Lecture 12 - 1950s is characterized by intense fears about...

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Unformatted text preview: 1950s is characterized by intense fears about the threat of Communism at home (in reality, only 30,000 Americans belong to the U.S. Communist Party)  Federal government (and media) play key roles in fomenting public fear of domestic Communism (Truman) and in rooting out Communists at home Truman established the Federal Employees’ Loyalty and Security Program (1947) to purge Communists from the federal government (FBI)  Also designed to deflect criticism that Truman was “soft” on Communism Standing committee of the House of Representatives that investigates threats of subversion  In 1947, HUAC holds hearings into the Communist influence in Hollywood  Friendly witnesses like Ronald Reagan testify before HUAC Hollywood Ten cite their First Amendment rights of free speech and association Hundreds of Hollywood people (mostly Communists) refuse to testify and plead the 5 th (the amendment that protects a person from giving incriminating evidence against themselves)  Most who plead the Fifth are blacklisted from Hollywood and fired from their jobs Whittaker Chambers, a Time editor and former Communist, accuses Alger Hiss, a former State Department official, of giving him classified documents to pass onto the Soviet Union in the 1930s  Hiss insists on his innocence but is found guilty of perjury and jailed Because he was a New Deal Democrat, his conviction helps right-wing opponents tarnish the reputation of the New Deal by associating it with Communism Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were found guilty of conspiring to pass nuclear secrets to Soviet agents during WWII  The couple were executed in 1953 Senator Joseph McCarthy (Wisconsin) led a four-year witch hunt to root out communists in government  McCarthy badgers witnesses and violates the civil liberties of those accused of un- American activities States and cities often followed in the footsteps of the national government and set up committees to uncover Communists  Local citizens’ groups burned “Communist” library books and private employers implemented their own loyalty checks McCarthy fails to provide evidence that there...
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Lecture 12 - 1950s is characterized by intense fears about...

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