October 03, 2011

Herblock and "McCarthyism"

October 13 (1909) is the birthday of cartoonist Herbert Lawrence Block (aka Herblock), probably most famous for coining the term McCarthyism in a Washington Post cartoon from March 29, 1950.

The cartoon features several Republicans trying to convince the party elephant to stand atop a stack of tar buckets, the top labeled McCarthyism

You can read my entire entry on McCarthyism and Senator Joseph McCarthy here, but perhaps the most interesting fact from the Senator’s experience with the cartoon is that he fully embraced his namesake. He even co-opted it for the title of his book McCarthyism: The Fight for America. However, Herblock always insisted there was “nothing particularly ingenious about the term, which is simply used to represent a national affliction that can hardly be described in any other way.”

Herblock won Pulitzer Prizes in 1942, 1954, and 1979. He died today in 2001 at the age of 91.