Fields of Fear

This nation has been through a lot of traumatic events in its relatively short history. To name a few: colonialism, slavery, The Revolutionary War, The Civil War, WW I, WW II, Vietnam, The Gulph War, 911, Afghanistan and numerous financial ups and downs.

There are those who take advantage of the truly reasonable fear that accompanies traumatic events. In an effort to increase and sustain their power and popularity, they often resort to exaggeration and outright lies. Their actions threaten the very foundation of our country.

Here are some examples of those who qualify as members of the American Rogues’ Gallery –

  1. Fritz Julius Kuhn (1986-1951) – A naturalized U. S. Citizen in 1934, he previously served in the German Army in WW I. His organization, Friends of the New Germany, attracted thousands of German Americans in the time leading up to WW II. He mirrored Nazi party propaganda (antisemitic and pro-German) and he styled his “meetings” along the lines of the large gatherings in Nazi Germany. Sent to prison in 1939 for embezzlement, he was later charged with more serious crimes. In 1943, his U.S. citizenship was revoked and he was deported from Sing-Sing Prison to Germany in 1945.
  2. Walter Winchell (1897-1972) – A New York Gossip columnist who evolved into a political power-house. He eventually became a firm supporter and friend of the notorious Senator Joe McCarthy. He used his very popular radio show, newspaper column and television show to support McCarthy’s witch-hunt, in the process destroying the reputations and livelihoods of many innocent Americans.
  3. Senator Joe McCarthy (1908-1957) – In the middle of the cold war, Senator McCarthy rose to prominence after a speech in 1950 when he declared two-hundred-five communists had infiltrated the State Department. This was a time of great and understandable fear in the U.S. of the rise of communism and in particular of the Soviet Union, in the aftermath of WW II. Senator McCarthy, unable to prove his assertions, resorted to increasingly outrageous accusations. In 1954, he was condemned by his fellow senators and his reign of terror ended. He died in 1957.

In some cases, but not all, these individuals began with good intentions. Senator McCarthy was seen by some as a patriot. But as time went by, it became apparent that their main concern was securing their own positions of power, both political and financial. Motivations of patriotism and public service fell by the wayside and personal gain took over.

We survived these challenges, but if we respond to today’s challenges by allowing our fears to stampede us into making rash, ill-informed decisions, there will be a rough road ahead.