McCarthyism in the 1950’s came to an end when an attorney named Joseph Nye Welch, stood up to Senator Joe McCarthy and asked rhetorically: “Senator, have you no shame?” McCarthy who saw a communist under every rock, had turned to accusing opponents often with little evidence. People lost their livelihoods and sometimes their freedom.
It was this simple question, ‘have you no shame?’ which opened up a process of soul searching by citizens and elected officials. With one pointed question, our nation was asked to consider the values that define who we are and more than that, who we strive to become.
Thankfully, enough people took the question to heart. Our democracy turned from fear based behavior, to the values of decency and due process under the law.
We’ve come to such a time. In recent months President Trump and his administration have enforced a ‘Zero-tolerance policy’ that serves to separate children from their parents who are crossing our borders without documentation. Chief of Staff, John Kelly put it this way: “Children would be separated from their parents if their families have been apprehended entering the country illegally, in order to deter more movement along this terribly dangerous border.”
It was reported today that nearly 2,000 children have been removed from their parents in just six weeks. Yesterday in a Washington Post article, Laura Bush spoke out forcibly against this policy: “I live in a border state. I appreciate the need to enforce and protect our international boundaries, but this zero tolerance policy is cruel. It is immoral. And it breaks my heart.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/laura-bush-separating
Could it be that President Trump has finally met his Joe McCarthy moment?
In classic Trump mode, our president is doubling down on his zero-tolerance policy. My hope and prayer is that he has met his match in the American people. Met his match in the collective remembering of our core values.