Modern-day McCarthyism

By Joe Kirby, Marietta Daily Journal, October 28, 2007

There's no question that one of the biggest villains in U.S. history was Sen. Joe McCarthy, who almost single-handedly fueled the "Red Scare" of the late 1940s and early 1950s.

McCarthy's heavy-handed attacks, which relied mostly on public accusation, insinuation, guilt by association and brow-beating, eventually backfired. Though his stated goal of rooting out Communist influence in Washington and Hollywood was a worthwhile one, his methods wound up discrediting not only himself but also anti-Communism in general.

More than a half-century later, one of the strongest political epithets that many, especially on the left, can hurl at someone is to accuse them of "McCarthyism."

That's why it was so disappointing to see a respected organization like the Anti-Defamation League resorting to McCarthy-like tactics last week against, among others, MDJ columnist D.A. King of east Cobb, who writes about immigration reform and heads the Dustin Inman Society.

The New York City-based organization released a report Tuesday claiming that activists who favor curbing illegal immigration are using "hate speech" to further their cause. You can read the report by clicking on ( Rt_32/5154_32.htm.

Among those the ADL cited for using what it contends are such hateful words was King, who along with state Sen. Chip Rogers (R-Woodstock) and perhaps one or two others is most responsible for making immigration reform a front-burner issue in Georgia in the past several years.

King gave up a successful career selling insurance to become a full-time activist on the topic. His guest columns have appeared in numerous other publications around the country, including The Washington Times and the Atlanta newspaper; and he is frequently interviewed on CNN and various TV news and radio talk shows.

Claims the ADL report: "As the national debate over immigration reached a fever pitch, some mainstream advocacy groups 'reached for the playbook of hate groups' - resorting to hateful and dehumanizing stereotypes and outright bigotry to demonize immigrants."

The ADL's report was long on insinuation, but woefully short on substance.

Yes, it did include words that are troubling at first glance - a claim by the ADL that King told a Republican Party meeting in Rockdale County that illegal immigrants are here "to blow up your buildings and kill your children, you and me."

King says he was quoted correctly, both by the Rockdale Citizen newspaper in its stories on the event, and in the ADL report. But - and this is a big "but" - he explains that his comments referred not to illegal Hispanic aliens, but to terrorists, and to the 2006 report by the Homeland Security Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives. The report ((http://www.thedustininm) states in its introduction that a significant number of those crossing our southern border illegally are from countries with known terrorist ties, and states that members of Hezbollah have already entered via that route. The terror threat posed by them - not by illegal aliens - is what King says he was warning his listeners about as he briefed them about the report.

King's comment that day were quickly attacked by a spokesman for the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials, but the Rockdale newspaper's stories about the meeting confirm King's account of what he said, as did state Sen. John Douglas (R-Newton), who was there.

Thus, the ADL's report about the incident can be seen as either sloppy - or as McCarthy-style distortion.

"Deliberately taking something out of context (like the ADL did) is the same thing as lying," King said on Friday.

The ADL's report also cites a long list of grassroots anti-immigration groups like King's, then tosses in a gratuitous quote from ADL Director Abraham Foxman about the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis to make it sound as if they are somehow linked to the other groups.

It's the same kind of sly verbal trick at which McCarthy was a master.

And like most of those on the "open borders" side of the fence, Foxman's report never uses the phrase "illegal aliens," preferring to call them "undocumented"; and refers to "immigrants" when "illegal immigrants" would be more accurate. But then, that makes it easier for him to blur the issue.

The report also takes exception to groups like King's describing the illegals as part of a "horde," saying that doing so dehumanizes them. But facts are facts. There are between 15 million and 30 million illegals in this country. And if that doesn't constitute a "horde," I don't know what does.

A half-century ago, the easiest and most unscrupulous way in our part of the country to discredit a political opponent was by accusing him of favoring civil rights (although the actual accusation usually was accompanied by much more pungent language than that in this sentence). Now, the easiest and most unscrupulous way of achieving such a goal is by accusing them of racial insensitivity. And it doesn't even matter if the accusation is true. The onus is on the accused, not the accuser.

In King's case, rather than argue the facts on immigration, the ADL is trying to marginalize the messenger.

At long last, have they no sense of decency?

Joe Kirby is Editorial Page editor of the Marietta Daily Journal.

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