Senator Flanders speech to the Senate, March 9, 1954

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Speech by U.S. Sen. Ralph Flanders, Republican from Vermont on March 9, 1954

Mr. President, this brief talk is in the nature of advice to the junior Senator from Wisconsin. I had hoped that he would be present. I do not feel constrained to put off the talk in his absence. I find that he is to be in New York today. Not knowing when he can be present, I proceed.

Mr. President, the junior Senator from Wisconsin interests us all – there can be no doubt about that – but also he puzzles some of us. To what party does he belong? Is he a hidden satellite of the Democratic Party, to which he is furnishing so much material for quiet mirth? It does not seem that his republican label can be stuck on very tightly, when, by intention or through ignorance, he is doing his best to shatter the party whose label he wears. He no longer claims or wants any support from the Communist fringe. What is his party affiliation?

One must conclude that he is a one-man party, and that its name is “McCarthyism,” a title which he proudly accepted.

The junior Senator from Vermont finds much to praise and much to deplore in McCarthyism, as he sees it displayed on the national stage. That which is praiseworthy is the vigorous and effective housecleaning which it undertakes.

In January of last year the Republican family moved into quarters which had been occupied by another family for twenty long years. The outgoing family did not clean up before it left. The premises were dirty indeed.

Into these dirty premises the junior Senator from Wisconsin charged with all the energy and enthusiasm of a natural-born housekeeper. He found dirt under the rug. He found dirt behind the chiffonier. He found dirt in all the corners. He found cobwebs and spiders in the cellarway. All this dirt he found and displayed, and the clean-up he personally superintended.

Of course it was not done quietly. In the long years of my life I have come to the conclusion that natural-born housewives seldom work quietly – particularly when cleaning premises left by someone else. There is much clatter and hullabaloo. The neighbors across the backyard fence are apprised of each newly discovered deposit of grime. Much of this in his long life has the junior Senator from Vermont seen and heard, but he has never seen or heard anything to match the dust and racket of this particular job of housecleaning. Perhaps these extremes are necessary if a one-man party is to be kept in the headlines and in the limelight.

Now the question before the nation is this: Is the necessary housecleaning the great task before the United States, or do we face far more dangerous problems, from the serious consideration of which we are being diverted by the dust and racket? It is the deep conviction of the junior Senator from Vermont that we are being diverted, and to an extent dangerous to our future as a nation. He feels called upon to say to the junior Senator from Wisconsin: “Right about face.” Having looked inward for so long, let him now look out outward.

When he and we look outward, what do we see? We see defeat in Korea, and the Iron Curtain moved down the truce line by force of arms, in defiance of the principles and purposes of the United Nations. We find the same aggression pursued in Indochina, with our country assigned to play the part of a supporter of colonialism, and persuaded to enter into negotiations which are foredoomed to parallel, to a greater or less extent, the foreordained conclusions of the Korean truce.

In Europe we see Italy ready to fall into communist hands. We find France irresolute, palsied in thought and action, where her Communists well organized and sure of their ground. Saddest of all, we see Great Britain nibbling at the drugged bait of trade profits, which benumbed her judgments when Japan moved into Manchuria and Mussolini moved into Ethiopia. Then followed, in logical sequence, the fall of the Rhineland, Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Poland, and the Second World War.

Let us look to the south. In Latin America there are sturdy strong-points of freedom. But there are likewise, alas, spreading infections of communism. Whole countries are being taken over. Other countries, not yet captured, are undergoing relentless infiltration.

There is little need to spotlight the other trouble spots in Asia and Africa. If this massive advance is not stemmed, our future place in the world is clearly foreordained. The Iron Curtain, now protecting Communist countries, will be drawn about the United States and Canada, the last remnants of the free world. This will not need to be accomplished by defeating us militarily. It will result from the capture of the rest of the world by infiltration and subversion. We will be left with no place to trade and no place to go except as we are permitted to trade and to go by the Communist masters of the world.

Of course the attack may come from the air – sudden, catastrophic. This is possible, though unlikely, for why should the Soviet Government subject the Russian cities to destruction when it is doing so well by infiltration and subversion? In either case, the dangerous attack is from without, not from within. Look out, Senator, and see what is creeping upon us.

In very truth, the world seems to be mobilizing for the great battle of Armageddon. Now is a crisis in the agelong warfare between God and the Devil for the souls of men.

In this battle of the agelong war, what is the part played by the junior Senator from Wisconsin? He dons his war paint. He goes into his war dance. He emits his war whoops. He goes forth to battle and proudly returns with the scalp of a pink Army dentist. We may assume that this presents the depth and seriousness of Communist penetration in this country at this time.

If he cannot view the larger scene and the real danger, let him return to his housecleaning. Let him sweep out all the dirt that is under the rugs, back of the furniture and in the remotest corners. After he has done all this, let him take a pocket handkerchief and rub over the tops of the doors and window frames. He may find a little dust there too. But let him not so work as to conceal mortal danger in which our country finds itself from the external enemies of mankind.

Let me appeal to him in the words of a great hymn, written by St. Andrew of Crete about the year of our Lord 700:

Christian, dost thou see them
On the holy ground,
How the hosts of darkness
Compass thee around?
Christian, up and smite them,
Counting gain but loss;
Smite them, Christ is with thee,
Soldier of the cross.

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