Friday, November 06, 2015

The Sad Thing About The "Early Release" of Fake Anonymous KKK Info

     ...Was that a lot of it seemed plausible.  Buncha politicians secretly racist?  That's an easy sell -- easier than some guy down the block with eyeholes in his pillowslips, which is probably the bulk of what's going to be mined from the actual data-dump.

     There's a problem with this sort of thing and it's the same problem as the "Red scare" witch-hunts of the 1950s and earlier:* the guy who went to a meeting or signed up for a mailing list out of curiosity, ignorance or orneriness and later turned away is painted with the same stain as the most wild-eyed True Believer and it's difficult to sort them out by cross-examination: how do you tell honest regret from sneaky deceit?

     I'd suggest we can only judge men and women by their actions; their true thoughts can never be determined with certainty.  Despite that, expect witch-hunting and sensationalized (and likely highly imaginative) accounts.  The Press will love it if they can find at least one public figure to topple.

     Is it better to have a determined gang of "hacktivists" do this sort of thing† rather than J. Edgar Hoover's FBI or a House or Senate Committee?  Probably; but the falsely or inaccurately accused will still face the same kind of stigmatization, albeit free of the wrath of Congress and/or Federal prosecution.  ...Think what a comfort that will be for their children, to know Mommy or Daddy won't be going to jail, merely loathed by the neighbors....

     Were there Communists in the State Department, Reds in Hollywood?  Yep.  Was everyone accused of it an actual commie or fellow-traveler?  Nope.  Did every Soviet mole, spy or sympathizer get  rooted out?  Oh, hells no.   Remember that in coming days.  Haters still gonna hate and like the poor, they'll always be around.
* Yes, earlier. Red-hunting history didn't begin with Murrow's news coverage of McCarthy.
† Mind you, even that is nothing new.


Anonymous said...

The one about the mayor of Lexington being a member of the KKK didn't ring true to me. He has been open about being gay for quite a while. I'm not aware of the KKK having rainbow robes.

Guffaw in AZ said...

And this is part of The American Paradox. How doth one have Freedom, but in so doing allow those who wish to restrict that Freedom power?
Klan, Islamofacists, commies, nazis, all are free to speak their truths here.
Of course, any or all of them may constitute poison pills...


PS - I am 'amused' that it's coming out that there were (are) many commies in gov't in the 40's and 50's, and that McCarthy was ousted for pointing it out. Hell, now were openly electing them!

Jeffrey Smith said...

Lovely display of impartiality in that Red Channels article.

markm said...

Guffaw: McCarthy didn't expose communists so much as wave unverifiable "secret" lists around for publicity, detracting from HUAC and other organizations that were doing the real work. When McCarthy decided to join the commie-hunt in 1950, the top spies in the state department (Alger Hiss) and the A-bomb program (the Rosenberg/Greenglass cell) had already been exposed by real investigators, and would soon be convicted.

There were plenty more, but McCarthy didn't make a dent in them. I don't know whether McCarthy was just making shit up, or some extremely irresponsible person with access to ultra-secret data like the Venona decrypts was feeding him names, but he distinctly lacked usable evidence for his accusations. (One of the problems of Venona, like the Purple & Enigma decrypts in WWII, is that the importance of keeping our decryption capabilities secret meant that the information could not be used unless a way was found of attributing it to other sources.) Of 159 people he did name, 9 could be verified when the Venona decrypts were declassified in 1995 or earlier from other information, but that's a pretty poor percentage - with the extent of Soviet penetration revealed in Venona, random choice might have been as accurate.

He managed to be clownish and vicious at the same time - and he was used to make other commie-hunters, who did seek evidence that could be presented at public hearings and trials, look both silly and vicious. He handed the leftists their greatest propaganda victory of the 1950's - a chance to name anticommunism after a clown.

Guffaw in AZ said...

"He handed the leftists their greatest propaganda victory of the 1950's - a chance to name anticommunism after a clown."

Completely agree!


Roberta X said...

Jeffrey Smith, I noticed that. Sheesh! It's a fine example of the limitations of Wikipedia as a source.

You do know you can edit that, right?