Modern Day Witch Hunt

Topics: Industrial Workers of the World, First Red Scare, United States Attorney General Pages: 2 (689 words) Published: March 29, 2010
Modern Day Witch hunt
The First Red Scare began after the Bolshevik Russian Revolution of 1917 and during the First World War (1914–18). Anarchist and left-wing political violence and social agitation aggravated extant national social and political tensions. Historian L.B. Murray reports that the “Red Scare” was “a nation-wide anti-radical hysteria provoked by a mounting fear and anxiety that a Bolshevik revolution in America was imminent — a revolution that would destroy [private] property, Church, home, marriage, civility, and the American way of Life.” Newspapers exacerbated those political fears into xenophobia — because varieties of radical anarchism were perceived as answers to popular poverty; the advocates often were recent European immigrants exercising freedom of speech protected under US law, (cf. hyphenated-Americans). Moreover, the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) effected several labor strikes in 1916 and 1917 that the press portrayed as radical threats to American society inspired by left-wing, foreign agents provocateur; thus, the press misrepresented legitimate labour strikes as “Crimes against society”, “Conspiracies against the government”, and “Plots to establish Communism”. In April 1919, police authorities discovered a plot for mailing thirty six bombs to prominent members of the US political and economic Establishment: J. P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller, Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, US Attorney General Alexander Mitchell Palmer, and immigration officials. On 2 June 1919, in eight cities, eight bombs simultaneously exploded at the same hour. One target was the Washington, D.C., house of US Attorney General Palmer, where the explosion killed the bomber, whom evidence indicated was an Italian-American radical from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Afterwards, Palmer ordered the US Justice Department to launch the Palmer Raids (1919–21) — executed by J. Edgar Hoover, who instructed that said political prisoners be forcefully...
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