Friday, February 09, 2007

February 9

John Hooper, Anglican bishop of Gloucester and Worcester, was burnt at the stake on this date in 1555. During his last decade of life, Hooper was a prolific author, publishing such page-turners as An Answer to my Lord of Wynchesters Booke Intytlyd a Detection of the Devyls Sophistry (1547), A Declaration of Christ and his Office (1547), A Declaration of the Ten Holy Commandments (1548), and A godly Confession and protestacion of the Christian faith (1551). Hooper was numbered among the nearly two dozen “Marian martyrs” -- Protestants who were roasted alive during the short reign of Queen Mary I, who sought to restore the Catholic faith to England.

A forerunner of English Puritanism, Hooper was so opposed to the remnants of Catholic practice that he nearly got himself killed several years before when he initially refused to wear the modest vestments of the Anglican Church during his consecration as Bishop. After much controversy, he ultimately relented and agreed to wear the cope and surplice during the ceremony, although his stubborn adherence to his faith was hardly diminished. When the Protestant King Edward VI died, Hooper was quickly arrested after Mary Tudor ascended to the throne. First detained on a spurious charge of debt, he was ultimately accused of heresy and condemned to die. In January 1555, three weeks before his appointment with the stake, Hooper wrote a letter to several friends, reassuring them that he carried no regrets:
Imprisonment is painful; but yet liberty upon evil conditions is more painful. The prisons stink, but yet not so much as sweet houses where the feat and true honor of God lacketh. I must be alone and solitary; it is better so to be, and have got with me, than to be in company with the wicked.


Nearly 400 years later, on 9 February 1950, Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy delivered a Lincoln Day address to an audience in Wheeling, West Virginia. Toward the end of the speech, the Senator tried to account for what he described as the world’s rapid slide toward totalitarianism. Blame for catastrophe, he argued, could be laid at the feet of America’s diplomats and other cosmopolitan elites.
The reason why we find ourselves in a position of impotency is not because our only powerful potential enemy has sent men to invade our shores . . . but rather because of the traitorous actions of those who have been treated so well by this Nation. It has not been the less fortunate, or members of minority groups who have been traitorous to this Nation, but rather those who have had all the benefits that the wealthiest Nation on earth has had to offer . . . the finest homes, the finest college education and the finest jobs in government we can give.

This is glaringly true in the State Department. There the bright young men who are born with silver spoons in their mouths are the ones who have been most traitorous. . . .

I have here in my hand a list of 205 . . . a list of names that were made known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist Party and who nevertheless are still working and shaping policy in the State Department. . . .
Within four years, McCarthy’s grotesque campaign against “internal subversion” had earned the support of 50% of the country, who seemed to appreciate his sloppy and irresponsible accusations. By the end of 1954, however, McCarthy’s career lay in near ruins. Censured by his colleagues and upbraided by Army attorney general Joseph Welch in a Senate hearing covered on national television, McCarthy was also denounced repeatedly by Edward R. Murrow, the most influential journalist of his era. Less than three years later, McCarthy had drank himself to death.

McCarthy photo credit
Hooper woodcut here

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