AMSTU Cold War DBQ Essay
The growing fear of the spread of communism throughout the World during the Cold War era resulted in the United States making brash and misguided decisions stemming from the values of the containment policy. This era was marked by concern that other nations, especially those in the Western Hemisphere, would fall to Soviet influence, and additionally, that there were communist supporters within the United States, potentially in government offices. Americans became increasingly suspicious of anyone with communist ties or interests, past or present, and the government began to take further involvement in the affairs in other nations that seemed at risk to leftist revolts. This compromised the rights and privacy of many innocent Americans, and crossed into the sovereignty of other nations. During the Cold War, America compromised it’s fundamental values and at the expense of it’s own citizens and in the affairs of other nations to increase tension in this era.
Domestically, the United States abandoned its value of privacy and freedom to political beliefs due to growing concern of communism at home, and Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s speeches as well the interrogations through HUAC contributed to this fear. McCarthy, a Republican from Wisconsin, denounced communism and publicly accused members of the State Department and other government positions of being communists. He is quoted in his book, McCarthyism: The Fight For America (1952), “A government job is a privilege, not a right. There is no reason why men who chum with communists...who are consistently found at the time and place where disaster strikes America and success comes to international Communism, should be given positions of power..” (Doc 5). However, McCarthy’s claims were false, and they were part of a publicity stunt for him to gain attention. As a Republican, he faced no communist skepticism, whereas the Democrats did, and he used this tactic to further gain support from the working class republicans. He was impressionable upon many blue collar workers who associated liberals and communists together, and made democrats a bigger target. Although the superficial intentions of McCarthy’s beliefs of keeping communists out of the government were good, they were form of hiding his true goal of ruining the reputations of other politicians. McCarthy later admitted the truth about the fraudulent claims, but damage had been done in rousing unrest and putting other innocent politicians in negative spotlights, against integrity McCarthy was supposed to stand for as a senator. Additionally, the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) held hearings for numerous Americans who were suspected of communist interests. Average middle class Americans to Hollywood writers in the entertainment business were interrogated about their own political beliefs and past experiences as well as those of others. Lillian Hellman, who was jailed for failing to comply with HUAC’s requests, wrote this to the committee, “If I answer the committee's questions about myself...I will [also] have waived my rights under the fifth amendment and could be forced legally to answer questions about others... [answering about others] to save myself is, to me, inhuman and indecent and dishonorable. I am prepared...to tell you everything...if your committee will agree to refrain from asking me to name other people” (Doc Three). HUAC’s hearing policy made it difficult for Americans to withhold information, and even more, they were put in a situation that made them expose private information of others. Hellman’s response to HUAC also included a portion on how she believed that speaking about other people’s involvement would be against Christian ideals as well as American tradition. Many people interrogated by HUAC felt pressured to “bear false witness” and juxtaposing other Americans as leftist supporters to avoid contempt. HUAC led to many Americans being blacklisted,...
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