Presentation on theme: "+ The Red-Scare and McCarthyism The hunt for Reds in the United States."— Presentation transcript:
+ The Red-Scare and McCarthyism The hunt for Reds in the United States
+ The HUAC The House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), a committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, investigated allegations of communist activity in the U.S. during the early years of the Cold War (1945-91). The committee used its subpoena power as a weapon and called citizens to testify in high-profile hearings before Congress. This intimidating atmosphere often produced dramatic but questionable revelations about Communists infiltrating American institutions and subversive actions by well-known citizens. These tactics contributed to the fear and distrust that existed during the anticommunist hysteria of the 1950s.
+ Anyone who refused to answer questions or provide names could sent to prison. “Pleading the Fifth" made people look guilty. People who refused to cooperate were often blacklisted by their employers—or lost their jobs Critics claimed that HUAC's tactics were a witch hunt that ignored citizens' rights and ruined their careers & reputations. Critics argued that most people were targeted for their political beliefs or for exercising their right to free speech. Supporters of the committee believed that its efforts were justified given the grave threat to U.S. security posed by communism.
+ Reds in Hollywood The HUAC paid special attention to the movie industry, which was believed to harbor a large number of Communists. Most film industry executives did not speak out against the investigations. In fact, many of the major studios imposed a strict blacklist policy against actors, directors, writers and other personnel implicated in Communist activity. Peaked with the Hollywood Ten, a group of writers and directors who were called to testify in Oct. 1947. The group refused to cooperate with the investigation and used their HUAC appearances to criticize the committee's tactics. All were cited for contempt of Congress and sentenced to prison terms, in addition to being blacklisted from working in Hollywood.
+ Reds in the Federal Government HUAC also sounded an alarm about Communists in the federal government. Most famous case: former member of the American Communist Party Whittaker Chambers went before the committee and accused Alger Hiss, a former State Department official, of serving as a Soviet spy. Based on allegations and evidence provided by Chambers, Hiss was found guilty of perjury and served 44 months in prison. He spent the rest of his life proclaiming his innocence. The suggestion that Communist agents had infiltrated senior levels of the U.S. government also added to the widespread fear that "Reds” posed a serious threat to the nation. HUAC's work served as a blueprint for the tactics employed by U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy in the early
+ Senator McCarthy Senator Joseph McCarthy (WI) spent almost five years trying to expose communists and other left-wing “loyalty risks” in the U.S. government. In the hyper-suspicious atmosphere of the Cold War murmurs of disloyalty were enough to convince many Americans that their government was packed with traitors and spies. McCarthy’s accusations were so intimidating that few people dared to speak out against him. It was not until he attacked the Army in 1954 that his actions earned him the censure of the U.S. Senate.
+ In Feb. 1950, he gave a speech in which he declared that he had a list of 205 known members of the Communist Party who were “working and shaping policy” in the State Department. The next month, a Senate subcommittee launched an investigation and found no proof of any subversive activity. Moreover, many of McCarthy’s Democratic and Republican colleagues, including President Eisenhower, disapproved of his methods. In hearing after hearing, he aggressively interrogated witnesses in what many perceived as violations of their civil rights. Despite a lack of any proof of subversion, more than 2,000 government employees lost their jobs as a result of McCarthy’s investigations.
+ McCarthy’s fall McCarthy lost his steam as the Army-McCarthy hearings were televised and people saw his aggressive tactics and found him arrogant and cruel. Arthur Miller dramatized the events of 1692 in his play "The Crucible" (1953), using them as an allegory for the anti- Communist "witch hunts" led by Senator Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s.