The original HUAC was created in 1938 to detect and neutralize Nazis infiltrating the United States. The panel rooted out loosely-organized cabals with names like the Silver Shirts and the Bundists, underground fascist groups active in the country at the time.
By the end of World War II the panel remained functional, but chose the then-prevalent fear of the Soviet Union and Communists as a justification for their continued utility. The committee launched a full-scale witch-hunt that resulted in the creation of a notorious blacklist of Hollywood notables, left-wing activists, artists, sports figures, musicians, writers, academics and those simply suspected of sympathizing with any cause not considered strictly patriotic. Lives were destroyed, millions of dollars were spent and hundreds of hours of testimony were recorded in a program that was later accused of “doing more damage to the [US] Constitution than the American Communist Party ever did.”
At the end of the McCarthy era, named for the man who almost-singlehandedly spearheaded the proto-fascist inquisition in 1950s, the HUAC was denounced by ex-president Harry S. Truman, who called it “the most un-American thing in the country today.”
The lessons of history have been lost on retiree Gingrich, who spoke of an upgraded HUAC while reaffirming his personal validity on the public stage at the Fox network on Monday.
The former politician, who played a significant role in directing the Bush administration’s foreign policies, compared Nazim with Islamic extremism, and vowed that, if he could, he would strip the citizenship of any American who stated support for Daesh.
This is not the first call from Republicans in recent years for a totalitarian response to the fears of violent religious extremism. Presidential hopeful Donald Trump, who is thought to be considering making use of Gingrich as a vice-president for the latter’s connections to Capitol Hill, has repeatedly called to get “tough, smart and vigilant” on terrorists.
Trump has signaled for HUAC-style programs with his inflammatory remarks on Muslims, including a proposal to create a Muslim database and put all mosques in the US under enhanced surveillance.