Hardball with Chris Matthews, 3/21/13, 8:00 PM ET

Matthews: Hunting for traitors is not a good way to unite a country

Chris Matthews shares his thoughts on the witchhunt conservatives like Michele Bachmann have been launching.

Hunting for traitors is not a good way to unite a country

Updated

Let me finish this Friday night with this.

There is one saving grace I give to people like Michele Bachmann: they know not what they do.

The thing is, when the congresswoman from Minnesota says we in the media should conduct an investigation of “anti-American” elements in the House of Representatives, they must not know this kind of thing all happened once before. There was once an active panel in the Congress itself called the House Un-American Activities Committee. HUAC, as it was it was called, carried out all kinds of hearings and probes into anti-American activities in Hollywood and all over the place.

The Congress and America are not proud of that committee. Why? Because it created a lot of mayhem, a lot of suffering, a lot of people’s lives ruined.

Going out there and holding a fishing expedition for people is not a good way to unite a country—or, I have to say, as an anti-Communist, a good way to find traitors. All it does is cause good people to circle the wagons and that tends to protect some bad people along the way while ruining, as I said, the lives of good people.

So we don’t need some “purge” in this country. If a member of Congress is critical of the way we do things in this country, I’d like to think it’s because he or she wants it to be a better country.

There may be someone who manages to get elected to the Congress who secretly hopes to bring this country down. I suppose that’s possible. But don’t count on a bunch of hearings or high-profile “probes” to do the job of finding them.

So I have to say that we’ve been there before, Congresswoman Bachmann. Been there, done that, and nobody who remembers it wants very much to do it again.

Explore:

Hunting for traitors is not a good way to unite a country

Updated