Dissent from UCSD

, Branislav L. Slantchev, Leave a comment

This is in reference to your article “From the Catalogue” published on the Campus Report online website on March 8, 2005 at
http://www.campusreportonline.net/main/articles.php?id=322. You are simply incorrect in what you infer about the claims I made in the lecture notes and the reason is that you have taken the quote regrettably out of context.

At the end of the article, you have the following:

Closing out the quartet is Branislav L. Slantchev, professor of Political Science at the University of California at San Diego. Dr.Slantchev rewrites the history of the [Senator Joseph R.] for his
students. “He did not succeed in having a single individual convicted of communism,” Dr. Slantchev says of the late Senator Joseph R. McCarthy (R-Wisc.). “He did ruin many.”

Somebody should tell the political scientist that Senate committee chairmen can hold hearings and get information but convictions are up to the U. S. Justice Department and the courts. And, the communist ties of McCarthy’s “victims” are a running theme in their FBI files.

I believe you are referring to my lecture notes available at http://www.polisci.ucsd.edu/~bslantch/courses/nss/lectures/12-sword-and-shield.pdf.

It is not at all clear what you are insinuating in
your piece, but I take it you think I am some sort of left-wing liberal who’s out there to
rewrite history and make the Soviets look good and the Americans all bad. I have to take great exception to this not just because it’s simply untrue but because it runs contrary to what I try to teach my students. My position would have become crystal clear had you bothered to actually read my lecture notes. Since you aparently have neither the inclination nor the decency to do so before making atrocious claims and warning students to avoid my courses, I will spell it out for you here.

  1. The point of section 7 (McCarthy and the Anti-Communist Witch Hunts) is to show how uncertainty and disillusionment can create an environment where paranoia can thrive. The hunts were motivated by the series of shocks the US experienced in 1949 (Soviet a-bomb, loss of China) which had caused some to believe that the US government was infiltrated by communist agents. I am nowhere claiming that communists had not successfully placed spies in the US. As I make it clear to my class, the USSR had, in fact, much more success in recruiting spies than the CIA. Although the Soviets had stolen the plans for the first a-bomb thet detonated, Mao’s victory in China was hardly due to communist sympathizers in the US government.
  2. The big take-away point from this part of the lecture is that nothing, and I repeat NOTHING, excuses McCarthy’s behavior. Why? Because it’s contrary to what America is all about. The ends do not, and should not, justify the means. Hounding people on mere suspicion and ruining them is what the Soviet totalitarian system did, and that’s why the period was so dangerous. The point of saying that the Senator did not succeed in having a single individual convicted is also simple: none of the claims he made or the “proofs” he presented would have stood up in court. Your sarcasm is misplaced, I am well aware of what hearings can and cannot accomplish.

Since you are either too lazy or ill-intentioned to acqaint yourself with the facts before making wild accusations, I will save you the trouble and point you to http://www.polisci.ucsd.edu/~bslantch/courses/nss/lectures/20-evil-empire.pdf, especially the section “Post Mortem on theCold War” that should give you a brief summary of my view on the subject.

To put it simply, I come from behind the Iron Curtain (Bulgaria), and I have lived during the Soviet times. I know what it’s like to live in a communist “paradise.” That’s why I came to America. Please, do not confuse me with some nutcase left-winger who’s afraid to call things by
their names. For reference, perhaps you should read my lectures on the Middle East conflict as well. Come to think of it, perhaps you should read all my lectures and then read my defense of the Iraq War (in the discussion forum, in response to a student query). Maybe you’ll learn

It saddens me that someone like you can distort the truth so much and do it so publicly. What’s even worse is that you and I probably quite agree on what America’s role in history is [given that your other posts rightfully expose the blatant left-wing bias in academia]. I spar with nearly all my colleagues on these things way too often and I am sure they will also be amused to find my name in the context you provide. I have had to bear way too many insults about my so-called “neanderthal” understanding of world politics (because I advocate the use of force when necessary) to have to defend myself against accusations such as yours.

I read your post with dismay and I expect you to
correct it.

Branislav L. Slantchev is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of California, San Diego.