Red Scare Essay

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Former U.S. President Richard Nixon once said, “Communism is never sleeping; it is, as always, plotting, scheming, working, fighting.” From 1919 – 1921, a hysteria over the perceived threat of communism spread like wildfire across the nation. Known as the First Red Scare, the widespread fear of Bolshevism and anarchism quickly invaded the infrastructure of the U.S. government and radically influenced the American people. American citizens, such as Sacco and Vanzetti, were convicted and found crimes that evidence showed otherwise only because they supported anarchism. The US government arrested and deported radicals only because of their political standing. Although The First Red Scare may have begun as a cultural movement, private business owners actually catalyzed and facilitated the wide spread hysteria over communism.
The origins of the Red Scare have been debated and studied for nearly a century. Most historians believe that the Red Scare was the product of a public hysteria linked to the patriotic fever remaining after the war, the social unrest, and the fear that Bolshevism would spread from Russia. Urbanization, industrialization, and immigration of the previous decrease also brought social and cultural changes which added to the anxieties. Thus, it was concluded that the First Red Scare was cultural in its origins. Attempting desperately to avoid communism takeover, Americans deported “radical aliens”, barred socialists from holding office, and passed laws that made it a crime to speak critically about the government. However, there is much evidence to believe that the First Red Scare, a cultural movement, was not only cultural in origin – but economically.
In 1916, the United States government announced their plan to r...

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...ign, instigated by employers and their conservative allies in the employers’ associations, patriotic societies, state legislatures and the press. Their basic aim was to break the power of organized labor, institutionalize the open shop in the American industry and halt or even roll back the growing government regulation of the economy. The widely publicized warnings of a Bolshevik threat to the US and the charges of subversion and treason leveled against unions and reform measures were all parts of this offensive by the conservative elite to regain its once uncontested and preeminent position of power. With riots and strikes on the rise, business owners and employers utilized propaganda to target labor unions as the products of communism; thus, not only, decreasing the power of organized labor, but also catalyzing the fear of radical takeover – the Red Scare.

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