Neo-McCarthyism Slugs Major League Baseball

For baseball diehards, the name Joe McCarthy has always meant the New York Yankee manager of the 1930s. Now a very different Joe McCarthy stalks the National Pastime. This Joe McCarthy made his bones as the junior senator from Wisconsin in the late 1940s and '50s. This Joe McCarthy spearheaded the frightening House of Un-American Activities Committee [HUAC], which aimed to "uproot communism from American life." This Joe McCarthy spat in the face of personal privacy and political freedom. And just as Yankee Skipper Joe McCarthy was the public face for a "murderers row" of players including Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, Senator Joe, merely fronted for a different kind of "murderers row", namely the most talented and brutally ambitious politicians of his generation. They spanned the political spectrum from liberals like John and Bobby Kennedy to Richard Nixon and President Eisenhower himself. These men galloped to political fame and fortune while countless lives were left destroyed in their wake. As writer Elizabeth Schulte put it, "HUAC interviewed thousands of individuals, calling on them to turn in their neighbors, coworkers, friends or family members whom they suspected to be communists. Probably the best remembered are the Hollywood writers and actors who were called before HUAC, but thousands of ordinary people

Dave Zirin is the author of the book: "Welcome to the Terrordome: The Pain, Politics and Promise of Sports" (Haymarket). You can receive his column Edge of Sports, every week by going to dave@edgeofsports.com.
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