Douglas MacArthur

This essay has a total of 2416 words and 9 pages.


Douglas MacArthur





"The tumult and the shouting dies, The captains and the kings depart." -Kipling, The
Recessional Mr. Kipling was wrong. War does not always end with the last cry on the
battlefield. World War I certainly did not. After the war formally ended on November 18,
1918, there was an ideological war still going on in the US. An ideological war which
prompted mass paranoia and caused, among many other things, what would be known as the Red
Scare, which began in 1919 and ended in 1921. Red Scare was the label given to the actions
of legislation, the race riots, and the hatred and persecution of "subversives" and
conscientious objectors during that period of time. It is this hysteria which would find
itself repeated several decades later in history when Senator Joeseph R. Macarthy accused
high government officials and high standing military officers of being communist.
Undoubtedly the most important topic of an investigation into a historical occurrence is
its inception. What caused the Red Scare? At the heart of the Red Scare was the
conscription law of May 18, 1917, which was put in place during World War I for the armed
forces to be able to conscript more Americans. This law caused many problems for the
conscientious objector to WWI, because for one to claim that status, one had to be a
member of a "well-recognized" religious organization which forbade their members to
participation in war. As a result of such unyeilding legislation, 20,000 conscientious
objectors were inducted into the armed forces. Out of these 20,000, 16,000 changed their
minds when they reached military camps, 1300 went to non-combat units, 1200 gained
furloughs to do farm work, and 100 did Quaker relief work in Europe. 500 suffered
court-martial, and out of these, 450 went to prison. However, these numbers are small in
comparison with the 170,000 draft dodgers and 2,810,296 men who were inducted into the
armed forces. Nevertheless, the conscientious objectors were targeted in the Red Scare
after the war. They were condemned as cowards, pro-German socialists, although that was
not everything. They were also accused of spreading propaganda throughout the United
States. Very few conscientious objectors stood up for themselves. Roderick Siedenberg, who
was a conscientious objector, wrote that "to steal, rape, or murder" are standard
peacetime causes for imprisonment, but in time of war "too firm a belief in the words of
Christ", and "too ardent a faith in the brotherhood of man" are more acceptable. Some
organizations such as the National Civil Liberties Bureau, which would later be renamed
the American Civil Liberties Union, took up the task of standing up for the rights of
conscientious objectors. Before the war, the NCLB-ACLU opposed American involvement, and
afterward defended the rights of the objectors. Later, the ACLU would gain a reputation
for helping people with liberal cases who were too poor to pay for their own
representation in court. After the real war ended in 1918, the ideological war, which was
gaining speed at home, turned against conscientious objectors and other radical minorities
such as Wobblies, who were members of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), and
Socialists as well. These Wobblies and Socialists were damned as being subversives who
were trying to overthrow the United States government. Wobblies, in particular, were
persecuted against for speaking out against the capitalist system. Although most of what
they said was only to attract attention to their cause, their rhetoric was taken seriously
by the government and its officials. From the very beginning of the Red Scare, the
Wobblies were the subject of attack by the government, because they were a symbol of
radicalism. The government put in place legislation, not only against the Wobblies, but
also against Socialists and Communists, due to the fact that the government did not
distinguish one of its enemies from another. One such action taken by the government
prevented Wobblies who were not yet citizens from naturalization, even if they quit their
organization. In 1917, the US government made a law which gave the Secretary of Labor the
power to arrest or deport any alien "advocating or teaching" destruction of property or
the "overthrow of government by force." Words such as "advocating" and the vague language
used in the law allowed the government to use deportation as a cure for the
anti-government views of its enemies, namely the Wobblies, Communists, and Socialists.
After all the unfair legislation passed by the government, the scene was set for a
disaster. All that was left was for someone to take advantage of the anti-radical
legislation, and the bomb would soon explode. This is basically what Attorney General A.
Mitchell Palmer did in the years 1919-1920. Palmer used the laws set down in 1917 to
deport members of the IWW. He did not only reserve his weapon for the Wobblies; the
American Communists and many other radical groups were not to be left out. When the Palmer
Raids began, which will be discussed in more detail later, there were two main targets:
the Communist Party, and the Communist Labor Party. These groups grew out of the IWW, the
Socialist Party of America, and the Socialist Labor Party. The largest of the three, the
Socialist Party of America, had split because of a dilemma over World War I. This split
occurred when Europe entered the war. For the most part, American Socialists opposed the
war, unlike their European brethren who were much more nationalistic and supported their
countries armies. However, some of the more prominent American Socialists, each for his
own reasons, strongly supported the war. This break in beliefs of the Socialist Party hurt
it, but did by no means destroy it. Many who were not Socialists opposed the draft, but
the Party itself was the true focal point of this opposition. Accordingly, these people
became targets for attack by American nationalists and the American government. Heinous
acts such as the burning of Socialist documents and the lynching of its members were
commonplace. While all this was taking place, an American Communist Party was emerging
from the ashes of the former Socialist strongholds which were all along the eastern
seaboard of the US. There, Russian immigrants identified with the Bolshevik revolution in
Mother Russia because of their similar lives of poverty and squalor. These conditions of
dispair were in part due to the exclusion of immigrants from unions and their not being
permitted to vote. These people held strong anti-government/anti-capitalist views, often
advocating the immediate overthrow of capitalism. Indeed, they were asking for trouble.
And they would get it. As dangerous as these people appeared to be at the time, they were
in fact only one-thousandth of one percent of the voting American public. Even the two
parties who made up this minute percentage of voters were riddled with corruption and
dissent. After the war formally ended in 1918, all the groups which opposed the war came
under fire. They were seen as destructive to the peace and security of the American
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