“Those of us who shout the loudest about Americanism in making character assassinations are all too frequently those who, by our own words and acts, ignore some of the basic principles of Americanism:
The right to criticize;
The right to hold unpopular beliefs;
The right to protest;
The right of independent thought.
“The exercise of these rights should not cost one single American citizen his reputation or his right to a livelihood nor should he be in danger of losing his reputation or livelihood merely because he happens to know someone who holds unpopular beliefs. Who of us doesn’t? Otherwise none of us could call our souls our own. Otherwise thought control would have set in.” — Margaret Chase Smith (1897-1995), Republican Senator from Maine, “Declaration of Conscience,” speech to the U.S. Senate, June 1, 1950
Speaking on behalf of herself and six other Republican Senators, Senator Smith warned fellow party members about abetting the tactics of GOP colleague Joseph McCarthy. Look in vain for her like among today’s Republicans on Capitol Hill. The only ones willing to denounce the reckless charges coming from a figure far more consequential than McCarthy are those who will not be facing primary voters.
Read Smith’s words, then weep that her kind is no more.
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