Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Declaration of Conscience

In June of 1950, the freshman Senator from Maine took the Senate floor and spoke these words. The Senator was Margaret Chase Smith, a Republican, but her words transcend partisanship, and seem prophetic today.

"Mr. President," she said on June 1, 1950, "I would like to speak briefly and simply about a serious national condition. It is a national feeling of fear and frustration that could result in national suicide and the end of everything that we Americans hold dear." She continued, "The United States Senate has long enjoyed the worldwide respect as the greatest deliberative body in the world. But recently that deliberative character has too often been debased to the level of a forum of hate and character assassination sheltered by the shield of congressional immunity."

At the time of her speech, the United States Senate was gearing up to a witch hunt. Led by Senator Joseph McCarthy (Wisconsin-Republican), it started with an address McCarthy gave in Wheeling, W.VA., in which he claimed to have a list of 200 names with "card carrying" communist connections, and who were still working in the State Department. He asserted that America's Foreign Policy failures were to be blamed on these communist infiltrators. When these charges were investigated, they were found to be "a fraud and a hoax". but with the outbreak of the Korean conflict, and America's fight against Communist aggression, it would be four years before Senator Smith, and her Senate colleagues would vote to censure Senator McCarthy. By then , reputations had been ruined, lives had been shattered, and all for nothing.

Today we have not communists, but terrorists. Unfortunately the terrorists we have to fear are those whom we have elected to public office. Just as over 50 years ago, America lived in fear of being accused by McCarthy, today we have to fear what craziness will emanate from the likes of Tom DeLay, William Frist, Karl Rove and a host of others, the President included, who think they have a mandate from a specific group of Americans, and the rest of us be damned. And what do we hear from those in the Senate who do not buy into this madness? Not much. Whereas Mrs. Smith's comments created an uproar and a groundswell of support, we have not heard much about those who have dared to speak out against their Senate colleagues today They are derided.

It appears that we have a dearth of people with principles or character in this day and age. Where is the sense of outrage that used to accompany lies and subterfuge? Where are those members of the 4th estate who are supposed to be the watchdogs of our Constitution and who have brought down Presidents in the past? We seem to have no tolerance with men who might shed a tear when they are overcome with a sense of frustration or sadness, over something which is near and dear to them...their country, their spouse. It was tears that brought down Senator Muskie lo those many years ago, when speaking from his heart, he refused to tolerate things spoken about his wife.

And what about us, the public? Are we so cowed by this administration, so afraid for ourselves that we continue on our merry way and say nothing about the illegalities which are overtaking our seat of government? Are we so afraid that we dare not demand truthfulness? If this is so then we have lost the battle already. We have played into the hands of the neocons and their plan for the destruction and dismantling of this country for their own nefarious ends. Just the way they want it.

Where, oh where is the modern day Diogenes? We need him and his lamp to try and ferret out the honesty and truth which has to be hiding within the halls of the Capital. Or, as the hounds with the fox, has truth and honesty been run to ground? I fear that the lunatics have truly taken over the asylum when we have little outrage for the continued lies, which seem to spew forth daily, from Washington.

To paraphrase Judge Joseph Welch, a contemporary of Margaret Chase Smith's, and also one of Joseph McCarthy's targets during his communist witch hunt..."have you no sense of decency, sir?"

What HAS happened to our sense of decency? Where is OUR Declaration of Conscience?