McCarthyism and the
Salem Witch trials.
March 2, 2013
During the 1950’s McCarthyism arose as paranoia about communism in the United States. McCarthyism named after Senator Joseph McCarthy is the practice of making accusations of disloyalty, subversion, or treason without proper regard for evidence. It also means "the practice of making unfair allegations or using unfair investigative techniques, especially in order to restrict dissent or political criticism. In The Crucible, Arthur Miller draws a parallel between the Salem Witch trials of 1692 and McCarthyism of the 1950s, when communism became the devil and a community of people used “evil” as an excuse to take out their personal spite on those they had always wished ill. Miller sets up the parallel by showing Salem to be a theocracy, which would make the devil and those communing with him enemies of the town; it follows that America, then, is a democracy, which would make communism the modern devil and communists enemies of America (“The House of Un-American Activities”). Reverend Hale’s books are similar to the books, lists, and pamphlets of the McCarthy era that listed communists. The climate of fear in the 1950’s of communism in the United States was in part caused by the effects of the Korean War. The Korean War was one of several military conflicts that occurred during the Cold War, as the United States and its allies attempted to stop the spread of communism. The Korean War was the direct result of the splitting of Korea after WWII into two zones, the communist North, and the democratic South. The United States feared the spreading of communism because America was just coming out of WWII and saw the Soviet Union emerging as a super power. If Communist forces were allowed to expand their power it is said that it may create a domino effect which was a theory in the 1950’s that speculated that if one region came under the influence of communism, then the surrounding countries would follow in a domino effect. This frightened Americans because their political systems were different, meaning that conflict is unavoidable. To preserve democracy and stop communist so that they wouldn’t have to go through another dictatorship. America and other democratic nations sent troops to fight communist China, the USSR, and North Korea. The war helped preserve the essence of democracy over communism throughout the world. The loss of the American nuclear monopoly also contributed to a fear of communism in the United States because the Russians had acquired information through a spy and had developed nuclear weapons. With the U.S no longer only with the knowledge of the Atomic Bomb this led a rise in fear in the citizens and a paranoia gripped the public. Also with Russian becoming a nuclear power this led to the fear of a bomb being dropped at anytime and anywhere. In response to this fear bomb shelters were made everywhere so that individuals could be prepared and feel safer if one was to ever be dropped on the country. In response to the Paranoia that gripped the nation McCarthyism arose to get rid of communists. It is a term describing the intense anti-communist suspicion in the United States in a period that lasted roughly from the late 1940s to the late 1950s. This period is also referred to as the Second Red Scare, and coincided with increased fears about communist influence on American institutions. Senator McCarthy was a demagogue he was a leader that used popular prejudices and false claims and promises in order to gain power The term “McCarthyism” was used to criticize the acts of the senator but later took on a more widespread meaning which is the use of reckless and unfair accusations so that political disloyalty could be hidden. Joseph McCarthy was elected to the United States Senate in an upset victory over incumbent Senator Robert La Follette, Jr....
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