By the time Barack Hussein Obama took the oath of office the following January and ever since that momentous occasion, the Tea Party and like-minded souls, including politicians, have been frothing at the mouth over the audacity of a black man sitting in the "White" House. The religious right has used Bible verses to advocate his assassination and Christian churches have proudly flaunted their hate on their message boards.
Not to be overlooked, of course, is Fox News and right-wing sites such as Newsmax and Red State. Probably just as insidious, but often ignored, are those bogus chain emails which fly from one recipient to another in rapid-fire order.
As despicable, as offensive and as reprehensible as all this is, and yes - as unpatriotic and unchristian as it is - none of this has been as alarming as the specter of another McCarthy era raising its ugly head. But Rep. Allen West (Florida), Lou Dobbs and right-wing blogs are all marching to the drumbeat of an evil but bygone era and doing their best to resurrect its ghost.
First, let's look at this glorified dandy Allen West, who not only accuses the president of being a "low-level socialist agitator" but warns constituents that at least 81 congressional members of the "Democrat" party are communists. Not only is he stealing a scene from Joe-I-have-a-list-McCarthy, he's echoing the John Birch Society's false claims that the Eisenhower Administration was infiltrated by Communists.
Surely, there are Republicans who are familiar with that unspeakably bleak time in our history and its dire impact on the lives of private citizens as well as government officials. Surely, they remember William F. Buckley's condemnation of Robert Welsh and Edward R. Murrow's extraordinary denouncement of McCarthy on See It Now. Why have they not loudly and forcefully condemned West's contemptible comments? Have they moved so far to the right that they have lost any and all semblance of courage and honor? Or is their sound of silence a sign of tacit approval?
While we no longer have a Buckley or Murrow, we do have Bill Moyers, a journalist with the same high level of integrity, the same grasp of facts , the same historical perspective, and the same kind of grit - but without all the fanfare and cheap theatrics seen by far too many of today's commentators. In a hard-hitting April 26 broadcast, he minces no words as he condemns West and the "contemptible thugs in American politics."
In a no less insidious McCarthy-like tactic - which would be alarming, if it weren't so damn laughable - is the right-wing's attack on Obama's new campaign theme: Forward. Cowardly Lou Dobbs proclaims, "I'm not saying anybody is a communist," but Obama's 2012 slogan "Forward," is tied to communists and fascists. Right.