‘We will not walk in fear, one of another’

In a presidential campaign pitting hope vs. hate, fear vs. faith, it is worth remembering the immortal words of Edward R. Murrow:

We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. We must remember always that accusation is not proof and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law.

We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men — not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate, and to defend causes that were, for the moment, unpopular.

This is no time for men who oppose Senator McCarthy’s methods to keep silent, or for those who approve. We can deny our heritage and our history, but we cannot escape responsibility for the result. There is no way for a citizen of a republic to abdicate his responsibilities. As a nation we have come into our full inheritance at a tender age.

We proclaim ourselves, as indeed we are, the defenders of freedom, wherever it continues to exist in the world. But we cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home.

The actions of the junior senator from Wisconsin have caused alarm and dismay amongst our allies abroad and given considerable comfort to our enemies. And whose fault is that? Not really his. He didn’t create this situation of fear, he merely exploited it — and rather successfully.

Cassius was right. “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.”

—Edward R. Murrow’s report on Sen. Joseph McCarthy,
“See It Now,” CBS TV, March 9, 1954
(full broadcast transcript)

The players may have changed 54 years later, but the actions in the fear-driven campaign led by Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin, and their supporters, speak for themselves; they speak to their vision of America as fearful and full of hatred, not of America as a place of potential and of promise; an America of divisiveness, a place where Patriotism is defined as displaying examples of our power, not the power of our example; they speak as defenders of your right to fear, hate, attack and resent that which is different.

McCarthyism may have died, at least officially, some 50 years ago, but will it be replaced, to quote Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo, by McCainism?

Good night, and good luck.

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