Presentation on theme: "McCarthyism and the Red Scare Junior English Mrs. Billings."— Presentation transcript:
McCarthyism and the Red Scare Junior English Mrs. Billings
Senator Joseph McCarthy Born on a farm near Appleton, Wisconsin, in 1908. “As a judge, McCarthy was credited for being hard- working and fair, but he was also reprimanded by the Wisconsin Supreme Court for an “ abuse of judicial authority ” after destroying court records. Later, he was cited for violating an ethics code that prohibited sitting judges from running for non- judicial posts” (Reeves). This is not the only time Senator Joseph McCarthy has used his power for his own profit.
America’s Fears After WWII ended, Americans were terrified the country was going to be taken over by communists. Americans called communists “Reds” because the International Communist flag was red.
Fears There was indeed a real reason for concern-news reports began showing how some Communist countries had spies in the U.S., and that they now had the recipe for the atomic bomb. People were afraid nuclear war was impending, and drills were practiced quite often (there are still many old bomb shelters left from this time period). To make things worse, the media also covered atrocities committed by communist leaders. Because of all this, many Americans thought that communists were worse than murderers, and that just being suspected of communism meant that one was a traitor. Association with communists was almost as bad as being a communist yourself! (Beck).
Is being a Communist really that bad? Communism is: “A theoretical economic system characterized by the collective ownership of property and by the organization of labor for the common advantage of all members.” This is the UN-capitalized communism! Communism – “A system of government in which the state plans and controls the economy and a single, often authoritarian party holds power, claiming to make progress toward a higher social order in which all goods are equally shared by the people” (American Heritage Dictionary).
It’s a matter of opinion… There are currently eighteen countries who are controlled by communism. There is a history of strong positive communist leaders There is a history of negative, controlling communist leaders as well.
Back to McCarthy “In 1950, McCarthy charged that the United States Secretary of State Dean Acheson knew of 205 communists in the State Department. An investigation was launched, and McCarthy failed to name even one State Department employee who hadn’t already been investigated. The charges received extensive media coverage, shooting McCarthy to the top of the most famous political figures in the nation-but also one of the most criticized (Beck).
HUAC The House of Un-American Activities Committee, or HUAC, investigated communist organizations. They came into being because they wanted to prove that many actors and writers were communists. They thought that movies were brainwashing Americans and putting communist propaganda into their heads. The Committee probed Hollywood, but never confirmed any of the charges. They even questioned 10-year-old Shirley Temple. Many studios became very careful about their products and actors, because they did not want to be accused. Just to be associated with someone who was suspected of communism was enough to ruin a career (Beck).
More HUAC In 1954, all of America watched as the Senate held hearings for some of the people on McCarthy’s lists. The accused individuals professional reputation was destroyed, and no one would hire them. The committee and McCarthy asked many people if they were communists now, had ever been a communist before, or ever knew anyone who was a communist. Most people did not want to answer because they felt it was a violation of both their civil rights and anyone else they might name. The people who refused to cooperate were blacklisted (Beck).
The Army McCarthy Hearings In the fall of 1953, McCarthy investigated the Army Signal Corps, but failed to uncover an alleged espionage ring. CBS then broadcast Edward R. Murrow’s “See It Now,” an attack on McCarthy and his methods. The dispute was aired on national television between April 22 and June 17, 1954, and McCarthy’s frequent interruptions of the proceedings made him the object of ridicule. The last straw for the public was when McCarthy attacked a young lawyer on the witness stand. The young lawyer’s reply to McCarthy became famous: “Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you no sense of decency?” The hearings ended inconclusively, and McCarthy’s reputation never recovered (Beck).
The end of McCarthy’s reign “On September 27, 1954, [a senate] committee released a unanimous report calling McCarthy’s behavior as a committee chairman ‘inexcusable, reprehensible, vulgar and insulting.’ Though he remained in the Senate, McCarthy now had little power and was ignored by the Congress, the White House, and most of the media” (Beck).
Arthur Miller Born in New York on October 17, 1915. Award-winning playwright. In 1956, Miller was called before the House Un-American Activities Committee, where he was accused and convicted of communism. Like his characters in The Crucible, Miller refused to name others who had been involved with communism. Cited with contempt of Congress for refusing to implicate his colleagues at the McCarthy hearings; his conviction was later overturned by the court. Wrote The Crucible as an analogy of the Red Scare and McCarthyism. Even today, when we see scapegoating, we sometimes call it a “witch hunt” because of what happened in our country in 1692, and because Miller helped people remember those more recent times in the 1950’s.