There is something gentle but powerful about the word decency. When it is used at certain crucial times, it has warmed hearts and changed minds. I know of two times in the history of the United States government that it did just that.

The first happened on June 9, 1954. Senator Joseph McCarthy, chairman of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations reached his scathing best at naming persons he claimed to be despicable, un-American communists. In doing so, he destroyed the professional lives of hundreds of persons in industry, entertainment, and government. Because he struck such fear in the hearts of others, no one felt safe enough to disagree with him in public. On this particular day, McCarthy and his staff members focused on the United States Army. During the hearing, he claimed to possess files on 130 “dangerous” persons. Hearing that, an attorney...

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