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October 27, 2010

"Have you no sense of decency, sir?"

This morning I ran across this famous exchange between Senator Joseph McCarthy and Army attorney Joseph Welch from the Army-McCarthy Hearings on June 9, 1954. Then as now, members of the audience at a Senate hearing are not supposed to applaud; but they did when Mr. Welch finished his remarks. These hearings were televised, and this exchange marked the beginning of the end for Mr. McCarthy and his destructive witch hunts.

The conspiracy mongering and stoking of fear and paranoia by the American right wing today have been conducted mainly in other venues than hearing rooms; but that is because the Republicans at present do not enjoy a majority in the House or Senate from which to control such hearings. This, however, could change. If and when it does, I hope there will be modern-day heirs of Joseph Welch to confront the reckless demagogues who will seize the committee gavels.

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