Part Seven Of “Catholic Power: Irish American Politics” Series
Joe McCarthy has become one of the most hated men in American history.
His opponents successfully thwarted his efforts and destroyed his legacy. His critics have portrayed him as an obnoxious bully who exploited the threat of communism for political goals.
More recently however, historians have discovered the facts and uncovered the truth about McCarthy.
According to Jewish author Aviva Weingarten, 79 of the 124 people questioned by McCarthy’s Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs in 1952 were Jews.
Gallup polls from 1951-54 show that 83% of Jews had a negative view of McCarthy.
Therefore, the Jewish media led the false attacks against McCarthy which eventually discredited his message.
In 1950, Jewish journalist Hebert Block created the term “McCarthyism”. He worked for the Washington Post and sketched political cartoons like this, which mocked McCarthy
In 1952, Jewish journalist Hank Greenspun tried to create a rumor that McCarthy was a homosexual. However, many newspapers refused to print this myth and most historians admit this rumor was entirely false.
In 1954, the creator of Mad magazine, Jewish journalist Harvey Kurtzman sketched a political cartoon titled “What’s My Shine”, which mocked McCarthy.
Later that year, Jewish comedian Stan Freberg recorded a political skit called “Pont of Order”, which was a parody of McCarthy’s hearings.
Jewish folk musician Joe Glazer also recorded “Joe McCarthy’s Band”, a satire song which mocked McCarthy and his followers.
Despite these attacks, McCarthy never backed down and continued his crusade against Jewish communism.
McCarthy “was a strictly observant Catholic who rarely missed mass. Friends would remember him breaking off fishing trips or speaking tours on Sunday in order to find a nearby parish for services.”
He was born on a farm in Grand Chute, Wisconsin, the fifth of seven children. His mother, was from County Tipperary, Ireland and his father was Irish/Geman.
When he was 14, McCarthy dropped out of school to help his parents manage their farm. Later when he was 20, he entered Little Wolf High School, in Manawa, Wisconsin and graduated in one year.
McCarthy earned a law degree at Marquette University in 1935. He was admitted to the bar in and worked for a law firm in Shawano, Wisconsin. In 1939, he was elected as a circuit judge in 1939, becoming the youngest circuit judge in state history.
In 1942, McCarthy joined the United States Marine Corps, despite the fact that he was 33 years old and his judicial office exempted him from compulsory service. He became a second lieutenant after he completed basic training. Joe served on the Pacific front and flew twelve combat missions as a gunner-observer, earning the nickname of “Tail-Gunner Joe“.
Later in 1946, McCarthy was elected as a United States Senator. During his campaign, he used the slogan “Congress needs a tail-gunner“. When he first arrived in Washington, other Senators claimed he was “quick-tempered and prone to impatience, even rage”.
In 1949, McCarthy exposed the abuses against German soldiers during the Malmedy Trials. Following World War II, many teenage Waffen-SS soldiers were starved and tortured into giving false confessions for “war crimes”.
Later, the United States Senate decided to investigate and McCarthy took control of the investigation. He found all of the investigators in the Malmedy Trials were Jewish. He also questioned the witnesses aggressively and accused them of being dishonest.
McCarthy demanded that Lieutenant William R. Pearl, the main investigator of the Malmedy Trials, should be forced to take a lie detection test. Pearl was a Jewish immigrant, who fled to America before the war. When the other Senators refused to support his demand, McCarthy stormed out and declared the hearings were a cover-up.
McCarthy tried to denounce the investigation in Congress but was ignored by the other senators. Shortly after this, a poll of the Senate press corps voted McCarthy “the worst U.S. senator”.
The next year however, McCarthy gave a historic speech that continued his mission to expose the truth. On February 9, 1950, McCarthy gave a Lincoln Day speech to the Republican Women’s Club of Wheeling, West Virginia. During the speech, McCarthy allegedly claimed:
“The State Department is infested with communists. I have here in my hand a list of 205—a list of names that were made known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist Party and who nevertheless are still working and shaping policy in the State Department.”
This speech soon attracted a flood of press interest in McCarthy. Later that month, the United States Senate created the Tydings Committee to conduct “a full and complete study and investigation as to whether persons who are disloyal to the United States are, or have been, employed by the Department of State“.
