1952, 2008: what’s the difference?
- King George VI of England snuffed it and the present Queen Elizabeth stepped up to the throne
- Dwight D. Eisenhower became US Prez
- Stalin ruled the former USSR with an iron fist
- the hydrogen bomb was detonated for the first time
- and…in Washington….the sniffer out of “reds under beds” – Senator Joseph McCarthy, Republican from Wisconsin – whipped up a frenzy by exposing communists in government and even in the entertainment industry. A wave of anti-communism, known as McCarthyism, swept the US and even Australia. I seem to remember my father carrying on about Dr Jim Cairns and whether he had “connections” with Russia and the KGB (I never bothered to check out if he did or not!).
And what I believe is happening is that there is a new wave of McCarthyism threatening to engulf us. Consider this very famous quote by Adlai Stevenson from 1952 (US politician):
“The tragedy of our day is the climate of fear in which we live, and fear breeds repression. Too often sinister threats to the bill of rights, to freedom of the mind, are concealed under the patriotic cloak, of anti-communism.”
Now, just strike out “anti-communism” and replace with “war on terror”. I was reading a book about US history that covered the McCarthy era and it struck me that there’s not much difference between 1952 and 2008: fear of Communists has simply been replaced by fear of terrorists.