Margaret Chase Smith's "Declaration of Conscience" (1950)

Margaret Chase Smith's address to the US Senate on June 1, 1950 was a "Declaration of Conscience" in response to Joseph R. McCarthy's accusations about Communist subversives in the government. The overall tone shames the other senators into soul searching. It expresses the hope that the government will find its way back to upholding the individual freedoms that unite and strengthen America.
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definitions & notes only words
  1. obscure
    make unclear
    I speak as simply as possible because the issue is too great to be obscured by eloquence.
  2. debase
    corrupt morally or by intemperance or sensuality
    The United States Senate has long enjoyed worldwide respect as the greatest deliberative body in the world. But recently that deliberative character has too often been debased to the level of a forum of hate and character assassination sheltered by the shield of congressional immunity.
  3. impute
    attribute to a cause or source
    It is ironical that we Senators can in debate in the Senate directly or indirectly, by any form of words, impute to any American who is not a Senator any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming an American--and without that non-Senator American having any legal redress against us--yet if we say the same thing in the Senate about our colleagues we can be stopped on the grounds of being out of order.
  4. conscience
    motivation deriving from ethical or moral principles
    I think that it is high time for the United States Senate and its members to do some soul-searching--for us to weigh our consciences--on the manner in which we are performing our duty to the people of America--on the manner in which we are using or abusing our individual powers and privileges.
  5. distinction
    a discrimination between things as different
    Whether it be a criminal prosecution in court or a character prosecution in the Senate, there is little practical distinction when the life of a person has been ruined.
  6. sufficient
    of a quantity that can fulfill a need or requirement
    The record of the present Democratic administration has provided us with sufficient campaign issues without the necessity of resorting to political smears.
  7. complacency
    the feeling you have when you are satisfied with yourself
    The Democratic administration has greatly lost the confidence of the American people by its complacency to the threat of communism here at home and the leak of vital secrets to Russia through key officials of the Democratic administration.
  8. dilute
    reduced in strength or concentration or quality or purity
    There are enough proved cases to make this point without diluting our criticism with unproved charges.
  9. integrity
    moral soundness
    Yet to displace it with a Republican regime embracing a philosophy that lacks political integrity or intellectual honesty would prove equally disastrous to this nation.
  10. calumny
    a false accusation of an offense
    But I don’t want to see the Republican Party ride to political victory on the Four Horsemen of Calumny--Fear, Ignorance, Bigotry, and Smear.
  11. fleeting
    lasting for a markedly brief time
    While it might be a fleeting victory for the Republican Party, it would be a more lasting defeat for the American people.
  12. allay
    lessen the intensity of or calm
    But we do have the responsibility of rendering constructive criticism, of clarifying issues, of allaying fears by acting as responsible citizens.
  13. mangle
    destroy or injure severely
    As a woman, I wonder how the mothers, wives, sisters, and daughters feel about the way in which members of their families have been politically mangled in the Senate debate--and I use the word "debate" advisedly.
  14. vilification
    slanderous defamation
    I don’t like the way the Senate has been made a rendezvous for vilification, for selfish political gain at the sacrifice of individual reputations and national unity.
  15. immunity
    an act exempting someone
    I am not proud of the way we smear outsiders from the Floor of the Senate and hide behind the cloak of congressional immunity and still place ourselves beyond criticism on the Floor of the Senate.
  16. fascist
    an adherent of right-wing authoritarian views
    As an American, I condemn a Republican " Fascist" just as much I condemn a Democratic "Communist."
  17. contradictory
    not able to be true at the same time
    The Democratic administration has initially created the confusion by its lack of effective leadership, by its contradictory grave warnings and optimistic assurances, by its complacency to the threat of communism here at home, by its oversensitiveness to rightful criticism, by its
    petty bitterness against its critics.
  18. exploitation
    an act that victimizes someone
    Certain elements of the Republican Party have materially added to this confusion in the hopes of riding the Republican Party to victory through the selfish political exploitation of fear, bigotry, ignorance, and intolerance.
  19. undeniable
    not possible to contradict
    To this extent, Democrats and Republicans alike have unwittingly, but undeniably, played directly into the Communist design of "confuse, divide, and conquer."
  20. totalitarian
    of a government with an authority exerting absolute control
    It is high time that we all stopped being tools and victims of totalitarian techniques--techniques that, if continued here unchecked, will surely end what we have come to cherish as the American way of life.

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