Denton and Helms: The Enemies Within. Patriotism in Peace

From the Arkansas Gazette

Vol. 4, No. 6, 1982, p. 9

Betty Bumpers' Peace Links may draw from a remarkable episode in the United States Senate impressive reassurance that it is gaining in effectiveness and influence. The Senate, only hours before adjourning, not only adopted a resolution asking President Reagan to declare October 10 Peace Day under Peace Links' auspices but also rose to put down a budding resurgence of McCarthyism.

The touch of McCarthyism was provided by Senator Jeremiah Denton of Alabama, who told the Senate after the resolution was passed that "Four organizations on the Peace Links advisory board are either Soviet controlled or openly sympathetic with, and advocates for, Communist foreign policy objectives."

Courtly rules usually apply during open Senate session, but Senator Denton's outrageous remark appropriately justified an exception to the rule, and senator after senator rose to reject the accusation. Among those rejecting Denton's remark as nonsense were Mrs. Bumper's husband, Senator Dale Bumpers, and Senator Gary Hart of Colorado.

There is absolutely no evidence that Peace Links has any degree of control by or association with Communists, and Senator Denton himself offers no basis for his accusation other than the fact that he said it. (Another demagogic political figure in these parts was fond of remarking that "just because I said it doesn't make it so" but Senator Denton apparently sticks to what he asserts, without aopology.) Denton's staunchest defender during the exchange on the Senate floor, some will say appropriately, was his fellow compatriot of the New Right, Senate Jesse Helms of North Carolina. Even Helms didn't say that Denton knew what he was talking about, but instead criticized those senators who criticized Denton.

Now that Senator Denton's flirtation with McCathysism has been answered on the Senate floor, the episode may turn out to be helpful to Peace Links and to Peace Day for it has called a good deal of attention to both. Peace Links was born out of the purest of motives end it remains guided by the purest of motives by Mrs. Bumpers and others who see it as a way to dampen the growing dangers of a nuclear conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union.

Peace Links will not be discredited by such outrageous attacks as that made by Senator Denton. It is one of many grass-roots organizations that are demanding that steps be taken at the highest political levels to prevent a nuclear war. Peace Links and other like groups are practicing patriotism of a high order.