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Bachmann, West and the Rebirth of McCarthyism

How the nation and our political leaders deal with members of Congress like Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and Allen West (R-FL), who talk as if they are the reincarnation of Senator Joe McCarthy, is our next test! Will we again allow the nation to go through the pain and suffering that McCarthy caused or do we stand up early and say, "Your brand of politics and intolerance is not acceptable in 2012"?

When Bachmann and four other ultra-conservative members of the House of Representatives made serious and unsubstantiated allegations against Huma Abedin, wife of former Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-NY) and long-time aide to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, only Senator John McCain (R-AZ) went to the well of the Senate and called out Michele Bachmann. He said, "These attacks on Huma have no logic, no basis and no merit, and they need to stop." While I applaud him, McCain didn't go far enough and neither did Speaker John Boehner, who said he hadn't read Bachmann's full statement but stated that "lawmakers shouldn't make such serious allegations without anything to back them up," saying, "From everything that I do know of [Abedin], she has a sterling character and I think accusations like this being thrown around are pretty dangerous."

Where were the majority of the other members of Congress both Democrat and Republican and why weren't they lined up to speak and call out Bachmann after McCain and Boehner? It appears that most of the Republican Party is apparently willing to accept her and West, who sees communists under every bed, as part of their party and would rather not speak out against them and show them to be the extremists that they are.

This nation suffered greatly during the McCarthy era in the 1950s and many good people lost their careers and even their lives due to McCarthy's tactics. We are seeing those tactics used again today by the likes of Bachmann, West and their cronies. This time we should work to nip them in the bud before they get out of hand and before they can again take over our nation. Good people will listen to reason but it takes leaders who are willing to stand up to bullies like Bachmann and West and call them out now! If there is anyone who doesn't speak out because they believe this country can't go back to the days of McCarthyism they are fooling themselves.

I have heard some pundits say we should disregard the likes of Bachmann and West because when we give them airtime and talk about them we play into their hands. I for one believe we can't follow that path because they are too dangerous to be ignored.

There seems to be a palpable fear in the nation today of standing up to the worst of those who make bigoted statements, and they include some of the members and leaders of the Tea Party like Michelle Bachmann. The Republican Party accepted her as a presidential candidate and had her in numerous debates and it seemed that the other candidates felt that if they weren't overly polite to her they would suffer. One can be polite to her as a woman but should not accept the outrageous things she says without a strong rebuttal. Mitt Romney will likely, and from my point of view thankfully, lose this election because he took positions so far to the right to appease Bachmann's constituency. But thankfully as we have seen that constituency isn't yet strong enough to name a nominee of the Party and the Republican Party still has a chance to speak out and save itself from that eventuality.

Many like me believe that people are innately good. No one is born hating but rather hate is taught. Instead we need to teach tolerance and love of thy neighbor. We need to stand up to and call out fanatics like Bachmann and West and it needs to be done by those in both political parties as well as the clergy and all those who truly believe in diversity and a world where we can live together and respect each other.

If we give in to the Bachmanns and Wests of the world without a doubt we will see ourselves facing the next era of McCarthyism. Instead we need to stand up and be counted and take them on head-on. Bullies will always end up caving if one can only summon the guts to stand up to them.

This article was fist published July 31, 2012 in The Huffington Post.