McCarthyism, Response to Communist Threat or Political Witch Hunt .docx

Critics of mccarthys anticommunist crusade painted it

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Critics of McCarthy's anticommunist crusade painted it as a witch hunt that ruined lives. They argued that McCarthy's claims of a communist conspiracy, particularly within government and in the entertainment industry, were exaggerated and largely false. Opponents of McCarthyism portrayed the episode as nothing more than a baseless assault by the right against liberals. While some detractors conceded that espionage was a real danger, they argued that McCarthy's tactics were excessive and cruel, and seriously harmed many innocent people. Some skeptics contended that McCarthyism was nothing more than a cynical political maneuver by a senator hungry for power and attention. Supporters of the anticommunist crusade, on the other hand, asserted that communism— and communist subversion in both government and culture—posed a very real threat to the U.S. While some backers admitted that McCarthy might have gone too far at times, they said that McCarthyism, on balance, was good for the nation because it helped beat back the advance of communism in the U.S. Indeed, some defenders of McCarthyism went so far as to suggest that McCarthy's critics were communist sympathizers themselves who feared being exposed as such if McCarthy was not brought down. The Communist Threat For much of the 20th century, the U.S. was preoccupied with the threat of communism. The communist takeover of Russia in 1917, along with a wave of labor unrest and social agitation, fed fears of communist infiltration into the U.S. and laid the foundation for the "Red Scare" of 1919-20. During that time, Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer, who believed that communism was "eating its way into the homes of the American workman," launched the so-called Palmer Raids. He rounded up thousands of members of the Communist Party, which had established in the U.S. earlier in the year. Those who were arrested—mainly foreigners, radicals and striking laborers—were often beaten, and foreigners were sometimes deported. Anticommunist fervor ebbed in succeeding years, and in the 1930s, during the Great Depression, even gave way to toleration of leftist ideas. However, anticommunism gained momentum again by the end of the decade. In 1938, Congress created the House Un- American Activities Committee (HUAC). Initially the HUAC focused on extremist groups, both right-wing pro-Fascist groups and leftist communist groups. But after World War II, attention turned mainly to the danger of communist infiltration of American government and society Although U.S. participation in World War II, and its alliance with the Soviet Union, somewhat diminished anticommunist fervor, it returned with renewed intensity after the war. Past and present members of the Communist Party in the U.S. were singled out as potentially dangerous and were accused of working to undermine the U.S. on behalf of 3
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the communist cause.
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  • Spring '10
  • BUSH
  • McCarthyism, Joseph McCarthy, Senator Joseph McCarthy

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