- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 10, 2008

He has here in his hand a list … OK, it’s not exactly a list.

What M. Stanton Evans actually has in his hand is a thick file of official documents pertaining to several cases of communist subversion in the federal government that Sen. Joseph McCarthy sought to expose in the 1950s.

In a Victorian town house on Maryland Avenue near Capitol Hill, Mr. Evans stands in the research library of his office, displaying one of the dozens of thick files that crowd the shelves. Like the man whose career he has recently chronicled, Mr. Evans is trying to make a point.

“Six years — no, actually, longer than that,” he says, explaining how long it took him to compile the research on which he based his most recent book.

Indeed, it might be said that the 73-year-old Mr. Evans’ entire career was spent preparing to write “Blacklisted by History: The Untold Story of Senator Joe McCarthy and His Fight Against America’s Enemies.”

As a newspaperman, author and educator, Mr. Evans has labored on behalf of conservative causes for at least a half-century.

To cite just one example of his early and enduring influence, Mr. Evans was one of the leading activists who gathered in 1960 at the Connecticut home of William F. Buckley Jr. to chart the future course of the conservative movement. The conference chose Mr. Evans — then a Midwestern newspaper editor only five years past graduating from Yale University — to draft what became known as the Sharon Statement, summarizing the “transcendent values” the movement sought to advance.

Now, after spending the past six years intensively poring through FBI files, transcripts of long-forgotten Senate subcommittee hearings and other records, Mr. Evans has brought forth a 643-page volume that dares defend a man whom Mr. Evans acknowledges in a chapter title is still widely viewed as “an enemy of the people.” The very name of the Wisconsin Republican long ago entered usage as an all-purpose synonym for political villainy: “McCarthyism.”

“There is no greater lie than the lie about Joe McCarthy,” Mr. Evans says.

This lie about McCarthy — who died at age 48 in 1957, less than three years after being censured by the Senate — has been accepted as truth, Mr. Evans says, because so many earlier historians and biographers have uncritically accepted accusations against McCarthy first made in 1950 by Maryland Sen. Millard Tydings and other Democrats, without bothering to examine the original records that vindicate the outspoken anti-communist.

“What’s out there is all bunk, to put it mildly,” Mr. Evans says, and that “bunk” is repeated as truth in an age when the study of history is in decline.

“We don’t have any historical memory. … That’s one of the reasons I wrote the book,” he says. “So much of what’s in the history books is just a repetition of the original smear.”

To clear up the record, Mr. Evans devotes more than 100 pages of his book to the “back story” of how the Soviet Union used American communists and sympathizers to infiltrate and influence the U.S. government, and the subsequent cover-up of that scandal.

“It isn’t just a book about Joe McCarthy,” says the Texas native known as “Stan” to his friends. “It’s a book about what was happening to our country in the middle of the 20th century.”

A major cause of confusion about McCarthy, Mr. Evans says, is that so many have claimed he was hunting for Russian “spies,” when in fact his primary goal was to expose how Soviet agents were allowed to shape U.S. foreign policy from the 1930s onward.

“There’s so much emphasis on spying, but the policy is much more important. If you’re controlling the policy, the spying isn’t so important,” Mr. Evans says, describing as “the very heart of the book” the role of American communists in undermining U.S. military and diplomatic support for anti-communist forces in Poland, Yugoslavia and China during and after World War II.

“The penetration was very deep” in wartime agencies such as the Office of Strategic Services, as well as in the State and Treasury departments and even the White House, Mr. Evans says. “McCarthy was threatening to expose this, and that’s why he was such a danger.”

More than 15 years after the end of the Cold War, however, even most Republicans and conservatives refuse to defend McCarthy. Mr. Evans says this is mainly because McCarthy’s negative reputation was firmly established in popular culture long before the collapse of the Soviet empire catalyzed the release of previously classified documents — especially FBI files on subversion cases — proving McCarthy was right about those he named as communist agents.

“I tried to rely as much as possible on primary sources,” says Mr. Evans, because secondary sources on the subject are generally unreliable. “The history books mostly have been written from a perspective of leftist ideology.”

In seeking out original sources, Mr. Evans — who worked as a newspaperman for nearly 20 years and still teaches journalism classes at Troy University in Alabama — says he did “a lot of old-fashioned shoe-leather reporting.”

He used a 1950 directory of State Department employees to confirm that one of the Soviet agents named by McCarthy was still employed there at the time of his accusation.

Seeking original newspaper accounts of the Wheeling, W.Va., speech in which McCarthy famously declared, “I have here in my hand a list” of communists working in the State Department, Mr. Evans pursued several dead ends before finally locating the newspapers on microfilm in the library of West Virginia University.

“Hang on to it — I’m on my way,” he recalls telling the librarian over the phone, before climbing into his 1990 Chevrolet truck and driving from his Loudon County home to the university in Morgantown, W.Va.

Many original records pertaining to McCarthy and the subversion cases he sought to investigate, Mr. Evans says, have disappeared from official government archives.

“Many, many documents are missing — it didn’t start with Sandy Berger,” he says, referring to the former Clinton administration official who admitted pilfering documents from the National Archives.

Fortunately, Mr. Evans says, he was able to obtain “a gold mine” of documents assembled during the 1950s by conservative writer Ralph de Toledano, who died last year.

“I was talking to Ralph a few years ago, and he said, ‘You know, I’ve got a lot of stuff McCarthy gave me,’ ” Mr. Evans says, describing the de Toledano cache as “20 boxes of stuff,” including original lists of names that McCarthy submitted to the Tydings subcommittee, which are reproduced in the book.

Like McCarthy before him, the nature of Mr. Evans’ sources has become a point of contention. A lengthy review of “Blacklisted by History” in the Dec. 17 issue of the conservative magazine National Review, written by Ron Radosh, accused Mr. Evans of taking “virtually all of his information” about the Amerasia scandal from a 1996 book Mr. Radosh co-authored.

That 2,500-word article led to an exchange of letters in the Dec. 31 issue of National Review that filled four pages with another 3,100 words from the two men. Mr. Evans said he had “been a journalist for upward of 50 years” without ever being accused of plagiarism, and accused Mr. Radosh of displaying “a nasty penchant for turning a debate about substantive issues into a species of personal slander.”

The subject of slander is, in fact, central to what Mr. Evans explores in “Blacklisted by History,” where he examines the tactics McCarthy’s enemies used against him.

“It was sort of the template for what has been done to a lot of other people. Think of Barry Goldwater, Robert Bork, Clarence Thomas, Dan Quayle — the list is long,” Mr. Evans says. “And it’s the same routine, over and over again. Since you can’t deal with the substance, you use a personal attack. … It’s something that the left has been very successful at for decades.”

The same tactics are employed today, Mr. Evans says, and for the same reason.

“It works. If you do enough attacking of people … if you make them the subject of an alleged scandal, at some point in the Washington system, facts don’t matter.”

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