Cancel Culture and McCarthyism: Two Peas in a Pod

I think I was in the second grade when U.S. Sen. Joe McCarthy of Wisconsin uttered these words to political opponents and federal bureaucrats during Senate hearings:

“Are you now, or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?”

Sen. Joe McCarthy

It was the early 1950s—the era of so-called “McCarthyism” with its Hollywood “blacklists,” and the “red scare.”

Those were dark days of political intolerance when innocent Americans accused of having “communist sympathies” saw their reputations obliterated and their livelihoods extinguished. McCarthy urged businesses, political organizations, and bureaucracies such as the U.S. Department of State to root out communists and those who accused of once being communists.

McCarthy used hearsay and intimidation to establish himself as a powerful and feared figure in American politics. He leveled charges of disloyalty at celebrities, intellectuals, and anyone who disagreed with his political views. McCarthy’s reign of terror continued until his colleagues formally denounced his tactics in 1954 during the Army-McCarthy hearings, when army lawyer Joseph Welch famously asked McCarthy, “Have you no decency?”

The same question could and should be asked of those in Washington today who are fomenting “cancel culture.”

Indeed, the dreaded question that leftists and those behind the worship of cancel culture seem to be asking is this:

“Are you now or have you ever been a conservative?”

Senator McCarthy would be proud—though he might be shocked to learn that those asking that question aren’t members of his Republican Party, they are, for the most part, liberal and leftist Democrats.

The bogeymen (and women) of 2021 aren’t the communists that Sen. McCarthy saw behind every rock and edifice in Washington, they are those accused of past or present-day “white supremacy,” hate, defiant LGBTQ opinion, support for Donald Trump, or (gasp!) engaging in any kind of speech that is critical of Joe Biden and the left.

Instead of a menacing Senator McCarthy, the witch hunters in 2021 are the “woke” hoi polloi of Hollywood, toadies of Big Tech, corporate human resource departments, social media mavens, mainstream media celebrities, university professors, teachers, and others who exercise institutional influence.

Some are even in the U.S. Congress.

So what can be done about this new wave of McCarthyism that is infecting our national political discourse with the voraciousness of the Covid-19 pandemic?

Here in California, State Sen. Melissa Melendez a Republican who represents my district in Sacramento, has introduced an anti-discrimination bill that seeks to add “political affiliation” as a protected class under state law. If passed, the legislation will protect California residents from discrimination when seeking housing or employment.

Sen. Melissa Melendez

Melendez says her constituents (and I am one) are experiencing “cancel culture” shaming for their political affiliations. They worry they’ll be discriminated against in various ways for their affiliations.

“I hear about it all the time from constituents, and it’s very worrisome,” Melendez said recently. “And I don’t know what to tell them, because in their minds they think that the law protects them—but when we looked further into it, it really doesn’t.”

Currently, the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and the Education Code prohibit discrimination based on gender, nationality, race, ethnicity, disability, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression, among other characteristics.

“But there’s little protection beyond that. Because of where we are today, as far as politics in this state and in this country, I want to make sure that people are protected for their political viewpoints,” said Melendez.

Senate Bill 238 (SB 238), also called the Diversity of Thought Act, would amend FEHA by adding political affiliation as a protected class, while Senate Bill 249 (SB 249) would amend the Education Code to prohibit discrimination and harassment in schools based on political affiliation. Both were introduced in late January and referred to Assembly committees in February.

Specifically, Melendez’s bill would make it “an unlawful employment practice … to refuse to hire or employ … or to bar or to discharge” persons “from employment … or to discriminate against the person in compensation or in terms, conditions, or privileges of employment” because of their “political affiliation.”

Melendez is already experiencing opposition and backlash to her bill in the heavily Democrat-controlled California legislature. Some have accused her of being a racist, of favoring domestic terrorism, of being xenophobic, and even misogynistic.

Why am I not surprised?

If leftists and intolerant Democrats can get away with shutting down conservative thought and discourse, they will achieved what Joe McCarthy ultimately failed to do— eradicate an entire political class along with their opinions and convictions.

Then they alone—the “woke” socialist autocrats and oppressors will dominate the American political landscape, control our thoughts and ideas, and “cancel” (read exterminate) those who oppose them.

And America will have become the United Socialist States of America.

Stalin and Mao must be roaring with laughter from their abodes in the sweltering underworld.







About Ronald E. Yates

Ronald E. Yates is an award-winning author of historical fiction and action/adventure novels, including the popular and highly-acclaimed Finding Billy Battles trilogy. Read More About Ron Here