During the McCarthy era, one of the great voices of reason was that of Joseph Welch, the attorney for the Army, who said: “Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?” (See video.) That was the beginning of McCarthy’s decline, and from then on the American press no longer published every inflammatory claim he made.
We need someone like Joseph Welch today who can expose the indecency of the demagogues who exploit the American public’s ignorance and fear of Muslims. And we need news media to stop giving free, uncritical air time to these demagogues. People like Newt Gingrich need to be exposed for what they are, dangerous political opportunists who have no sense of shame.
The latest example of that has been his fanning the flames of hysteria over the planned mosque near Ground Zero. After earlier saying no mosque should be built there until synagogues and churches are built in Saudi Arabia, Gringrich this morning reached a new low when he compared having a mosque near Ground Zero with having a swastika sign near the Holocaust Museum. As reported by Mediaite, Gringrich said on Faux News:
“The folks who want to build this mosque, who are really radical Islamists, who want to triumphfully (sic) prove they can build a mosque next to a place where 3,000 Americans were killed by radical Islamists. Those folks don’t have any interest in reaching out to the community. They’re trying to make a case about supremacy… This happens all the time in America. Nazis don’t have the right to put up a sign next to the Holocaust Museum in Washington.”
Gingrich is a bully who has been throwing rhetorical bombs for decades, but enough is enough. It’s time for someone respected by the American public to step up and say: At long last, have you no sense of decency?
And the press needs to treat him the way they treated McCarthy when it was clear that he was a dangerous demagogue. They stopped giving him free air time.