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 Victim of McCarthyism 

September 5, 2006 
[Originally published by the Universal Press Syndicate, May 6, 1997]
 indent for Victim of 
McCarthyismThe Wall Street Journal has just run a moving story about Arturo Sandoval, a distinguished musician and Cuban refugee who has been denied U.S. citizenship by the infamous Immigration and Naturalization Service. Today's column is "Victim of McCarthyism" — Read Joe's columns the day he writes them.The reason? Mr. Sandoval is technically a Communist.

 indent for Victim of 
McCarthyismThe author of the article calls this decision “a McCarthyite outrage,” because Mr. Sandoval, as a subject of Fidel Castro, had to join the Communist Party in order to get permission to travel abroad. But he hated Communism, and when he got the chance, he fled to this country — only to find his constrained membership in the party used against him.

 indent for Victim of 
McCarthyismI sympathize. I would have sympathized anyway, but I have special reason to sympathize. For last month, after having been vociferously anti-Communist all my life, I too became a victim of McCarthyism.

 indent for Victim of 
McCarthyismIn a review of my new book about who wrote the plays and poems traditionally ascribed to Shakespeare, Professor Paul Cantor of the University of Virginia accuses me of holding “a Marxist view of literature.”

 indent for Victim of 
McCarthyismMarxist? Moi?

 indent for Victim of 
McCarthyismI trust that my faithful readers will realize that Professor Cantor, in his disagreement with my chief thesis, has gone a little overboard. I’ve been called many things, but never a Marxist.

 indent for Victim of 
McCarthyismAs a matter of fact, anti-Communism was my first political passion. For most of my adult life I was a Cold Warrior. I’ve written countless columns and articles denouncing the Soviet Union and Red China.

 indent for Victim of 
McCarthyismBut all for nought. The damage is done. My reputation has been blackened, my career blighted, my future darkened. From now on my name will be indelibly associated with the word Marxist. Old friends will drop me. My children will be shunned, my grandchildren shamed.

[Breaker quote for Victim of McCarthyism: My besmirched reputation] indent for Victim of McCarthyismIn short, it’s time to write my memoirs. That’s how we victims of McCarthyism have always made ends meet. When you’re exposed as a Communist, your next move, if you have any sense, is to exploit the opportunity by going to a big publisher and writing about how you’ve been persecuted for your ideas. You can hold out for a lot of money.

 indent for Victim of 
McCarthyismAnd don’t forget the movie rights! Hollywood loves stories about people who have been picked on just because their ideals led them to work secretly for Stalin. I want to be played by Robert De Niro or Robert Redford, with Vanessa Redgrave as my mother.

 indent for Victim of 
McCarthyismI never actually finished grad school (I just hung around for several years, like most grad students), but as a known Marxist I should be able to land a good job teaching in a major university. I can’t wait to see the look on Professor Cantor’s face when I turn up as his colleague in the English Department at the University of Virginia! I’ll be the darling of the faculty.

 indent for Victim of 
McCarthyismAnd then, woe to Professor Cantor! I’ll have him hounded out of the university for having led the witch-hunt that left me a broken man. And that’s not all he’s done. He also accuses me of holding “Romantic notions of poetry” and places me in “the camp of today’s multiculturalists.” I didn’t even realize you could hold Romantic and Marxist views at the same time.

 indent for Victim of 
McCarthyismBut this man will stop at nothing. He says I believe that “authors are the captives of the class into which they are born, and their works are merely the ideological superstructure of their class interest.” Well, yes. Does anyone disagree with that? It’s just common sense. Marx said it, I believe it, that settles it.

 indent for Victim of 
McCarthyismMy experience has given me a new sympathy not only for my fellow accused Marxists, but for the underdog, the minority, the dissenter, the Other — in short, for all who are oppressed or marginalized by bourgeois society. I try to keep my chin up, but it isn’t easy, as people like Mikhail Gorbachev, the Chinese leadership, the Clintons, and now Tony Blair co-opt the working classes and betray the revolution.

 indent for Victim of 
McCarthyismMy only hope lies in the internal contradictions of capitalism. That, and the fact that progressive-minded people still control the universities. Plus, my agent thinks we can get a decent book and movie package.

Joseph Sobran

Copyright © 2006 by the Griffin Internet Syndicate,
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