A new era of McCarthyism is rising in the United States and impacting journalists and media outlets around the world. Fabricated charges and economic sanctions being used to target free speech and press freedom are creating a hostile environment for those who challenge and expose people in power. This is a critical time to understand the attacks on our right to know and what tools are available for both media and advocates to fight back.
To provide a greater understanding of what is happening, the US Peace Council hosted a webinar on Sunday, November 12 called “The Rise of the New McCarthyism in the United States.” Speakers included experts in law, history and social movements.
The repression against and silencing of dissent in this country has ramifications beyond our border. It creates an environment that normalizes and rationalizes these attacks on our fundamental rights to know what is going on and to speak out about it. Repression takes many forms from violating basic rights of press freedom through raids of offices, seizures of equipment and manufactured charges to economic sanctions against social movement activities to designating people who work to protect our human and civil rights to safety and health, to living in dignity and to a just and fair judicial process as some sort of threat.
We know that our rights are not given to us but must be won and defended through struggle. This webinar will provide you with some historical context to inform our strategy, some examples of McCarthyism so we may recognize its various forms and some encouragement to be active to confront the assaults on our rights and importantly to support each other through this turbulent period.
Dr. Gerald Horne holds the Moores Professorship of History and African American Studies at the University of Houston and is the author of more than 30 books. His research has addressed issues of racism in a variety of relations involving labor, politics, civil rights, international relations and war. In his book, “The Final Victim of the Blacklist: John Howard Lawson, Dean of the Hollywood Ten,” published in 2006, Dr. Horne describes the evolution and machinations of McCarthyism and anti-Semitism in the United States. Dr. Gerald Horne spoke about the history of McCarthyism in the United States and its connections to colonization.
Chairman Omali Yeshitela has fought for the liberation of Africa and African people here and around the world for more than 50 years, having been a member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in the 1960s and forming the African People’s Socialist Party in 1972. He built the mass movement for reparations, holding the World Tribunal on Reparations to African People in 1982, and led the world in making “reparations” a household word. He has taken the movement beyond protest creating over 50 institutions as the infrastructure for the liberated African workers’ economy including the Black Power Blueprint in North St. Louis. The Chairman is the author of many books, including his most recent book: “Vanguard: The Advanced Detachment of the African Revolution!” and has spoken all over the world. In 2019 Chairman Omali won the debate at the Oxford Union on building a closer African union.
Chairman Omali spoke about the current federal indictment against him and two other members of the Uhuru Movement.
Vijay Prashad is an Indian historian and journalist. He is the author of forty books. Vijay is the executive director of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research, the chief correspondent for Globetrotter, and the chief editor of LeftWord Books. Vijay spoke about the global impact of the New York Times’ attacks on Leftists and how the new McCarthyism affects social movements.
*Chip Gibbons is an expert on US Constitutional law, a journalist and researcher focusing on the US national security state, and a longtime activist. He leads Defending Rights & Dissent’s work exposing threats to political expression posed by US national security policy, as well as defending the right to protest. Chip has advised both state and federal lawmakers on the First Amendment implications of pending legislation. He is a frequently cited expert on the history of FBI political surveillance and the impact of the Espionage Act on press freedoms. Chip is currently working on a book on the history of the FBI exploring the relationship between domestic political surveillance and the emergence of the US national security state. Titled The Imperial Bureau, it is expected to be published by Verso in 2025. Chip spoke about current retaliation against supporters of the Palestinian struggle.
Rainey Reitman serves as president of the board of Freedom of the Press Foundation. She worked for the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) for 11 years. Rainey also co-founded and served for six years as a steering committee member of the Chelsea Manning Support Network. She currently serves as a board member for the Filecoin Foundation for the Decentralized Web and runs a nonprofit consulting service called Groundwork Strategy. Rainey’s advocacy has focused on defending the rights of whistleblowers, fighting mass government surveillance, and investigating how limiting access to financial services has been used to silence speakers. Rainey spoke about Julian Assange and the hostility toward independent journalism as well as the Press Freedom Tracker.
*Chip Gibbons filled in for Chris Hedges, who travelled on short notice to Western Asia to cover the attack on Palestine.