McCarthyism

This essay has a total of 3112 words and 14 pages.

McCarthyism




Vivian Gonzalez
Mr. Martinez-Ramos
A.P. United States History
May 3, 2000

McCarthyism was one of the saddest events of American history. It destroyed people’s lives and shattered many families. It threw innocent people into a whirlwind of mass confusion and fictional portrayals of their lives. McCarthyism spawned for the country’s new found terror of Communism known as the red scare. McCarthyism was an extreme version of the red scare, a scare whose ends did not justify the means.
The Red Scare happened twice in the history of this great country. When the communist took over Russia in 1919, the American people were unnerved. They were afraid of a communist take over in the states. When the First World War ended in 1918, there was still an ideological war going on in a very divided United States. “The red scare was another sort of war—one against dissent and nonconformity. It changed the psyche and face of the United States as surely as did World War Two (Fariello, 24). This was a time in American History where panic and terror controlled the lives and the laws of this country (Fariello, 28).
When in 1919 the newly appointed Attorney General, A. Mitchel Palmer, was abruptly awoken from his house by a bomb, everyone was seeing red, so to speak. Instantaneously fingers were being pointed in the immediate direction of the Communist Party. The Communist Party had reason, good reason to go after Palmer. He had used legislation passed in 1917 to deport many “communist” that were a threat to the American way of life. As was clearly seen in the Legislation passed in 1952. The Immigration and Nationality Act tightened previous restriction on aliens and heavily reduced immigration from nonwhites countries. It allowed for the denaturalization and deportation of citizens deemed “subversive,” as well as the deportation of residents aliens for political activity. Removed deportation case from the courts by setting up own board unhampered by due process(Fariello, 18).
American politicians were under the distorted impression that everyone that was not Anglo-American or came from Western Europe was a threat to national security. In response to this they passed a series of laws declining the immigration of people from Eastern and Southern Europe. They also passed laws deporting many of our own residents because of fear. "In the nineteenth century there were men of Anglo-Saxon stock who came to regard the American mission as their particular inheritance and who feared the subversive effects of immigration and the alien political ideas that were thereby introduced." (Heale, p. 127)
Fear is the most primal instinct. It causes people to do and act in certain ways in which they are not accustomed. It can turn brother against brother, neighbor against neighbor, politician against politician, and country against country. Fear instigates panic. It was that panic that prompted the Palmer Raids.
The Palmer Raids were started by A. Mitchel Palmer. He felt that in order to keep the American values in tact communism had to be out of the picture. Palmer believed that communism was “eating its way into the American workman”. He thought it was the root of all evils in his society. Palmer felt that communism was “seeking to replace marriage vows with libertine laws, burning up the foundations of society”.
In December of 1919, in their most famous act, Palmer's agents seized 249 resident aliens. Those seized were placed on board a ship, the Buford, bound for the Soviet Union. Deportees included Emma Goldman the feminist, anarchist and writer who later recalled the deportation in her autobiography.
Another reason for the Red Scare was the strike held by mine workers. They were thought to be making threatening moves against the Capitalist system through subversive Socialist organizations. These strikes were part of a series of events taking place in 1919. This strike, which occurred in February, consisted of 60,000 coal mine workers. In September, steel workers were on strike. All of the available blame was put upon the American Communists, although many communists tried to oppose this strike. It really did not matter if they had nothing to do with the strikes, in their minds anything that went wrong in the perfect society of the United States was the work of the Communist.
Palmer and his associates were bordering on infringing the people’s civil rights. Much like Janet Reno in the recent Elian Gonzalez case. But in the minds of the anti-communist the end justified the means. The "Red Scare" reflected the same anxiety about free speech and obsession with consensus that had characterized the war years. In the case of “The Most brainiest man”, a Connecticut clothing salesman was sentenced to sixth months in jail simply for saying Lenin was smart. Free Speech in the time of the Red Scare was almost illegal.
The first red scare was set-aside in the mist of prosperity, and eventually war. In 1941 World War II started. Although the Americans were allied with Stalin, the communist dictator of Russia, the old fears of a communist take over resurged. As a result “ everything changed after the Second World War. The ally Russia became an enemy. Anybody who had sympathy became a suspect”. A man spent twenty-five years in prison, because he was the local chairperson, had studied in Moscow and fought in Spain. It was like he was “the devil himself”. And so it was that in the 1950’s a revival of the Red Scare appeared.
The American Legislative system reacted much has they had in the past. They worked much in the same right as Palmer, as far as unconstitutional practices were concerned. “American Foreign policy was a mirror image of Russian Foreign policy: whatever the Russians did, we did in reverse. American domestic policies were conducted under a kind of upside-down Russian veto.”
Before the War no legislation regarding communism was passed by congress. So workers in Unions were legally allowed to be Communists. A bill in Congress, called the Taft-Hartley Act, passed the first restriction on people entering the Unions in 1947. One provision stated that a worker must swear that he is not, and was not a communist, before entering a Union.
The politicians were going to great lengths to keep this country an anti-communist and anti Russia society. They also set up a series of laws to keep every politician in American anti-communist. One could not run for office during the Red Scare, unless one was on the record a self-professed Russian hater. The paranoia was everywhere. “There are today many Communists in America. They are everywhere – In factories, offices, butcher stores, on street corners, in private businesses. And each carries in himself the germ of death for society (McGrath).”
In the mist of all the confusion of who was a communist and who was loyal and a young upstart senator from Wisconsin came to play. His name was Joseph McCarthy. He launched was would be later referred to as the McCarthy Era. “While convenient, this tribute is not without cause. McCarthy’s villainy was so plain that his name became a malediction in the very year of his ascendancy.”
Joseph Raymond McCarthy was born in 1908 on a family farm in Outagamie County, Wisconsin. His parents were devout Catholics and told their nine children that "you shall live by the sweat of your brow." He went to a country school until grade eight, and at the age of nineteen became the manager of a grocery store in Manawa, a town thirty miles away. He was a popular person and the store was very profitable. Then it was suggested by some friends that he go to high school, and in one year he crammed a full high school education, and he was at the top of the class. He enrolled in Marquette University in Milwaukee, where he graduated as a lawyer.
McCarthy then set up a law practice in Waupaca, a nearby town, and it is reported that he took only four cases in nine months. At that time, he went to work in Shawano for Mike Eberlein. They worked together for three years until McCarty won the judgeship for the Tenth District of the Wisconsin Circuit Court.
Although he was exempt from the draft because of his public position, in 1942 he entered the Marine Corps. In his two years as a first lieutenant, he went on a number of flying missions and broke his leg on a ship during a party and gained a lot of good press along the way.
In 1944 he unsuccessfully ran against Alexander Wiley for a senatorial seat from Wisconsin, and began planning to defeat Robert La Follette, Jr., whose seat was up for re-election in two years. La Follette was a Republican, and so was McCarthy, so the real race would be for the primary.
McCarty's campaign used lots of money. He sent letters and postcards to almost everyone in Wisconsin, made half a dozen speeches a day, and attacked La Follette ruthlessly. The luck happened to be that his opponent chose to sit on his laurels, and only campaigned for a few weeks. McCarthy just barely won the GOP nomination, 207,935 to 202,539. Interestingly enough, he got the labor vote, whi

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