by Joel Gardner
One of my earliest memories is sitting with my mother as a pre-kindergartener watching the McCarthy hearings in the spring of 1954. Television was a new medium for most American households and the bombastic anti-communist antics of the junior senator from Wisconsin held the population enthralled for months. But, while television gave Joe McCarthy the exposure and notoriety he craved, it also spelled his doom, as more and more citizens came to realize that his agenda of intolerance and intimidation did not represent the American way. In fact, so many Americans were disenchanted and disgusted with the senator’s methodology that the term “McCarthyism” became a widespread derogatory term — which would become synonymous with authoritarian behavior characterized by thought indoctrination, loyalty oaths, and intolerance and punishment for dissenting views.
For over ﬁve decades, most American institutions eschewed tactics and agendas that reeked of McCarthyism. Which is why it is so disheartening and frightening to witness so many current institutions embracing the attributes of
McCarthyism — especially the one institution where it should be absolute anathema, but where it is most pronounced — our college campuses.
Unfortunately, this includes my alma mater, the University of Virginia, whose founders, Thomas Jeﬀerson and James Madison, were the individuals most responsible for our Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights, the two pillars of American individual rights and freedoms. And just as the illuminating screen of television revealed the evils of McCarthyism, for those concerned with a free exchange of ideas and a level playing ﬁeld of learning in higher education, it is important to shine the light of truth on the inappropriate and dangerous indoctrination ﬂourishing at UVA. Continue reading