"Have You No Sense of Decency"
delivered 9 June 1954 during the Army-McCarthy Hearings in Washington, D.C.
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Senator McCarthy: Mr. Chairman, in view of that request by Mr. --
Senator Mundt: Do you have a point of order?
Senator McCarthy: Not exactly, Mr. Chairman. But in view of Mr. Welch's request that the information be given once we know of anyone who might be performing any work for the Communist Party, I think we should tell him that he has in his law firm a young man named Fisher whom he recommended, incidentally, to do the work on this Committee, who has been, for a number of years, a member of an organization which is named, oh, years and years ago, as the legal bulwark of the Communist Party, an organization which always springs to the defense of anyone who dares to expose Communists.
Senator McCarthy: Knowing that, Mr. Welch, I just felt that I had a duty to respond to your urgent request that "before sundown," when we know of anyone serving the Communist cause we let the agency know. Now, we're now letting you know that your man did belong to this organization for either three or four years, belonged to it long after he was out of law school. And I have hesitated bringing that up, but I have been rather bored with your phony requests to Mr. Cohn here, that he, personally, get every Communist out of Government before sundown. Whether you knew that he was a member of that Communist organization or not, I don't know. I assume you did not, Mr. Welch, because I get the impression that while you are quite an actor, you play for a laugh, I don't think you have any conception of the danger of the Communist Party. I don't think you, yourself, would ever knowingly aid the Communist cause. I think you're unknowingly aiding it when you try to burlesque this hearing in which we're attempting to bring out the facts.
Mr. Welch: Mr. Chairman....
Senator Mundt: The Chair may say that he has no recognition or no memory of Mr. Welch recommending either Mr. Fisher or anybody else as counsel for this Committee.
Senator McCarthy: I refer to the record, Mr. Chairman...to the news story on that.
Mr. Welch: Mr. Chairman. Under these circumstances, I must myself have something approaching a personal privilege.
Senator Mundt: You may have, sir --
Mr. Welch: Senator McCarthy, I did not know, Senator -- Senator, sometimes you say may I have your attention --
Senator McCarthy: I'm listening....
Mr. Welch: May I have your attention?
Senator McCarthy: I can listen with one ear and talk with --
Mr. Welch: No, this time, sir, I want you to listen with both. Senator McCarthy, I think until this moment --
Senator McCarthy: -- Good. Just a minute. Jim, Jim, will you get the news story to the effect that this man belongs to the -- to this Communist front organization....
Mr. Welch: I will tell you that he belonged to it.
Senator McCarthy: Jim, will you get the citation, one of the citations showing that this was the legal arm of the Communist Party, and the length of time that he belonged, and the fact that he was recommended by Mr. Welch. I think that should be in the record....
Mr. Welch: Senator, you won't need anything in the record when I finish telling you this. Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty, or your recklessness. Fred Fisher is a young man who went to the Harvard Law School and came into my firm and is starting what looks to be a brilliant career with us. When I decided to work for this Committee, I asked Jim St. Clair, who sits on my right, to be my first assistant. I said to Jim, "Pick somebody in the firm to work under you that you would like." He chose Fred Fisher, and they came down on an afternoon plane. That night, when we had taken a little stab at trying to see what the case is about, Fred Fisher and Jim St. Clair and I went to dinner together. I then said to these two young men, "Boys, I don't know anything about you, except I've always liked you, but if there's anything funny in the life of either one of you that would hurt anybody in this case, you speak up quick."
Mr. Welch: And Fred Fisher said, "Mr. Welch, when I was in the law school, and for a period of months after, I belonged to the Lawyers' Guild," as you have suggested, Senator. He went on to say, "I am Secretary of the Young Republican's League in Newton with the son of [the] Massachusetts governor, and I have the respect and admiration of my community, and I'm sure I have the respect and admiration of the twenty-five lawyers or so in Hale & Dorr." And I said, "Fred, I just don't think I'm going to ask you to work on the case. If I do, one of these days that will come out, and go over national television, and it will just hurt like the dickens." And so, Senator, I asked him to go back to Boston. Little did I dream you could be so reckless and so cruel as to do an injury to that lad. It is, I regret to say, equally true that I fear he shall always bear a scar needlessly inflicted by you. If it were in my power to forgive you for your reckless cruelty, I would do so. I like to think I'm a gentle man, but your forgiveness will have to come from someone other than me.
Senator McCarthy: Mr. Chairman, may I say that Mr. Welch talks about this being cruel and reckless. He was just baiting. He has been baiting Mr. Cohn here for hours, requesting that Mr. Cohn before sundown get out of any department of the government anyone who is serving the Communist cause. Now, I just give this man's record and I want to say, Mr. Welch, that it had been labeled long before he became a member, as early as 1944 --
Mr. Welch: Senator, may we not drop this? We know he belonged to the Lawyers' Guild.
Senator McCarthy: Let me finish....
Mr. Welch: And Mr. Cohn nods his head at me. I did you, I think, no personal injury, Mr. Cohn?
Mr. Cohn: No, sir.
Mr. Welch: I meant to do you no personal injury.
Mr. Cohn: No, sir.
Mr. Welch: And if I did, I beg your pardon. Let us not assassinate this lad further, Senator.
Senator McCarthy: Let's, let's --
Mr. Welch: You've done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?
Senator McCarthy: I know this hurts you, Mr. Welch.
Mr. Welch: I'll say it hurts!
Senator McCarthy: Mr. Chairman, as point of personal privilege, I'd like to finish this.
Mr. Welch: Senator, I think it hurts you, too, sir.
Senator McCarthy: I'd like to finish this. I know Mr. Cohn would rather not have me go into this. I intend to, however, and Mr. Welch talks about any "sense of decency." I have heard you and everyone else talk so much about laying the truth upon the table. But when I heard the completely phony Mr. Welch, I've been listening now for a long time, he's saying, now "before sundown" you must get these people "out of government." So I just want you to have it very clear, very clear that you were not so serious about that when you tried to recommend this man for this Committee.
Mr. Welch: Mr. McCarthy, I will not discuss this further with you. You have sat within six feet of me and could ask -- could have asked me about Fred Fisher. You have seen fit to bring it out, and if there is a God in heaven, it will do neither you nor your cause any good. I will not discuss it further. I will not ask, Mr. Cohn, any more witnesses. You, Mr. Chairman, may, if you will, call the next witness.
See Also: Released "secret transcripts" at: http://www.gpo.gov/congress/senate/senate12cp107.html
See Also: DVD Docudrama Point of Order
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