Frye on McCarthyism: “The big lie as a normal political weapon”


Edward R. Murrow’s closing remarks in his report on McCarthy, which was instrumental in ending the hysteria

CBS broadcast its See It Now piece, “A Report on Senator Joseph McCarthy,” on this date in 1954.

From The Modern Century:

The collapse of Communist sympathies in American culture was not the result of McCarthyism and other witch-hunts, which were not a cause but an effect of that collapse.  The object of the witch-hunt is the witch, that is, a helpless old woman whose dangerousness is assumed to rationalize quite different interests and pleasures.  Similarly the Communist issue in McCarthyism was a red herring for a democratic development of the big lie as a normal political weapon: if internal Communism had been a genuine danger the struggle against it would have taken a genuine form. (CW 11, 42)

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