The commonly held belief within the bureau was that

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The commonly held belief within the Bureau was that the dissidents were not acting out of some deep seated dissatisfaction with the American system, but were in fact being led astray by some outside force. They believed that the American people were, generally, pleased and content with the order of things. Therefore anyone that attempted to rouse support against the system was aberrant, an outsider simply trying to create chaos. They blamed publications and radical literature for corrupting the minds of Americans and utilized 'infection' rhetoric and acted
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as if these movements were cancers that needed to be removed rather than symptoms of a much larger and fundamental problem. During the Red Scare a total of 35 states passed some kind of law that punished speech that could be interpreted as radical. These were not indications of popular support for the movement as some historians have hypothesized. Palmer himself would often travel to state legislatures and urge the law makers to create anti-radical laws, and in many states the local conservative elites pushed the laws through. Many states just followed suite with Washington. A clear indicator of the Bureau's hand in creating the Red Scare rather than responding to it is the fact that numerous states resisted creating anti-radical laws. In some cases authorities even refused to assist the Bureau in enforcing the laws. The Bureau had to push hard for the anti- radical laws and often received little support. It was believed in the past that the Bureau remained mostly passive to the Red Scare until late into 1919, but their records show that the Bureau was active long before that in suppressing radicals. They had informants and agents infiltrating organizations going all the way back to 1915(Schmidt 127) Unfortunately these informants were often just paranoid conservatives attempting to garner support for the Scare. Their apocalyptic reports were more often than not exaggerated in the extreme, for example this quote from a Bureau informant betrays a clear attempt at fear mongering, “There is no question but that labor all over the country is being hypnotized by Bolshevik propaganda, and if that propaganda is allowed to spread, unmolested, and the Bolshevists are allowed to carry out their Eastern campaign I solemnly assure you that within the next two years the United States will be under Soviet rule.” The Bureau's faulty informants no doubt led to them being far more harsh then was necessary when dealing with Radical groups.
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Another firmly held belief that Schmidt argues against is the idea that the Bureau was reacting to the wishes of a hysterical congress that demanded action against the forces of radicals in America. In fact the Justice Department had to fight hard for every appropriation of money to continue the fight. One senator mockingly asked him, “Do you think if we increased this to $2,000,000 you could get one single bomb thrower? I do not mean in the papers; I mean actually get him?”(Schmidt 153) Congress was far from hysterical, it seems they were the rational ones having to talk the Bureau and Justice Department away from acting too harshly. Even when the
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