In a verbal exchange that has never ceased to be remembered and quoted, Joseph Welch (left) demolishes the mystique
of Sen. Joe McCarthy (far right).
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Not since Army lawyer and American hero Joseph Nye Welch — may his name never be forgotten — famously rebuked communist witch-hunter Sen. Joseph McCarthy, asking him, “Have you no decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?” has one man so quietly, politely, understatedly confronted hectoring power and come away so completely the victor.
Read my words; inscribe them on your memory engrams: The day 23-year-old Cincinnatian Matt Kernan successfully refused to undergo the senseless and demeaning choice of evils offered airline passengers in the name of security, the power of the Transportation Security Administration — and, with it, that of the entire bogus security industry battening on America’s fears in the aftermath of 9/11 — has begun to unravel. As with Sen. McCarthy, it will not fall at once; it may be years before it is entirely exorcised. But fall it will, for a bully once shamed can never recover, never exert the fearful fascination that once made him invincible; nevermore will Americans quail before the almighty apparatus, for they have seen its hidden weakness and they shall never forget.