One of the greatest periods of danger for democracy in America's entire history was the 1950's period when Senator Joseph McCarthy (R. Wisconsin) and the House Committee on Un-American activities relentlessly persecuted people accused of being Communist sympathizers, destroying the lives and careers of many innocent people suspected of left wing views.

Just in case anyone thinks that Donald Trump's proposal to ban all Muslims in the world from visiting or immigrating to the US would affect foreign citizens only, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is giving us a timely reminder that scapegoating Muslim immigrants from everywhere in the world for the acts of violence in the US by a small number of disturbed, isolated, individuals who happen to be Muslims but are not part of any terror group, can lead to destroying the rights and freedoms of American citizens too, and not only Muslim US citizens.

The Hill reports on June 14 that Gingrich has proposed bringing back the House Un-American Activities Committee to investigate people who support "Islamic supremacists", and he suggested taking away US citizenship from any "traitor" who pledges allegiance to ISIS.

Certainly, there can be no doubt that anyone who supports or assists ISIS or any other terror group should be investigated and punished according to law. This is why we have the FBI and our intelligence agencies.

But the history of the House Un-American activities shows that the committee went far beyond law enforcement and included wide-ranging harassment of people who had unpopular political views. The Hill describes the history of this committee as one of "terror", in which people who were blacklisted by the committee for their political views had no chance to clear their name and could suddenly find themselves without friends and without a job. See:

Does America really want to bring back an era of repression and persecution, this time directed, not against suspected Communists, but against 3 or 4 million loyal, patriotic American citizens who practice the Muslim religion, or against the millions of other Americans who support the Constitutionally guaranteed rights and freedoms of their Muslim fellow-citizens, just as "pinkos" and Commiesymps" were targeted in the 1950's?

Are the American people ready to give up our democracy in response to the siren song of some political leaders who seek to gain power by preying on the fears and anxieties of average citizens?

Roger Algase
Attorney at Law