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Wednesday, June 3, 2020

“Have You No Sense of Decency?”

The question that came to my mind at 3 a.m., words so memorably uttered by attorney Joseph Welch in 1954, when the infamous McCarthy hearings, a.k.a. witch hunt, had gone on already for far too long. If you’re too young to remember it (and I was too young at the time to pay attention), what happened was that Senator McCarthy’s demagoguery had until that moment run virtually unchecked, as he whipped the country into a state of hysteria over suspected “internal enemies.” In the course of those Senate hearings, McCarthy destroyed reputations and sometimes lives. He must have felt all-powerful and thought nothing could stop him. Then one lawyer uttered the fateful words:

Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty, or your recklessness.  
  I beg your pardon. Let us not assassinate this lad further, Senator. 
  You've done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?

To read the long exchange between McCarthy and Welch, from which these lines are excerpted and which I recommend you read in full, find it hereNow look at our country today in May 2020, through the lens of 1954

I want to ask all Americans who continue to support the man in the White House, a man who has demonstrated every day since his campaign that he has no sense of decency and who becomes only worse every day, in these difficult, difficult times when we need real leadership:

“Have you no sense of decency? Have you no conscience? Would you sacrifice your country to allow this national shame to continue?”

My parents were Republicans. My mother and I voted for John Kasich in the primary of 2016. (I should note that my father had been dead for several years and thus voted for no one.) No, I am not a registered Republican, but I wanted to vote against the man who won the nomination, in hopes he could be stopped before the race began. I could have lived with a President Kasich. What we have now is intolerable.

If the Republican Party is not to become one of the sorriest footnotes in American history, it is time for party members, especially those in the Senate, to get their act together and to renounce this man as candidate for re-election, to show the country that they have not utterly sold their souls for what can only be short-term political gain.


BB-Idaho said...

McCarthy and Trump are peas in the pod of demagoguery. Writer B.C. Bailey notes:
"Since the rise of Donald Trump in US politics, the word “demagogue” has been widely used in the press to describe him. It’s a controversial term, as one person’s demagogue can be another person’s inspirational leader. The word itself comes from the Greek word dema, meaning “people,” and gogue, meaning “leader.” In modern usage, it refers to someone who appeals to emotions and prejudices to further their own political ends.The troubling issue with demagogues is that not only do they distort logic and truth, but they stir up the masses and sow deep divisions in society. The black and white thinking and hostile rhetoric toward the “other” that they encourage is damaging to the fabric of society and critical thought."
IMO, there are startling resemblances to the rise of Fascism in 1930s
Germany: a simmering anger among people waiting for some leader who
will blame "the other". We should have, perhaps did, note the precursor 'John the Baptist' types- Limbaugh, Hannity et. al. and considered the fevered irrational call ins on their fetid broadcasts.
Who ever even considered a tyranny of the minority?

P. J. Grath said...

Some people who call themselves conservatives (and I'd love to figure out what that means these days) say they are tired of hate, meaning that they are tired of people hating the president. Well, I'm tired of the president hating Democrats, hating journalist, hating even Republicans if they disagree with him. I'm tired of the disgrace he has brought on the office of president and on this country. But the fanaticism of true believers may run its course, like any other deadly contagion. And when the fever abates, Americans will shake their heads in disbelief and go back to living together as best they can -- maybe not as loving neighbors in every instance, but at least not as warring armies. This is our country, all of ours. It is those who would divide us who are the enemy of democracy, freedom -- and, yes, decency.

Thanks for your thoughts, BB. Not sure I spoke to them directly, but I think we understand one another.

Anonymous said...

This blog is the work of an agitator first, nihilist leftist next, and lastly a book enthusiast. Why not quote Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel directly? Go ahead, you can be The Master, and I'll be The Slave!

P. J. Grath said...

Dear Mr. or Ms. Anonymous,

Thank you for reading and commenting. Your name-calling of me is out of order, but I understand that you are exercising your freedom of speech, and I suspect you are also very upset about things that have nothing to do with me. I am very far from being a nihilist! If you have the patience to read a little more and any interest in what I believe, this link will tell you quite a bit:

As for being a follower of Hegel, he was #2 on my Bad Dreams of Philosophy list. (First place went to Nietzsche.) When I told one of my friends how upset I was while reading Hegel and gave her my reasons, she exclaimed, "Now I'm mad at Hegel, too!"

As for being a leftist, I am enough left of center that I believe there should be a few restraints on capitalism, namely in the fields of banking, education, and health care.

And the reason I have taken on the headaches of being a single-owner-operator of a small business is that I want to be no one's master and no one's slave. In a humorous light, you might say I have been my own slave-driver for 27 years.

I don't know if you will see this response to your comment. I hope you do. I hope you are not one who simply shoots from the door and slams it on your way out and considers the conversation over. That is my hope. You see, I have hope -- not the mark of a nihilist. :)

Mr G said...

Well said Pamela.
Mr anonymous certainly doesn't know you.

BB-Idaho said...

Having bounced around (and sometimes been kicked off) the profane blogs of pure political hate, I feel qualified to inform you that there are hundreds of thousands of 'Anonymous' commenters. Invariably, their banality, tunnel vision and inane screed is
hidden, either as Anon or some fictional name. I have gotten to
consider the Anonymous Crowd as non existant-too ashamed of their
own words to identify themselves. Your 'Anon', I must admit, avoids
profanity and scatology: perhaps a step in the direction of decency.
'nihilist leftist' seems a term invented by the people at Breitbart
and Reddit to describe most of us.

P. J. Grath said...

Steve and BB, I always appreciate having you as readers not afraid to identify yourselves!

P. J. Grath said...

I'm coming back to apologize for having used the master-slave language introduced here by Anonymous. In his and my own defense, I'll say that I took his usage as Nietzschean; however, it may have sounded American historical and offensive to some readers, and that I regret. I'm leaving my earlier comment as written but would like here to restate it to say that for 27 years as my own boss, I have worked myself like a rented mule.

P.S. There was some easing up on the mule last summer, and that ease-up may accelerate this year, because the old grey mule, she ain't what she used to be.

Anonymous said...

I'm the Anonymous of June 4th, and it's my content that matters, not my category. Your Masters want you enslaved in circular rhetoric, which you are only so happy to oblige. You've bought into a very relativistic vision of the future of Liberty and Freedom based on absolute truth(s) in/of the USA, always trading yourselves down. Today you've traded affirmative action for revolution.

The roots may lie in the philosophies of Hegel, Nietsche, Lenin, Marx, or perhaps in 13 century Germany/Azerbaijan Ashkenazi movement. Whatever the root, I's so very curious how & why a tiny book seller, her artist, & followers - and cult drum circle, relentlessly enslaven themselves to what they believe to be their monolith.

P. J. Grath said...

Anonymous, if I could understand your content, I would respond to it. (Not sure what you mean by category. Did I attempt to categorize you? How?) All I read in your comments, however, is a litany of catch-phrases, names without connections made explicit (obviously, there are connections in your mind), and more name-calling. I am TINY BUT INDEPENDENT! Independent of debt, independent of corporate strait-jacket, and, above all, independent of mind. If you want to present some kind of coherent, rational argument for your assertions (still bare assertions in this followup comment), be my guest, but there's not much point in "Did not!" "Did, too!" exchanges.

Confusion is rampant! "Relativistic vision" "based on absolute truth(s)" makes no sense. If you are advocating something, you are certainly hiding your message well in a linguistic smoke screen.