My recollection of Edward R. Murrow is hazy. I remember him best for his deep, soothing voice, his chain-smoking and his show, Person-to-Person. I remember Marilyn Monroe and Joe Dimagio (or was it Arthur Miller) showing off their home. "This is our bedroom, Ed," she said. Yikes! Heady stuff even for a five year old. Joeseph McCarthy is less memorable, a man who seemed yucky, like some evil uncle that you intuitively knew to avoid. We never did the duck and cover in elementary school. The high desert of Central Oregon was too far out in the sticks for the Russians to waste an atomic bomb. But I do remember going with my mother on crisp February mornings to the cinder block house on the ridge behind the new hospital where we watched the skies for commie bombers. We had binoculars and a flip book to identify military aircraft: Russian /Bears and American B-whatevers. My mom used the clipboard to note American aircraft. There was a black phone there, maybe to call the Strategic Air Command if we were invaded, though I suspect it would be too late by then. Everybody was a little scared then, but the real consequences seemed to fall on someone far away, so there seemed no need to take action, to stand up.
The fear inspired by McCarthy and his cronies is little different that what the neo-cons use today to control the public. We must stop terrorists they say, when in actuality, we are less safe now than before 9-11. Those who dissent are intimidated and silenced by personal attacks. Real problems are ignored. We attack the wrong targets for the wrong reasons and money flows into the hands of the few. Maybe, just maybe, Bushes' house of cards is beginning to collapse, but for the young men and women dead in Iraq,just like for those crushed by the blacklists and the Senate Inquisition, relief comes too late.