It has fallen upon me recently to educate media types about the dark period of American life after WWII called the Red Scare. For example, there was the writer of an article in a California magazine who regularly called the House Committee on Un-American Activities (usually referred to as HUAC) the “House Committee on Un-American Affairs,” a minor quibble, perhaps. Then there was a writer in a left-wing British magazine who claimed that the egregious Senator Joseph McCarthy was the harasser of Hollywood, when it was the above-referenced HUAC that was the culprit. McCarthy mainly took aim at alleged communists in government. Worst of all was the confusion by a writer of a book on cabaret who seemed to have no idea that Congress is a bi-cameral institution; he had Senator McCarthy in charge of the House of Representatives committee.
I have received no acknowledgements from the first two periodicals. The book writer I did not try to reach, deeming him a hopeless case, as his tome was so chock-full of errors that I stopped reading early on.
I bring all this up as it seems we’re into a new chapter of the Red Scare—with a strange twist. Republicans—politicos and shleppers—have been shouting recently about communists, but with a bizarre choice of alleged reds. For example, the 2012 Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney:
Mitt Romney has been under fire from Republicans for quite some time over his condemnation of Donald Trump. At a state party convention Saturday in Utah, Mitt Romney was booed while taking the stage, shortly before a failed bid to censure him for voting to convict Donald Trump.
According to The Salt Lake Tribune, some called Romney a “traitor” and a “communist.”*
It had never occurred to me before that the GOP had once been promoting a commie as leader of their party.
Another recent example of this Republican obsession with finding reds is found in a New York Times article about cherries, of all things. Mask-wearing and politics have divided a Michigan community, leading to a split having to do with who shops at what cherry stand. The Times tells us that a kook named Randy Bishop, “sometimes called the ‘Rush Limbaugh of Antrim County,’ ”
will boycott King’s [one of the fruit stands] forever . . . “along with other progressive, communist business owners in this county.”**
So, in addition to looking for reds in the forefront of the Republican Party, we should beware of business owners, who, presumably, desire to have their enterprises appropriated by the state.
With the disappearance of actual communists, the word communist is devoid of substance but still loaded with powerful connotation—muy malo.
I sit here in silent hope that President Joe Biden in his Geneva conversation with ex-KGB apparatchik Vladimir Putin implored the Russian to resurrect the Soviet Union. That would bring real communists back into the world—and the Republicans could with truth assail Mischa in Moscow and Andrei in Arkhangelsk.