In recent days many (or perhaps all) of the documents pertaining to the House Un-American Activities Commission headed by Joseph McCarthy have been released to the public. I’m frankly amazed, given the tenor of our current administration and the negative attitude toward release of some documents and the de-classification of others, even those which are scantly relevant, much less deserving of secrecy, that this has happened now. Eventually, sure, but now? Strange.Nevertheless, for someone such as myself who neither lived through that era nor learned as much as I should have in K-12 or Higher education, it’s fascinating reading.I’ve added a brief bit of testimony to the Materials section here for interested parties. The piece is the testimony of William Mandel to Senator McCarthy, Cohn and Jackson, as well as others present, regarding his potential involvement in the Communist Party. Mr. Mandel’s testimony was particularly interesting, for he made a point of displaying both honesty and a firm will in facing his accusers. Toward the end of his round, he is asked about his employment, this being an apparently useful tactic for eliciting ooperation – the accused is forced to divulge his place of employment in such a way as to encourage the employer to fire him/her. In Mr. Mandel’s case, this did indeed happen.It’s interesting to note several things:The editor of this document in recording the events apparently saw fit to end the piece with Mr. Mandel’s most caustic and bold statements about the commission, suggesting at least some level of sympathy;The Bush administration has recently encouraged behavior (particularly through Ashcroft’s Justice Dept.) that, while not necessarily directly reminiscent of the McCarthy hearings, is certainly draconian in terms of it’s persecution of stereotypes, support of stool pidgeon behavior and general distaste for first amendment rights – all in the name of American values;and the current cultural shift in the U.S. seems inclined to include patriotism and fervor, of religious and other flavors, to be American traits directly inherited from the Constitution and therefore perfectly acceptable to require of others. A reading of the Constitution would encourage one to think otherwise I submit, but that’s just me.All in all, these are interesting times. We press one set of values upon the world with force, while suppressing our founder’s values as set out in the constitution at home – and at the same time documents that provide evidence of both the folly and the potential reality of the consequences of this behavior come to light. Is history trying to tell us something?