Notes from Home: Red Scare

By Trudy Wischemann

When I was a little girl, perhaps even before kindergarten, I asked my mother why we need money. “Why isn’t it,” I clearly remember asking her, “like, if you’re a carpenter and I’m a plumber, and I need my house built and you need your bathroom fixed, why we don’t just trade?” 

My question disturbed her, and she answered abruptly, “Why, because that would be Communism!” True, it was the McCarthy Era, when looking even a little pink could get you on the CIA’s list. But I remember the feeling of being cut off, shushed rather than answered.

Given where my life has gone, my mother was probably right to be alarmed. When I speak about the need to limit the amount of land one person can or should own, as in the 160-acre limitation of federal Reclamation Law established in 1902, I get the same reply: why, that would be communism.

I mention this simply to indicate that the fears of communism are still with us. They’re in our bones, like the traces of Teflon chemicals from that same time we ingested without knowing it. And yet something is muting those fears in Trump supporters, the very people most likely to throw the “pinko commie” label in my face for my positions on land.

Many of you Trump supporters may not have been able to listen intently to Adam Schiff and the other House impeachment trial managers last week, any more than I’ll be able to listen to the President’s attorneys this week. At the moment of this writing, the trial’s outcome is still unclear. By the time this goes to print, the trial may be over or we may be calling more witnesses. But I need to tell you, whether you want to hear it or not, that the story discovered and revealed from the House impeachment hearings is not just disturbing, but terrifying. The Red Scare I was teethed on, and baptized in, has raised its ugly head once again.

Sometime during one of Adam Schiff’s presentations, the problem of Donald Trump’s self-interest became clear: it makes him a pawn in Vladmir Putin’s hands. In failing to help the Ukranians, in holding them over a barrel until they cried uncle and did what DJT wanted—or, until he got found out—he wasn’t just being a bully to one of our more vulnerable allies and breaking our laws right and left. He was aiding the enemy, not just Ukraine’s, but every other Russian neighbor’s. Putin easily could become our military enemy if we are called to defend those neighbors before we become the target of Russia’s aggressions ourselves.

Trump was not just serving himself, he was aiding Vladimir Putin, which, to me, borders on treason. That charge may not have been made formally because Vladimir Putin is not technically our enemy. But he certainly is not our friend. His human rights record makes him someone to mistrust; his form of government is contrary to ours, undemocratic, anti-religious, denying freedoms of speech and others we take for granted. After the Russian government shakedown last week, his power appears to be growing. The reality of another war for democracy now hovers in my mind. The Red Scare I was raised in now looks like a potential reality, looming on the horizon.

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