McCarthy's death in 1957, the Republican-dominated Wisconsin Senate
said the U.S. Senator acted courageously in his struggle against Communism.
Many historians and commentators, however, judge McCarthy unfavorably.
They say McCarthy convinced millions of Americans to tolerate his unscrupulous
crusade against domestic Communism. His reckless accusations damaged
the careers of some leading public officials and undermined the morale
of many government employees. He hurt American international prestige
and made anti-Communism unpopular.
Americans in the early 1950s saw Communists as a danger to national
security. In fighting that danger, they weighed the effectiveness of
McCarthy's anti-Communist tactics and their impact on civil liberties.
Debate about national security and citizen rights continues today in
a new form. The terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and New York's World
Trade Center towers started a new wave of anxiety.