Most of you know that I am a big fan of James Loewen, author of Lies My Teacher Told Me. In that book, he discusses how American History is taught using a number of poor methods and concepts. One such concept is heroification. He uses the excellent example of President Woodrow Wilson, a figure who is regarded in most history textbooks as a hero. In fact, President Wilson was probably the biggest bigot our country had ever seen, overturning decades of progress made by the Republicans in respect to rights and advancement of African Americans. The image of Wilson by our nation is one of the many great lies in our country's history.
Another great lie is one that got started by Ann Coulter and is now policy according to the Texas State Board of Education. Essentially, it's this: Joe McCarthy was a hero. Coulter said:
Everything you think you know about McCarthy is a hegemonic lie. Liberals denounced McCarthy because they were afraid of getting caught, so they fought back like animals to hide their own collaboration with a regime as evil as the Nazis.
Caught in what, exactly? Oh yes, that's right...anyone to the left of the Cult is a commie. Got it. It's also amusing that she brings up hegemony. The raison d'etre of the Cult is control through blind consensus. Once again, we see the Rove in action.
But this view of McCarthy is exactly what Texas school children are now going to learn...how he was a hero fighting against (in his own words) the treasonous Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower. They will learn of a US government filled with dirty, stinking Commies many of whom "got away" and remained in power...in the form of the Democratic party. None of this, of course, is even close to being grounded in reality.
Coming a few years after we defeated the greatest army and threat the world had ever seen, McCarthy accused the Democrats of "twenty years of treason." He added twenty one after Eisenhower refused to acquiesce to McCarthy's demands. His paranoia knew no bounds as he went after the United States military. In one hearing he called Brigadier General Ralph W. Zicker, a WWII battlefield hero, a "five year old child not fit to wear the uniform." Ironic, considering McCarthy's outright lying about his own military record. His investigations into the US military turned the tide of public opinion well against him and his rampant alcoholism began to show in his Senate floor speeches. In fact, his constant changing numbers of how many communists were in the US government from the very beginning were evidence enough of his severe impairment and inability to think clearly.
None of this matters to that chapter of the Cult that has now changed the curriculum in Texas and perhaps nationwide. Commies were everywhere (ahh!!!!!!! look out...he looks funny...commie!!!) and still are. No matter that McCarthy was shown to be a liar very early on..he said pretty things so we loves him:) One need only spend a few minutes reading McCarthy's quotes to see that he was, in a myriad of ways, a founding father (along with Richard Nixon) of the Cult playbook. Say it and it's true...attack your opponent with what is, in fact, your greatest weakness (see the forthcoming comments below for what will be excellent examples of this), ignore facts, think with your guts and, above all, distrust anyone who doesn't think EXACTLY like you do. Joe McCarthy spawned the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin. It's no wonder they are fighting tooth and nail to re-imagine him in history. All three of them, as well as the Cult, are still paranoid about Commies (ahh!!! Commies!!!) even years after communism FAILED and whatever remnants are left (save North Korea) are embracing capitalism or some quasi form of it.
I stated previously that I am nauseated by the clear heroification of McCarthy. Honestly, that's not much redeemable about him. Rarely do secondary school texts get it right when it comes to wrongdoing but the American Pageant does in their McCarthy entry. I wonder how many of the facts listed there will be completely left out. Ah well, no matter. Anyone critical of a Cult forefather is a lying Commie which would include yours truly. Cue the red herring of Venona.
As an educator, I am tasked to present the basic facts of what happened in any historical period. To leave out McCarthy's lying, alcoholism, assault on civil liberties, and attacks on distinguished members of the military like George Marshall would be historically dishonest. It would be like showing the happy go lucky side of Stalin and skip over the whole gulag thing. Stalin was an asshole who murdered people. McCarthy was an asshole who destroyed people's lives due to a psychosis that forced an ideology on people. This ideology has now morphed into a faux critical thinking devoid of reality.
Yet I would still be more interested, given all of the facts about McCarthy and what the Cult will now be teaching in Texas, what my students think about Joe McCarthy and why. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter what my view is or what the Texas School Board's view is regarding McCarthy. It matters what they think and how they evaluate the facts.
Since close to 5 million students in Texas and perhaps more nation wide will be missing key facts, critical thinking skills have been hijacked. And that's the real fucking travesty.