"Have you no sense of decency?"
This quote has been ringing in my ears for this entire election period. Its origin is from the testimony of then-Wisconsin Senator Joseph R. McCarthy, who became both famous and infamous in the 1950s with his allegations that Communists were overrunning our national government and infiltrating Washington's federal agencies. During this time, there was intense national anxiety about the spread of communism in the U.S. History has it that the arrogant, persistent and egomaniac McCarthy met his match when he locked horns with the U.S. Army. In retaliation for not giving preferential treatment to one of his closest aides, he charged the Army with neglect for having lax security at one of their top-secret Army facilities. Televised nationally, the Army-McCarthy trials went on for months and drew national attention because of McCarthy's notoriety. However, he proved to be no match for Joseph Welch, the attorney hired to defend the U.S. Army against his outrageous allegations. On June 9, 1954, in a calculated and desperate move to gain the advantage over Welch, McCarthy, with a national television audience tuned in, attempted to discredit Welch, by charging that one of his staff attorneys was a Communist operative.
Across the nation, Americans watched and listened in disbelief. Joseph Welch responded emphatically with those immortal lines that ended McCarthy's career. The angry and frustrated Welch recoiled with: "Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness." McCarthy tried to interrupt, but Welch cut him off, "Let us not assassinate this lad further, Senator. You have done enough. Have you no sense of decency?" Practically overnight, McCarthy's power, influence and national popularity evaporated. He was deplored by the public, censured by the Senate, ostracized by the Republican party, and ignored by the media. McCarthy's fanatic, mean and unjust reign of terror was over, and he died in disgrace three years later.
"Have you no sense of decency?" That is the haunting question I want to keep asking this generation of American political leadership. Has anyone running for political office retained any sense of decency? Honesty? Integrity? Have politicians become so callous and remotely distanced from humanity that they no longer contend these character traits even matter? If they matter, why are we as citizens subjected to this constant barrage of lies, disinformation and deception? Don't they realize that Americans are growing skeptical and intolerant of their lies and weary of this environment of corruption and mistrust? Have they no sense of decency? COVID-19 is a perfect example of this and perhaps why we cannot get it under control. Local, state and national government officials have politicized this pandemic to suit their agendas while frustrated Americans suffer and lose confidence in America's leadership. Morality continues to get sidelined as married politicians get caught having sex with another man's wife in the middle of a major campaign, and it's "no big deal!” Really? Have you no sense of decency? Nationally, the CIA & FBI conspire to frame and unseat a duly elected POTUS! Have they no sense of decency? Our own Congress works to obstruct, slander and defame nominees for the U.S. Supreme Court. Have they no sense of decency? The media desecrates the Fourth Estate by abandoning their journalist integrity and commitment to the American people of providing fair and unbiased media coverage of our government's Executive, Judicial and Legislative branches. Have they no sense of decency? Recently, the gross dereliction of responsibility shown by social media outlets for censoring news and information for political purposes in an attempt to influence the results and outcome of a national election. Have they no sense of decency? Lastly, and closer to home, everyone should be disgusted by the number of relentless political TV, radio and postcard mailers sent to our homes that tout nothing but unsubstantiated "lies" about candidates. Have they no sense of decency?
We are all aware of the challenges that lie ahead for our community, state and nation. I firmly believe as Americans we will get through this. Regardless of color, race, religion or political affiliation, real Americans believe in the U.S. Constitution and freedom. History has shown that we are not willing to give either of them up. At least not without a fight. When confronted with elected leaders not living up to decent moral expectations, just ask them: Have you no sense of decency?
Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.