I recently saw a government film from the McCarthy era called "How To Spot A Communist." It showed someone reading the Daily Worker, a man criticising the government for spending too much on the military, and a group of protesting marchers. A voice concluded, "If he looks like a Communist, talks like a Communist and acts like a Communist, then he is a Communist. It's your duty to report him to the FBI."
Today I read that the president "has ordered federal employees to report suspicious actions of their colleagues" so "security investigations can be launched into those showing indicators of insider threat behavior." Anyone who has been in the workplace can tell you about the cliques that form, and of the inevitable back-stabbing that goes on. It's a non-ending battle with somebody constantly jostling for position.
Because of just such obsessive fear, in the 1950s I saw professors thrown out of universities, teachers barred from classrooms, writers chased into exile, and the lives of countless others haunted to the point of ruin. Mail was opened, phones were tapped, homes were searched and lists of suspects drawn up.
It would appear that we as a people have not matured, and once again we stand to be led down a path of phobic self-destruction. I worry that in the land of the blind the one-eyed man can again become king. Think Germany, circa 1932.
John Bell Smithback