Cold war part 4 Red Scare (1)

No, I said Red SCARE, pay attention.
Main Idea: People were extremely paranoid about Communism and were overly concerned about
their security.
Cold War Fears
It should be no secret to you at this point that the Cold War intensified (made it worse) people’s
fears about Communism taking over. Many feared communist subversion or sabotage. Around
this time is when the CIA became known and many people heard stories about stolen
government documents and spies stealing secrets.
Maybe some of this was true, maybe it wasn’t, but one thing that was absolutely true that made
people more worried than ever was that news broke in 1949 that the Soviets created their own
atomic bomb.
You can imagine why this was so scary to people. For one thing, we KNEW how deadly the
atomic bomb was (since we used it) and now a country that REALLY didn’t like us had one. You
do the math.
Many Americans worried that Communist spies and sympathizers (people who were friendly to
communists) were everywhere and had managed to sneak into America. What do you think
about that, Communist Batman?
Well, that’s what people were afraid of…
The nickname people came up with for Communists was “The Reds”, and they thought they
were everywhere, trying to sneak into the government and destroy America and the rest of the
free world. (I guess they followed my advice…DTA)
This Red Scare (Extreme panic that Communists were everywhere) gripped the country (this
one) with FEAR and DISTRUST. Many people started accusing friends, neighbors, celebrities,
heck, even THE PRESIDENT of being Communists.
Yes, you heard me right. The Republicans began accusing President Truman of being “too easy”
on the communists. In response, Truman responded by ordering an investigation into the
loyalty of all Federal employees. Millions of government workers had to undergo security
checks and were interrogated by the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation…basically the police
force for the entire country). Even though they found little evidence, many federal agents lost
their jobs simply because people were so suspicious. It was really crazy.
Investigations (aka “The Witch Hunts: Part II”)
If you remember when we talked about the “Salem Witch Hunts” of the 1600s, you should
remember that a lot of people were unfairly accused of being “witches” and many were put in
jail, even executed for no reason other than people were “suspicious”. You would think that
almost 300 years later, people would be more civilized than that, but they weren’t.
Well, instead of witchcraft, now everyone was accusing each other of being Communists. Many
other companies started doing the same thing Truman did and investigating their employees
and people who applied for jobs. People were forced to sign “loyalty oaths” which made a
person swear their loyalty to the United States. If they didn’t, they usually got fired. This was
total garbage and basically COMPLETELY VIOLATED the Bill of Rights.
In 1950, Congress passed the McCarran Act, which required all Communist-supporting groups to
register with the government and provide a list of members so that the government could keep
an eye on them. (So much for the land of freedom). Luckily, Truman saw that this was a pile of
garbage and vetoed it, saying “In this country, we punish men for the crimes they commit, but
never for the opinions they hold”.
That was why Truman was such a great president, he did what was RIGHT and didn’t care about who
didn’t like it. We need more Presidents like Truman.
HOWEVER, Congress showed what a bunch of idiots they were and OVERRODE his veto.
So let me get this straight: We claim we’re afraid of a government taking over which steps on
people’s freedoms and controls everything, yet that’s EXACTLY WE WERE DOING.
Well, it gets worse. In 1947, Congress created a committee (group) called the House UnAmerican Activities Committee. They might as well have called it the American Nazi Party
as they started looking into everyone’s background and “investigating” people to expose the
Communists that were “among us”.
Yeah, that was a load of Garbage.
If anything was Un-American, it was this committee. It had no right to be doing what it was
doing, but it did anyway. It brought in thousands of people and “investigated” them by
questioning them about their knowledge of Communists. All it did was add to the fear that
there were communists everywhere. People reported their friends and neighbors to the
committee, who then ruined these people’s lives. People were blacklisted, meaning they
were put on a list and were barred from getting jobs or getting credit or renting apartments.
This is almost as bad as slavery, and anyone involved in this (if they’re still alive) should be
ashamed of themselves. People’s lives were ruined for no reason.
However, there were a few cases where people were right to be worried. There was a
magazine editor named Whittaker Chambers, who admitted to the committee that he had
worked as a spy for the Soviet Union. Chambers was a real piece of work (and I mean that in
a BAD WAY). Chambers accuse a man named Alger Hiss of being a spy as well and said he
had documents that proved this.
They could never prove whether this was true or not, but Hiss was convicted of perjury or lying
under oath and sent to prison.
The most dramatic case of suspected spies was the case of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.
The Rosenberg were a New York couple who were members of the Communist Party (stupid
move considering what was going on). They were accused of planning to pass secret
information about the atomic bomb to the Soviets. They were convicted in 1951 and
sentenced to death. The judge called their crime “worse than murder”
That one gets a double-facepalm for how stupid it was.
Groups around the world protested the trial/execution of these people, saying it was a
“gross injustice” (abuse of the legal system to punish someone). The Supreme Court upheld
their verdict and the Rosenbergs were executed in 1953. They maintained their innocence
the whole time.
The WORST of these people who were running around ruining other people’s life was a
Senator named Joseph McCarthy. McCarthy was a piece of garbage who used people’s fears
of a communist takeover to help himself achieve his goals, and didn’t care how many lives
he ruined in the process.
In the years of the “Red Scare” McCarthy publically alleged (accused without proof) that
people were Communists. His unproven, UNTRUE accusations destroyed the lives and
careers of many innocent Americans.
McCarthy claimed he had a “list of names” with 205 government employees who were
members of the Communist Party. If you had any doubt, this was completely not true and
he was doing this so that people would support him and vote for him, thinking he was going
to “expose the Reds”. All he exposed was what a jerk he was. His committee attacked and
bullied people it called in to investigate. Again, many resigned or were fired.
McCarthy’s downfall
(Let’s hope he gets what’s coming to him)
In 1954, McCarthy went too far. He went on television and accused many prominent (wellknown and respected) military leaders of being Communists. He ranted and raved hurling wild
accusations. Finally, people had enough. Joseph Welch, an attorney for the Army finally shut
McCarthy up. He stated:
“Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really
gauged your cruelty of your recklessness.
Have you no sense of decency?”
Welch was 100% right, and it showed the American people what we’ve been saying all along.
McCarthy was a cruel bully who had no basis for these claims he was making. Congress also
turned against McCarthy and in 1954, voted to censure him, or formally criticize him for his
McCarthy lost the support of the public and saw his career in politics go down the toilet which
was exactly where it (and he) belonged. He ruined many people’s lives for no reason and got
exactly what he deserved. Unfortunately the damage was done.
1.) What does “sympathizers” mean?
2.) What scary news did we get about the Soviets in 1949?
3.) Describe what the “Red Scare” was.
4.) What did Republicans accuse President Truman of?
5.) What happened to many federal employees as a result of Truman’s investigations?
6.) Describe how the Red Scare was similar to the Witch hunts in Salem.
7.) What was the committee created in 1947? What were they supposed to do?
8.) Define “Blacklisted”
9.) Who was the magazine editor that admitted to being a spy for the Soviets?
10.) (Continued from last question) Who did he accuse of also being a spy?
11.) What is perjury?
12.) Who was the New York couple who was put on trial for being members of the Communist
13.) What happened to them?
14.) Who is the Senator who claimed he had a “list of names” of Communists in America?
15.) What does “alleged” mean?
16.) Who was the man who finally called out McCarthy and exposed him for what he was?
17.) What does it mean when it says “gross injustice”?