Monday, December 12, 2005
The Hypocrisy of the McCarthyites
Senator Eugene McCarthy died the other day, and this weekend the MSM was filled with tributes to this man who energized the anti-war movement of another era. The nostalgia was palpable, but false. Most of the reporters eulogizing this man of integrity are much too young to have authentic political memories of 1968. What they "remember" is largely what they have been told. I myself, don't have much in the way of direct memories of McCarthy' campaign. I spent 1968 overseas in uniform. But I do remember my reaction when hearing of the "keep clean for Gene" movement [here], in which young anti-war activists cut their long hair, shaved their beards and moustaches, and adopted respectable modes of dress and deportment so as not to alienate middle-class voters.
These young people, these "idealists" who sanctimoniously claimed to represent "authenticity," who consistently demanded that we "tell it like it is," who railed against hypocrisy and assumed the mantle of virtue in a corrupt culture, were disguising themselves. They were pretending to be something that they were not. And why? To gain political advantage! That, it seemed to me, was the apogee of cynicism and hypocrisy. I never could take them seriously after that.
The self-serving lies, the corruption, the cynicism, the double standards -- all the things that make the Left so repulsive today -- they were all there from the beginning.
Speaking of Hitchens, he has a fond memory of McCarthy that makes it clear that the Senator was a much better man than many of those who rallied to his cause. Read it here.