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The Return of the Witch-Hunters

Justin Raimondo on the latest round of neo-McCarthyism.

During the “Brown Scare” of the 1930s, epitomized by the Dickstein “Special Committee” and the literary career of Carlson/Derounian, the cooperation of the Justice Department, Hoover’s G-men, and the left-wing “extremist”-hunting groups, such as the “Friends of Democracy,” and the investigatory arm of the Anti-Defamation League, was such that the “privateers” might have been considered a third arm of law enforcement – “private” police agencies whose task it was to provide the official agencies with vital leads as well as buttress support for the witch-hunt among the people. And, as Thomas E. Mahl documents in Desperate Deception: British Covert Operations in the United States, 1939-1944, foreign intelligence agencies played a key role in the campaign to demonize war opponents. The KGB, acting through its American agents, principally the Communist Party, were hard at work directing and subsidizing the “anti-fascist” fight to pass Lend-Lease Act, get the US involved in the war, and save the “worker’s fatherland.”

The same pattern emerged, albeit in reverse, when the cold war froze US-Soviet relations and the commie-hunters took center stage. The professional anti-communists, many of them ex-Communists of one sort or another, created a cottage industry out of their disillusionment: they wrote books, went on lecture tours, set up a multitude of organizations, and made lucrative careers out of the cause. Their ultimate goal, to get on the government payroll, was achieved in all too many instances.

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