“Do remember you are there to fuddle him. The way some of you young fiends talk, anyone would supposed it is our job to teach!” Screwtape
Most history textbooks use the word “McCarthyism” to describe the backlash against Soviet espionage and influence that took place in America from the mid 1940’s to the late 1950’s, despite the fact that Senator Joseph McCarthy played no role in “McCarthyism” until 1950, and his role in it was always limited to Senate hearings.
Joseph McCarthy was never part of the House Un-American Activities Committee. He never had anything to do with blacklisting Communists in Hollywood. He had nothing to do with the 1947 Loyalty Program that cost hundreds of government employees their jobs. He didn’t put Alger Hiss or the Rosenbergs on trial.
The almost universal use of the word “McCarthyism” among college professors and other liberals reflects the desire of people on the political left to discredit the whole anti-Communist movement of that era, through the use of a convenient villain. Senator McCarthy was his own worst enemy at times, and some of his personal failings have made him the right person to use to put a an ugly face on a movement leftists resent.