Title:                      McCarthy

Author:                   Roy Cohn

Cohn, Roy (1968). McCarthy. New York: New American Library, Inc.

LOC:       68023035

E748.M143 C6

Date Posted:      June 19, 2013

Roy Cohn was the key attorney in the Joe McCarthy anti-communism hearings, a Justice Department attorney, and prosecutor of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. In this book he agrees with many others that McCarthy was a demagogue,a liar and a short tempered person who was irritated by anyone who did not agree with him. He says that the Senator was on a crusade to alert the country to the dangers of communist subversion. This was at a time when the “communist issue” had receded into insignificance. After all the sound and fury of the McCarthy campaign to save the world Cohn is unable to show anything positive that was accomplished. Thousands of hours of work and millions of dollars were wasted on dealing with the cruel and baseless accusations of the Senator. McCarthy also made it difficult to have a realistic discussion of many foreign policy issues.

Cohn says many things that are such distortions of facts that they might also be called lies. Cohn must have known , for example, that Owen Lattimore was not a “conscious, articulate instrument of the Soviet conspiracy”. In other parts of the book Cohen tries to explain his own bad behavior in the McCarthy mess.

Perhaps the book can be called an apology for McCarthy but it seems to be more of a condemnation than anything else.

Cohn clearly exhibited severe anti-gay behavior:

  • Cohn and McCarthy pursued and blacklisted homosexuals as an integral part of their crusade.
  • In the hearings, the two complained many times of “queers” in the government and “powder puff diplomacy,” leading to a subcommittee report on the “Employment of Homosexuals and Other Sex Perverts in Government.”

Roy Cohn never admitted to being gay, but authors of LGBT histories–based on the accounts of Cohn’s friends and peers–conclude there is “no doubt” about his homosexuality. Cohn died of a heart attack related to “underlying HTLV-3 infections,” or complications from AIDS.


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