Red Scare: Rise of Mccarthyism

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Hysteria, pandemonium, chaos, words that attempt to describe the state of America during the horrific period known to history as the "Red Scare". A coup of power in American life was recently completed in Senator Joseph McCarthy's rise to national attention as "judge, jury, prosecutor, castigator, and press agent, all in one." (Army-McCarthy Hearings) The Wisconsin Republican Senator was successfully trampling the State Department and other federal agencies, filling each day's headlines with new accusations of Communists inside American society. Perhaps the biggest change in communication, the television, was just now coming into trend. Notably successful in spreading both news and hysteria, it would prove to be crucial during McCarthy's reign and his subsequent downfall. McCarthy's unceasing avalanche of panic came at a time where many Americans were indeed concerned with or totally in fear of Communism. Less than a year after the conclusion of combat in Korea, the American nation was increasingly on the lookout for possible "Reds". (Joe McCarthy) The recent electrocutions of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg for espionage during World War II had hardened American's beliefs about espionage. America's once kind neighborhoods had been transformed into hardened trench lines full of false accusations and neighbor's turning one another in as possible Communist infiltrators. (Morgan, 290) In reality, no American was safe, not even the highest government officials from the grasp of Senator McCarthy. Yet the saving grace of America lay in a quiet yet firm Boston lawyer, Mr. Joseph Nye Welch. In the spring of 1954, McCarthy commenced the now famous Army-McCarthy hearings, during which he made charges of lax security at a top-secret military facility. It was during these crucial hearings when Welch boldly stood his ground against the perceivably unstoppable Senator. Therefore, due to Welch's stand against McCarthy America was liberated from McCarthy's reign. The days following the hearing's conclusion resulted in an eruption of support and gratitude for Welch's work well done. (Oshinsky, 170) McCarthy's once mighty engine of power and control suddenly run out of steam.

Before the important proceedings of June 9th 1954 can be analyzed, it is beneficial to understand the general atmosphere of America during the era of McCarthyism. In full swing was the practice of bomb drills, construction of the hydrogen bomb, and fear of "Godless communism". (Schrecker, 198) It was under these circumstances that Senator McCarthy thrived and rose to immense power in the nation's eyes. (Cohen, 24)

Internationally speaking, the United States of America was in a constant state of action. The "Domino Theory" was the main reasoning behind America's outpouring of troops, supplies, and money to nations on the verge of collapse to hated Communism. With the recent ending of the War of Liberation in China ending in the Communists prevailing, America was determined to ensure no other beneficial foreign powers succumbed to the "red side". (Joe McCarthy) The Korean had also taken its toll on our nation, being only one of the conflicts attributed to the proxy war between the United States and the Soviet Union. This nearly unanimous fear of communist expansion and influence in our world is what empowered Senator McCarthy; as he used the public's emotion to his advantage in his quest for dominance in the federal government. In 1938, Congress had created the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). (The Second "Red Scare") The committee's ensuing attack on Hollywood saw the creating of infamous "blacklists" which labeled anyone possibly of being "sympathetic to Communism". (Herman, 220) Investigations performed by McCarthy's own committee, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI), were notorious for their prying and ruthless demoralization of suspects effectively ruining the lives of most whom were convicted, despite a verdict...
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