Local Vocal Remembering Eugene McCarthy

by Stephen Kay

America recently lost a great leader and an extraordinary man, perhaps one of the most important and dedicated humanitarians our nation has ever produced. I am speaking about the Democrat from Minnesota, Sen. Eugene McCarthy. My life was made better in many ways by this man. For example, I can freely’ go from the Carolinas to California and play music, sing, dance, film, be filmed and know that freedom of speech is the most cherished of gifts America has.

In the era of the ‘“Big Red Scare,’” another senator from Wheeling, W.Va. was choking freedom of speech coast to coast. That was Joe McCarthy ‘— the McCarthy that notoriously began the 1950s version of the Salem witch trials with his HUAC hearings that targeted Hollywood and Washington, DC officials and anyone even loosely associated with them.

Eugene McCarthy, the good McCarthy of the Midwest, was a voice of reason in this hysteria. He, along with several other sound-minded visionaries would successfully argue’ against the’ illegal techniques’ used by Joe McCarthy to interrogate people, including harassment, bullying, abuse of power, assault and physiological’ torment.

Movie execs and military generals alike were so’ badly affected by Joe McCarthy’s abuse of power, that they lost their jobs and reputations. When elected officials, namely’ republicans from Philadelphia, New York and Boston, began recognizing the truth ‘— that Hollywood and DC were safe from any communist threat, the Midwest and the Southern ‘dixiecrats’ squashed Joe McCarthy’s tyrannical’ movement to a’ halting political’ end.

Eugene McCarthy served in the House from 1949 to 1959, and the Senate from 1959 through the early 1970s. He sought the Democratic nomination for President five times and was active against the political abuses during the Vietnam conflict.

I am forever grateful to Eugene McCarthy.

Ed. note: Sen. Joseph McCarthy was, in fact, from Wisconsin.