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Mccarthyism and Anti-communist Campaigns in America

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McCarthyism is the practice of publicly accusing government employees of political disloyalty or disruptive activities. It used unpleasant investigation methods to prosecute them. Senator McCarthy ruined the reputation and lives of many people by accusing them without any credible evidence. He accused those who criticized his ways of being communist sympathizers. He also argued against freedom of speech because his art of persuasion felt that any discussion about Communism was dangerous and un-American (Pufong, n.d.).

Senator Joseph McCarthy defined communist nations such as Russia as atheists. He said the main difference between the western Christian world and the atheist Communist world is not political but moral. Karl Marx dismissed God as a joke, and Lenin and Stalin believed that no people who believed in God could exist side by side with their communists’ states. Karl Marx expelled people from his communist party for mentioning “love, justice, humanity or morality.’ Joseph Stalin had indicated two years after the last war ended that a Communist revolution cannot be carried out peacefully within the structure of Christian democracy. If it did happen, then the Parties either do not understand or have abandoned the Communist revolution. Senator McCarthy warned the Americans that their Christian values of ‘love, justice, and morality’ will be lost if they allow Communism to rule over America. The religion of immoralist would affect humankind more than any political or economic system. The Communist supporters were men who had all the benefits that the Wealthiest Nation on earth had to offer. They had the most beautiful homes, college education, and the most excellent jobs in the Government (‘Enemies from Within, ‘n.d.). He went on to mention that there were Communists supporters in the U.S. Department of State. He also had a list of Communists Spies.

In McCarthy’s speech on February 9, 1950, at the McClure Hotel, McCarthy held up a piece of paper that listed 205 communists who worked for the U.S. Department of State. The speech was part of the Wheeling Republican’s Annual Lincoln Day celebration. In reality, McCarthy did not have any list. McCarthy’s charges were not accurate. He never publicly shared his list of communists. Secondly, in his further speeches, he lowered his 205 total significantly and often mentioned different numbers. In his statement two days later, he said that he had a list of 57 communists in the State Department. The speech in Wheeling made McCarthy the face of the anticommunism movement. In 1954 McCarthy initiated hearings against the U.S. Army. The televised McCarthy hearings portrayed McCarthy’s erratic behavior and reliance on guilt by association rather than evidence (Anticommunism in the 1950s, n.d.). In 1954 the U.S. Senate vetoed to censure McCarthy. However, McCarthy’s popularity eventually fell after he claimed that Communism had infiltrated the U.S. Army. The term McCarthyism became synonymous with witch hunts and false allegations.

After the end of World War II, the United States and the Soviet Union emerged as the two superpowers. Both were in the contest for military, economic, social, technological, and ideological supremacy (OpenStax, 2019). The second Red Scare started after the end of World War II and during the start of the Cold War with the Soviet Union. The word ‘Red’ comes from the color of the Soviet Union flag, and ‘Scare’ comes from the fact that people were scared that Communism would come to the United States. Communism was advancing rapidly. As Communism spread in Eastern Europe and China, people were scared it could spread to the U.S. The Soviet Union exploded the first atomic bomb. People were afraid of those who would side with the communists and help the Soviets get secret information about the U.S. The Chinese Communist Party was victorious over their Nationalist Party. The Korean War engaged U.S. troops in combat against supported communist forces of North Korea.

There were suspicions that Spies in the U.S. had passed over the bomb-making secrets to the Soviets. Communist supporters in the U.S. Department of State had information that might have enabled the Communists victory in China. Klaus Fuchs, a German Physicist, was convicted of passing nuclear secrets to the Soviets and imprisoned. The trial and execution of suspected American spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, in spite of a lack of evidence against them, increased American fears. However, several decades later of evidence was found that Julius had given information to the Soviet Union. Truman’s order 9835 provided the Federal Bureau of Investigation with powers to investigate federal employees and identify security risks. State and Municipal Governments instituted their loyalty Boards to dismiss disloyal workers. The House Committee on UnAmerican Activities (HUAC) also worked to remove suspected communists in business, academics, and the media. They also investigated Hollywood and accused some executives of being pro communists.

Witnesses were required to testify in court. They imprisoned those who refused. The people suspected of Communists sympathies lost their jobs; were put on a blacklist, which prevented them from securing employment. Artists, too, were blacklisted. The trials and accusations were not all bad; they did include spies in the Federal Government.

The September 11, 2001 attack is an example of an event similar to the Red Scare that has occurred throughout history and modern-day. Muslims were a terrorist threat to the country and brought fear to the Americans. Bush declared war on terrorism. War on terrorism is an ideology based on fear and repression (Global Forum Policy, n.d.). It creates enemies and promotes violence. The politicians today use the tactics of McCarthyism. Americans are told to be afraid of acts of terrorism and Muslim immigrants. Just as during McCarthy’s time, people take this as truth, and there is constant fear in our country. Today Americans are witnessing President Donald Trump exploiting fears of terrorism using McCarthy’s tactics.

The Lavender Scare’s development was due to McCarthy. McCarthy’s list of 205 federal employees who were communists included two who were gay individuals. At this time, gays were as sinful, perverted, and their public perception of homosexuality shared many similarities with the public’s view of communists. Gays were viewed similarly as communists lacking in moral values. For the federal Government, LGBT employees began to pose a security threat. If they were living double lives, they would not be able to keep Government secrets. Eventually, they discharged the two LGBT individuals from service. In March 1952, the Federal Government removed 162 civil servants suspected of homosexuality. The following year President Eisenhower signed executive order 10450, excluding federal employees of sexual perversion. At least 10,000 public servants lost their jobs. The Lavender Scare broke up and silenced the gay community since they were afraid of federal employment discrimination and potential hate crime. It also resulted in a mostly homogenous culture within the Government.

Just as McCarthy instilled fear into the minds of people by his false allegations, modern politicians work on the same principle. By instilling fear, people do not reason and react emotionally. McCarthyism is used to describe accusations of being disloyal without providing proper proof. It is synonymous with scare tactics. Americans need to use their judgment and decide what is right for them to make progress.


  • Anticommunism in the 1950s. (n.d.). Retrieved from
  • ‘Enemies from Within’: Senator Joseph R. McCarthy’s Accusations of Disloyalty. (n.d.). Retrieved from
  • Gkeson, J. (2017). LGBT History: The Lavender Scare. (n.d.). Retrieved from
  • Global Policy Forum(n.d.). ‘War on Terrorism.’ Retrieved from
  • McCarthyism. (n.d.). Retrieved from
  • Powell, B. (2017, February 9). February 9, 1950: Senator Joe McCarthy Inflames Cold War in Wheeling. Retrieved October 18, 2019, from
  • Pufong, M.-G. (n.d.). McCarthyism. Retrieved from
  • OpenStax. (2019). U.S. history. OpenStax CNX Retrieved from[email protected]:[email protected]/Introduction

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