No place for revival of McCarthyism

A report issued by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence of the United States last month, which was exposed by the media on Tuesday, indicates that US intelligence agencies are sweeping up more phone calls and emails of Chinese Americans.

This reflects the increasing pressure the US intelligence agencies are under to gather information related to China as new China departments have been built in the US Department of Defense, Central Intelligence Agency and Department of State.

To avoid the surveillance affecting civil liberties, the report makes several recommendations, including "expanding unconscious bias training and reiterating internally that federal law bans targeting someone solely due to their ethnicity".

The pressure put on the US intelligence agencies risks a resurgence of the McCarthyism that held sway in the US in the early 1950s when Senator Joseph McCarthy led a campaign to root out supposed communist infiltration in the government and other institutions, which had a fearful public convinced subversive communist influence was all-pervading.

The revival of McCarthyism has the necessary soil in which to take root in US society today, and the advancement of technology only makes the discriminatory practice more insidious and ubiquitous.

Some Chinese American researchers, engineers and scientists in US labs, institutes, companies and universities, even their partners, have already been falsely investigated or charged for alleged spying and threatening US national security. Which is essentially a give-a-dog-a-bad-name-and-hang-it trick.

The red scare of McCarthyism has become "stars on red" scare of Trump and Biden.

During the anti-China hysteria whipped up by the Donald Trump administration, even appliances in US homes that carried the flag for "made in China", including refrigerators and washing machines, were portrayed as agents of the Communist Party of China.

The Trump administration's open labeling of the novel coronavirus as a "China virus" has directly made Chinese Americans as well as many other Asian Americans victims of ethnic hatred and violence.

The Joe Biden administration's red-flag warnings, although directed at the international community rather than the US public per se, have been no less blatantly offensive and harmful.

The neo-McCarthyism that has knee-jerked Washington to snoop on Chinese Americans shows how mired in the ideological past US decision-makers are.

As was shown by the first incarnation of McCarthyism 70-odd years ago, the fear and suspicion being brewed by the anti-China paranoia today are harmful to US society.