Title: The Red Plot Against America
Author: Robert E. Stripling
Stipling, Robert E. (1949). The Red Plot Against America. Drexel Hill, PA: Bell Book
Date Posted: March 6, 2013
Those who remember the Dies Committee, of which the author was chief investigator, will not be surprised that most of the “reds” in his tale turn out to be liberals and progressives, many of them noted for their anti-Communist sentiments.
Before there was Joseph McCarthy there was Robert Stripling.
Robert Stripling’s The Red Plot Against America was published in 1949, but has long been forgotten due to the liberal memory hole that dictates our popular recollections of that era. Having served ten years as Chief Investigator of the bipartisan House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), Stripling provided a substantive primer on the precise nature of the Communist threat against the United States of America—specifically, the threat from within the United States of America. The Red Plot narrates HUAC’s meticulous work— names and dates, details and wrangling— which had been underway since 1938 and in which Stripling had been a prime mover.
With America touched by the same totalitarian trends that had been blowing through Europe since the 1920s, HUAC was the premier governmental body to wage what I suggest we regard as the “culture war” of what (perhaps too hastily) has since been lauded as “the Greatest Generation.” More to the point, HUAC was the scene of that generation’s most charged political theater. Congress had created the Committee in the 1930s to publicly gather information on, primarily, American Nazis, Klansmen, and other homegrown fascists. Only later, as Communism’s wide scope and insidious nature became apparent, did HUAC set out to expose the vast leftwing conspiracy of its American operations, a conspiracy propagated by both card-carrying members and fellow-traveling sympathizers.
Then—as now—moments of battlefield sacrifice and triumph could not, by themselves, efface grave civilizational uncertainties. On one hand, in 1946 Winston Churchill had delivered his Iron Curtain speech demarcating the line between the free and Communist worlds. Beginning in the summer of 1948 Whittaker Chambers had delivered (“more or less by chance,” as Stripling relates) damning testimony about the Communist cell that had operated within successive Roosevelt Administrations and even in the newly-formed United Nations. On the other hand, that same fall breakaway Democrat Henry Wallace’s presidential campaign with the “Progressive Party,” which fronted for the American Communist Party, had received over 1.1 million votes (more than half, not surprisingly, coming from New York and California). Similar to today’s neoconservative priorities—of overhauling post-Cold War American attitudes to one-time geopolitical partners such as Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, the Palestinian Authority, and the Saudi royal family—Stripling sensed, during his own era of unsettling realignments, a gap in our discourse vis-a-vis Communism. And he raced to fill it.
Note well that when The Red Plot was being written, the junior senator from Wisconsin, Joseph McCarthy, was still just a blip on the national radar. Goaded, perhaps, by the force of Stripling’s argument—which voiced frustration at the many obstacles placed in HUAC’s way, including those from the Roosevelt White House—McCarthy went on the offensive in the year following the book’s publication, delivering his famous “Enemies Within” speech in February 1950.
Yet The Red Plot Against America contains nothing that is “McCarthyite” and everything that is “Striplingite.” It is a substantive rendering in plain, everyday English of the hard, often thankless, often vilified investigation into the American social fabric when European civilization was collapsing for the second time in 30 years. This work was undertaken—transparently and vigorously—by a small group of freedom-loving Americans in Washington, DC in order to preserve the integrity, viability, and endurance of the land Lincoln described as “the last best hope of Earth.”
Similarities to today’s fight against Islamist infiltration and subversion of the West, a fight waged in large part on the Internet—and just a portion of the Internet at that—will, or should, be self-evident. A revival of HUAC in our time, in spirit and perhaps also in form, should be on the table. It’s a matter of hard-nosed common sense and good governance. My principal concern, frankly, would be not for the mission of such a federal committee, but for the mettle of the members selected (or who would offer) to serve on it.
Not! It didn’t work except to imagine a Red under every Bed! We already have the ironically named “Patriot Act” to remove civil liberties. All we need is a HUAC to define what it means to be American. I thought the NRA was supposed to do that. Or Ron Paul.
Lifetime conservatives typically trumpet America’s Cold War victory against the Soviet Union, a victory won despite decades of liberal opposition. Such conservatives have bragging rights, I guess. Thus Ann Coulter can pose for a photo at Senator McCarthy’s grave and suggest, as she did at CPAC 2007, that student Republicans form “Joe McCarthy clubs” on college campuses. But bragging rights bring with them even bigger responsibilities. During our post-Cold War era there are many parallels to be observed and lessons to be learned from the “culture war” that was underway before the Cold War had even begun.
It saddens me that the neocons, the ultra right are so paranoid that they would even think about suggesting that President Obama would be soft on communism, much less that he buys into a “communist agenda” whatever that means. Oh, Mr. On-The-Right, whose agenda? North Korea? Vietnam? China? Venezuela? Cuba? I’m sure you can find an agenda they all follow can’t you?
Bah, humbug! Let’s devote energy to making the country truly secure and not resurrecting a bugaboo already demonstrated to the world to be “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” Oh, you mean it’s not communism that worries you but extremism Islam? And where did that extremism come from? What do you know about the history of Iran? And Palestine? So you want to do a witch hunt for anyone who might be soft on Islam? That’s being American?