Before I explain what it was like to become friends with the pre-eminent McCarthy scholar of our time, M. Stanton Evans, I’d like to point out some of the pitfalls of the territory, starting with the anti-McCarthy tripwire.
This relic of the Cold War, circa 1950s, is used to bring down anyone even thinking about stepping out of line to reconsider the place of Sen. McCarthy in our nation’s history (hell). The anti-McCarthy tripwire is the first trigger. Tripped once, maybe twice, it activates the anti-McCarthy force field, which I will get to below.
“You know that you are going to be attacked,” Stan said to me in the fall of 2012 on reading the manuscript of American Betrayal, which, building on the research in Blacklisted by History, takes as a given that McCarthy is the most demonized man in American history to whom the nation now owes plaudits and apologies galore — and moves on from there. It is not an exaggeration to say that American Betrayal is first an homage to Blacklisted by History. Not surprisingly, I think it reads as a companion piece to the 2012 book Stan and the late Herbert Romerstein wrote as a follow-up to the McCarthy book — Stalin’s Secret Agents: The Subversion of Roosevelt’s Government. For these reasons, this Amazon “Frequently Bought Together” box is very pleasing to the junior author.
“Attacked? So what!” I replied. Stan liked that. He sometimes even told people I’d said it. Neither of us quite imagined what was coming, even if “so what” still very much applies. (It was not a “tripwire” but a dirty bomb, but that’s another story.)
Even when the anti-McCarthy tripwire doesn’t actually cut the dissident fleeing the gulag of enforced “correctness” (provenance in Marxism-Leninism) to his knees, it has an effect. It almost invariably dampens his enthusiasm for next time. Is it really worth all that unpleasantness and hassle? Better to avoid the “McC” subject altogether — as we will see in the environs of the anti-McCarthy force field — than to become caught in the tongue-lashings of some anti-McCarthy enforcer.
Such calculations, however, do not deter the unbowed Fraternity of `So What?’, which I hope to get to another time.
I was reminded this past week just how hair-trigger-sensitive the anti-McCarthy trip wire remains after the appearance of an appreciation of Stan and his monumental McCarthy biography at Pajamas Media by J. Christian Adams. What is notable in this instance is that Adams’ nice, short piece includes only mild praise of McCarthy himself — “In short, McCarthy was more right than wrong.” Not exactly red flags and fightin’ words, but especially not, a normal person would think, in this immediate aftermath of Stan’s death following a long struggle with pancreatic cancer. Funeral arrangements for Stan had yet to be made, however, and there was ex-Communist historian a.k.a.“Serial McCarthy Critic” a.k.a. “the Learned Professor” Radosh, asserting in the comments section below the Adams piece:
Stan Evans was a lovely man, outgoing, warm and sincere. The problem is that on Joe McCarthy, he was wrong, as is J. Christian Adams. I urge readers to consider the argument by Harvey Klehr, updated at Frontpagemag.com.
Such obituary-heckling is shocking but, as I can attest, this boorish breach of common decency actually counts as pretty good behavior for Radosh. Still, time will tell whether Adams decides to drive deeper into McCarthy territory.
Read more of Diana West’s work at Breitbart here.