Exploring the Key Features of McCarthyism

Exploring the Key Features of McCarthyism

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Exploring the Key Features of McCarthyism

The term McCarthyism is named after the US Senator, Joseph McCarthy,
the founder of this theory. McCarthyism refers to the ‘witch hunt’,
the investigation and persecution of ‘communist sympathizers’, these
are people who believed in or supported communism in the United
States. Also the term is descriptive of the outbreak of panic and
worry about communism that swamped American society at the time, also
known as the ‘Red Scare’.

American citizens, and politicians, followed McCarthyism because at
the time, there was far-fetched hysteria over communist and fear of
communist invasion of their country. Anything that was the slightest
bit left or radical or even new could be seen as communistic. The US
was fighting the war on someone else’s territory over seas, and did
not want the communists to spread to America. McCarthyism was invented
at the peak of hysteria and accepted as the only possible way to
prevent communism in America for many years. The Cold War had created
a fear that democracy was in danger, that the American people must
take drastic measures to ensure their on-going way of life

The Alien Registration Act had been introduced into the United States
and everyone who had the slightest chance of being linked to communist
sympathies was required to register, or face being ‘Blacklisted’. it
was very important if you were asked the question “do you support
communism?” back then, as it could affect your future, career and
personal lifestyle. The black list did extensively affect people with
influential power. This included writers, directors, actors and
actresses who pressured film studios to produce movies promoting the
positive ideas of the Communist Party. The perseverance upon normality
and traditionalism was also portrayed metaphorically in numerous
Sci-Fi movies (such as ’The Blob’) of the time which illustrated
racism, the hatred or fear of strangers or foreigners.

Other forms of propaganda were used apart from sci-fi films, such as
magazines and posters, some containing comments such as “How
Communists Get That Way” and “Communists Are After Your Child.

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” These
were used effectively in America as the public was in panic, they
relied on this propaganda to show them a way out of this disorder and
stress.

McCarthyism had a strong impact on the United States, politically and
socially. Politicians became extremely wary of standing up to Senator
McCarthy and his campaign, for fear of being accused and Blacklisted.
This would jeopardise they’re influential power extensively, with
little power at all to oppose McCarthy.

Socially, some people were affected directly through inclusion of
their name on the Blacklist or even by being under investigation. This
made it difficult to seek employment and virtually impossible to
obtain financial help. Through others’ fear of also being
incriminated, people who were Blacklisted were basically rejected by
society. Many of these innocent civilians were affected by jaundice
and many put into segregation. The improvement of the Russian nuclear
weapons brought reason for suspicion. especially after the information
leaked to the media and the discovery and conviction of spying for the
Rosenberg’s only heightened the worry and fear of the American public.

The fall of McCarthyism happened from when the absurd idea of the
witch hunt ventured into the military. Many officers were accused for
no apparent reason which caused uproar. When the president at the time
was also accused for communist sympathies he realised that McCarthy’s
reign must come to an end. This was done by information about McCarthy
leaked to the media, journalists constantly portrayed him in a bad
light, this helped to sway the publics irrational way of thinking. A
good example of this would be a picture drawn by a cartoonist, showing
McCarthy loosing his stand in politics and the unjustified idea of
McCarthyism dying along side his influential character.
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