Sir, at long last have you no decency, sir?


I read Jeff Jardine’s column in the Modesto Bee on February 17th “Ray Simon’s Cold War memories foster lasting distrust of Putin, motives”  and it gave me such cause for pause that I had to read it several times.

I cannot believe his unapologetic portrait of an agent of McCarthyism, with cultural bigotry against the Russian people and culture exposed in that article.

It is quite an expose on Ray Simon.  It certainly explains the mindset and actions of a man who spread fear and vindictiveness throughout the County for over 30 years.

It may be helpful to recall the definition of McCarthyism:


A vociferous campaign against alleged communists in the US government and other institutions carried out under Senator Joseph McCarthy in the period 1950–54. Many of the accused were blacklisted or lost their jobs, although most did not in fact belong to the Communist Party.  A campaign or practice that endorses the use of unfair allegations and investigations. 

I read with amazement as Ray Simon wistfully and proudly recounted his time in the 1950’s as CIA agent searching for potential Soviet efforts to spread Communism and in the Seattle schools.

Where to start?   The entire McCarthy era is a stain on the American fabric, a lasting embarrassment and shame to Americans of all political persuasions.

McCarthy was a bully who excelled at intimidating witnesses and was evasive in his own responses. The lowest point in the hearing took place when McCarthy attacked a young army lawyer, forcing the army’s chief attorney, Joseph Welch to exclaim, “Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness…Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?”

McCarthy’s vicious antics in the early 1950s ensured that his name forever entered the English lexicon in the form of “McCarthyism” to refer to political witch-hunts – demagogic attacks on the character of opponents and accusations of treason or disloyalty without sufficient regard for evidence.

Note the quote from former Republican President Ronald Reagan:

“Sir, I detest, I abhor their [communists’] philosophy, but I detest more than that their tactics, which are those of the fifth column, and are dishonest, but at the same time I never as a citizen want to see our country become urged, by either fear or resentment of this group, that we ever compromise with any of our democratic principles through that fear or resentment. I still think that democracy can do it.”
– Ronald Reagan, testifying in front of the HUAC as president of the Screen Actors Guild (1947)

Beyond the horrors inflicted on innocent Americans was the clear violation of the CIA In its 1947 charter, where the CIA was prohibited from spying against Americans, in part because President Truman was afraid that the agency would engage in political abuse.

It is common knowledge that the CIA has strayed from its charter several times, such as its infiltration into the peace movement of the 1960’s and in instances since the passage of the Patriot Act.

Having Ray Simon openly and proudly admit his participation in illegal CIA activities is breathtakingly galling.  Even more concerting is the skillsets Ray Simon learned during the tenure of a paranoid agency, during its worst abuses – how were they used locally in business and political manners?

Beyond the pride in his prior abuse of civil liberties, is the stunning manner in which he spits out ethnic slurs and disparaging remarks against Russians, their culture and heritage.   His hatred of “Russkies” as he called them runs so deep that he literally walked out of a Russian musical performance during a Gallo performance by the Modesto Symphony Youth Orchestra (Tchaikovsky • Violin Concerto, Rachmanino • Symphony No. 3).

Dislike of a foreign government is no vice, and certainly Putin’s Russia is one where the government is rapidly sliding back to it cold war abuses of its neighbors and citizens.   However bigotry towards an entire population of a county and its culture is shameful and needs to be called for what it is – racist.