in this country's history. The campaign I speak of, which gained him worldwide acclaim and disdain, is his fight against Communist subversion in the American political and social systems.
To make it easy, for there are books detailing his life and career in detail, I'll describe some of his most heroic accomplishments. In his childhood, he was forced to drop out of junior high school to help on the family farm. However, when the necessary work was complete, he resumed and completed his studies in high school education in just one year. He moved on to study engineering and gained a law degree from Marquette Law School in 1935.
When World War II kicked into full gear, McCarthy was three years into his judgeship on the 10th District Court (where in 1939 he became the youngest judge in Wisconsin history). He nevertheless resigned from the bench in 1942 and enlisted in the Marine Corps, later earning a commission as Lieutenant. His judicial office would have exempted him from service, but that didn't stop a man from answering the call of a nation in its time of need. McCarthy served as an intelligence briefing officer and flew eleven recorded missions as an aerial photographer and tail gunner. He was commended by Admiral Chester Nimitz and awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross in 1952, even though opponents question the Navy's decision to award it to him.
(Rarely questioned is LBJ's receipt of a Silver Star, the military's third-highest medal, for flying one mission and being shot at. The plane he was in suffered no terrible damage and his team arrived back at base after completing the mission safely. Nevertheless, LBJ played off his brief stint in the military as loudly and publicly as he could after returning home. McCarthy did nothing of the sort, knowing there were many men far more worthy of praise than he.)
McCarthy decided to attempt a run at the U.S. Senate while still a member of the armed forces in 1944, losing to an incumbent Republican. However, after resigning commission in 1945, he set out on a mission to unseat four-term Wisconsin icon Robert M. La Follette Jr. The campaign could be described as dirty, but I prefer to call McCarthy's actions clever. He pointed out that La Follette didn't enlist in the armed forces, but it was shown that he was too old to join up even at the time Pearl Harbor was bombed. Later, McCarthy accused his opponent of war profiteering, but La Follette's affairs were clean (he had invested in a radio station). McCarthy won the race by a mere two-point margin, and his critics attribute that to his unfounded accusations. But in all reality and fairness, if they were truly unfounded then it shouldn't have been difficult to disprove them.
McCarthy became famous for his anti-Communism in 1950, following a Lincoln Day speech to the Republican Women's Club of Wheeling, West Virginia. He claimed to have a list of 57 "known Communists" out of 205 members of the State Department who should not have been working there (these figures were much disputed in later years, whether he meant 57 Communists or 205). He was repeatedly investigated and many attempted to smear him, but he remained a popular national figure nonetheless.
In the 1990s, decrypted Soviet cables known as the VENONA project were declassified. The cables referenced 349 citizens, immigrants, etc. living in the United States that were members of a massive underground Communist conspiracy to steal information from the U.S. and relay it to the leaders of the Soviet Union. Several of the people McCarthy listed in 1950 were incriminated by VENONA, but nobody will ever give him credit for this.
Indeed, his methods were unorthodox and his actions were many times cruel. He was a drinker and suspected morphine addict, but he was always a patriot. He devoted his life, and destroyed it, trying to uncover a massive conspiracy to destroy the country he loved. For his actions he was vilified and today, McCarthyism is one of the most recognizably negative terms when referancing government actions. It remains so popular, in fact, that a LexisNexis search of major newspapers uncovered 47 articles in the past six months mentioning the term at least once. The articles range from local politics to international affairs, including an instance in Israel concerning the "purging" of Sharon loyalists from the Likud Party.
McCarthy never sought fame and fortune, he simply fought for his beliefs. He didn't do it eloquently; he did it forcefully. He will eternally be remembered as a man who destroyed innocent lives, but he may never be vindicated. This man was a hero and a patriot who fought bravely in wartime, as well as peacetime. May he rest in peace, knowing that there are still a few of us who know the truth about his honorable fight to protect us from Communism.