Wednesday, November 21, 2007

McCarthyism and one very ordinary American

I was just reading the Boston Globe and came across the obituary for Milo Radulovich, whom many of you will remember as the fellow in the Edward R. Murrow compilation who was in danger of being mustered out of the Air Force because his father and sister read what were alleged to be Communist newspapers. Here is the text of the obit:

DETROIT - Milo Radulovich, the Air Force Reserve lieutenant championed by Edward R. Murrow when the military threatened to decommission him during the anticommunist crackdown of the 1950s, has died. He was 81.

Mr. Radulovich died Monday in Vallejo, Calif., after complications of a stroke, family members said. He was 81.

He served as a consultant on the 2005 film "Good Night, and Good Luck," which dramatized Murrow's journalistic challenge to Senator Joseph McCarthy. The movie included the Radulovich case and the 1954 Army-McCarthy hearings that led to the senator's downfall.

Mr. Radulovich was born in Detroit, joined the Air Force Reserves, worked as a meteorologist in Greenland, and then enrolled at the University of Michigan on the GI Bill.

In 1953, the Air Force threatened to decommission him on grounds that he maintained a "close and continuing relationship" with his father and sister. The military said they were suspect because of the father's subscription to a Serbian newspaper and his sister's political activities.

Mr. Radulovich refused the military's demand that he denounce his relatives and appealed his discharge.

"I couldn't believe it," Mr. Radulovich told The Detroit News in 2005. "No way was I going to repudiate my family. I knew if my case went unresolved, the government could do this to anyone, anywhere. I could see a chain reaction."

Murrow's "See It Now" on CBS aired a segment, "The Case Against Lt. Milo Radulovich," in October 1953. The next month, the Air Force reversed its declaration that Mr. Radulovich was a security risk.

He went on to a career as a meteorologist.

"He was well aware of his historical importance," said his brother-in-law, Al Fishman. "He put his finger in the dike when the flood of McCarthyism inundated the country."

There's a perfect example of how McCarthyism affected an ordinary American. Your relatives read ethnic newspapers--and all members of east European ethnic groups were automatically suspected to be Communists--and your career is ended, or nearly ended because of what they read and believe. That is profoundly un-American and an outrage.

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