The Great Fear

Topics: Salem witch trials, Witchcraft, Communism Pages: 2 (842 words) Published: June 16, 2005
Times change and people come and go, but fear is a constant, and in "The Great Fear" by J. Ronald Oakley, he describes the wave of fear that occurred in the 1950s. In 1692, the townspeople of Salem were scared into believing that they were among witches, and in 1950's the "Red" Scare destroyed thousands of peoples lives that were accused of being Communists. Those accused in both witch hunts were put on trial, and while many were killed in Salem, the Red Scare had blacklisted those persecuted. The leader of this modern day witch-hunt was Senator Joseph R. McCarthy, who was a dishonest and corrupt man. "Although a junior senator, he refused to follow Senate rules and customs, specialized in malicious attacks on his colleagues, and frequently thwarted committee work by trying to inject trivial and extraneous matters into committee discussions," Oakley says, describing McCarthy's ethics. McCarthy worked his way up the political ladder not by honestly winning but with deceit. On January 7th 1950, an acquaintance said that the communist-in-government issue would attract national publicity and enhance his chances of reelection. His first speech against the issue was on February 9th in Wheeling, West Virginia and McCarthy revealed a sheet of paper with a list of 205 names, who he said, were members of the Communist party. "He could not remember what figure he had quoted at Wheeling, whether it was 205 or 209 or 57 or whatever…" Oakley adds, which shows that McCarthy's list wasn't authentic and credible. In an attempt to restore confidence in the Truman administration, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee established a subcommittee headed by Democratic Senator Millard E. Tydings of Maryland to investigate McCarthy's charges. When the Tydings Committee issued a majority report dismissing all of McCarthy's allegations and condemning them as "a fraud and a hoax perpetrated on the Senate of the United States and the American people." Republican members of the American...
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