Many of McCarthy’s opponents were furious and hoped to use the hearings to discredit him. Senator Millard Tydings, the Democratic chairman of the subcommittee, was reported to have said, “Let me have him for three days in public hearings, and he’ll never show his face in the Senate again.” The Tydings Report claimed McCarthy was a “fraud and a hoax”, trying to “confuse and divide the American people.”
However, McCarthy continued accuse the government of dealing with Communism within its ranks. These accusations received wide publicity, which increased his popularity among Catholics and gave him a powerful national following.
During this era, Catholics were the strongest base of anti-Communism in America. McCarthy was defended by diocesan newspapers and Catholic journals. Although most Catholics were Democrats at this time, they supported McCarthy and believed he was a hero.
McCarthy also established a close relationship with Joe Kennedy and the Kennedy family. McCarthy was a frequent guest at their home in Hyannis Port and dated two of his daughters, Patricia Kennedy and Eunice Kennedy. He was also very good friends with John F. Kennedy and was named godfather to Robert F. Kennedy’s first child, Kathleen Kennedy.
In 1953, McCarthy was made chairman of the Senate Committee on Government Operations. He used his new position to investigate Communists in the government. His methods also brought on the disapproval and opposition of many senators. They claimed he was using communism to attack his critics and political opponents.
Early in 1954, the U.S. Army accused McCarthy of illegally pressuring them. McCarthy claimed these accusations were made in retaliation for his questioning of Communists within their ranks. The Senate held six weeks of hearings to resolve the allegations, which were broadcast every night on ABC.
Although McCarthy was eventually cleared of all charges, his opponents successfully used the hearings to portray him as a reckless, dishonest bully. In a June 1 speech, Vermont Republican Senator Ralph E. Flanders even compared McCarthy to Adolf Hitler.
Months later, Flanders introduced a resolution to censure McCarthy. The resolution was initially written without any reference to particular actions or misdeeds on McCarthy’s part. Flanders explained, “It was not his breaches of etiquette, or of rules or sometimes even of laws which is so disturbing, but rather his overall pattern of behavior”.
On December 2, 1954, the Senate voted to “condemn” McCarthy by a vote of 67 to 22.
After his censure, McCarthy’s career was destroyed and he was largely ignored by the press. He declined both physically and emotionally. Numerous eyewitnesses, including Senate aide George Reedy and journalist Tom Wicker claim he was drunk in the Senate. It was also reported that McCarthy suffered from cirrhosis of the liver and was frequently hospitalized for alcoholism.
However, he continued to attack Communism. He warned against negotiations with “the Reds”, declaring that “you cannot offer friendship to tyrants and murderers … without advancing the cause of tyranny and murder.”
He claimed that “coexistence with Communists is neither possible nor honorable nor desirable. Our long-term objective must be the eradication of Communism from the face of the earth.”
McCarthy died on May 2, 1957, at the age of 48. He was given a state funeral attended by 70 senators, and a Solemn Pontifical Requiem Mass was attended by more than 100 priests and 2,000 others at St. Matthew’s Cathedral. Thousands of people viewed the body in Washington.
Later, he was buried in St. Mary’s Parish Cemetery, Appleton, Wisconsin, where more than 30,000 filed through St. Mary’s Church to pay their last respects.
In 1999, Catholic write Joe Sorban wrote:
“History is replete with the lesson that a country in which the Jews get the upper hand is in danger. Such was the experience of Europe during Jewish-led Communist revolutions in Russia, Hungary, Romania, and Germany after World War I. Christians knew that Communism — often called “Jewish Bolshevism” — would bring awful persecution with the ultimate goal of the annihilation of Christianity.”
God bless Joe McCarthy, the man who sacrificed himself and tried to save us.
This article is part six of the “Catholic Power: Irish American Politics” series:
Introduction: Jett and Jahn Media Presents “Catholic Power: Irish American Politics”
Al Smith: New York Governor
Father Charles Coughlin: Catholic Fascism?
John Fitzgerald: Boston Mayor
Joe Kennedy: America’s Royal Family?
James Michael Curley: Massachusetts Governor
Frank Hague: Jersey City Mayor
Joe McCarthy: Wisconsin Senator
John F. Kennedy: United States President
Richard J. Daley: Chicago Mayor
Martin P. Mullen: Pennsylvania State Congressman
Conclusion: Modern Catholics & Politics