Liberals and McCarthyism

With all his talk of "scoundrels" one would think Podhoretz to be an expert on the breed, and I would agree, and claim that he is a prime example.

My dictionary defines scoundrel as a "mean, unprincipled rascal." That seems to describe someone who, while extolling reasoned discourse, excoriates those who would oppose him in such discourse.

Podhoretz complains that we do not all agree that it is "self-evident" that we must choose either Reagan's plan for contra aid or supporting communists; indeed, he insists there is no other possible choice, without any proof.

Podhoretz speaks of "hysteria," "character assassination" and "inexorable consequences," but he gives no actual arguments or reasoning himself, only complaints about the use of the term "McCarthyism."

Is this not a free country, Mr. Podhoretz? May not reasonable people disagree? Is not even the choice to be a communist to be accepted as a possibility for a free citizen? I grew up in the '50s, when the worst epithet we knew as kids was not scatological or sexual, but political: "Commie" or "pinko." Anyone who lived through that era should have learned a lesson of tolerance and the need for reasoned discussion.

Podhoretz's polemic rules out such discussion, since anyone who disagrees with him is overlooking "self-evident" truths or being "hysterical" when they object to simplistic labels that preclude discussion. Truly, Mr. Podhoretz, your refuge is the scoundrel's.

JOHN FRIES

Long Beach

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