The media says it thinks that we should bring back McCarthyism. The idea is that if you belong to the “wrong” organization, you should be blacklisted. Which is a nice echo of the 1950s, don’t you think?

Salon gives us a part of it: “the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) found that more than 300 people on a leaked Oath Keepers membership list described themselves as current or former employees of Department of Homeland Security ….”One active law enforcement official joining a militia group is one too many,” Mike German, a former undercover FBI agent who has infiltrated white supremacist and far-right extremist groups, told POGO” And there we have it. Membership in an organization means you should be fired.

Esquire goes further and gets it wrong as it does so: “Association with the Oath Keepers, no matter how casual, should be disqualifying for jobs in federal law enforcement, especially those that involve carrying firearms.”

There’s the get-fired bit again, here’s the wrong part: “Oath Keepers are a fine place to start god’s work in this regard. They are now officially a seditious organization committed to political violence. A D.C. jury has said so.”

No, the jury didn’t.

The actual report from the Feds is here. Some people who were members of the Oath Keepers were found guilty of seditious conspiracy. The organization was found guilty of nothing at all. And whether other members are guilty because some members were has been dealt with by the Supreme Court before now. Over exactly those McCarthyite claims that anyone who was a member of the Communist Party was seditious. The answer is no. It’s necessary to be individually and specifically seditious.

“Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Communist Party?” is not so different from “Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Oath Keepers?”

Well, except back then being a communist was something progressives aspired to, the Oath Keepers not so much.

We’ve been through all of this before, taken it up to the constitutional court, and have the decision. Membership of a group doesn’t cut it. It has to be the individual action that constitutes the guilt – anything else is the return of McCarthyism.

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