Mccarthyism Book Report

This essay has a total of 3222 words and 10 pages.


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, which was dominated by Communists.
He was very fortunate to sneak by, because La Follette was a popular man. His Democratic
foe was to be Professor Howard McMurray. McCarty used his ability to put issues simply,
among other things, to beat his opponent by nearly a 2 to 1 ratio. The Senatorial career
of Joseph R. McCarthy was on its way. In his first three years as senator, McCarthy was an
everyday senator. He was guided by money from lobbyists, and the most interesting of these
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