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Q: McCarthyism ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   3 Comments )
Subject: McCarthyism
Category: Relationships and Society > Cultures
Asked by: flinter-ga
List Price: $50.00
Posted: 06 Dec 2005 10:30 PST
Expires: 05 Jan 2006 10:30 PST
Question ID: 602223
what was the appeal of McCarthyism in American society?  Was something
lacking in our society?   What were the cultural influences?
Subject: Re: McCarthyism
Answered By: tutuzdad-ga on 06 Dec 2005 12:37 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Dear flinter-ga;

Thank you for allowing me to answer your interesting question.

The Appeal of McCarthyism essentially hinged on the American public?s
need to place the blame for its own post World War failures.
McCarthyism suggested that the United State?s abysmal foreign policy
failures, like the ones in particular that saw the rise of Communist
China and the war in Korea, were not the fault of misguided policies,
but rather because of recruited and imbedded spies and disloyal
American?s within the US State Department. McCarthyism, on its face,
also provided a means by which many Americans could turn a blind eye
to the reality that seemingly faithful and steadfast nations around
the world did not, in actuality, trust the US or its friendly European
counterparts who engaged in similar forms of capitalism. The
suggestion was that those whose patriotism came under close scrutiny
were somehow tempted by the promises of Communism and thus began the
hunt for those who were unpatriotic as if this were prima-facie
evidence that all Americans who were less than enthusiastic about US
policies were communist sympathizers.

McCarthyism itself was a double-edge sword; to remain silent about it
was to embrace it and to speak out against it was seen as an admission
of guilt. To understand the reality of the world political climate at
the time Americans would have had to grapple with the uncomfortable
truth that their nation and allies had not always stood on the side of
freedom, democracy and self-determination. In a sense the appeal of
McCarthyism, like many powerful ideologies, was a comfort in knowing
that through one?s acceptance of the notion one removed himself from
suspicion. On the other hand there was also the simple-minded view of
the world as a struggle between good and evil, lightness and darkness;
and to reaffirm one?s American political loyalty, at that time, was
viewed as an automatic exoneration of sorts. No one wanted to be
targeted and an attractive aspect of McCarthyism was fundamentally
that you would not be viewed as secretly being ?one of them? if you
are openly and admittedly ?one of us?. This was proven time and time
again by whose who were subpoenaed and who refused to reaffirm their
loyalty (on principle alone) and walked away in many instances
carrying a life-long stigma as a ?communist sympathizer? even though
they cooperated fully and lived their lives many years before and many
years thereafter as loyal and patriotic Americans. Indeed the embrace
of McCarthyism, for some people, was an attractive lesser of many
evils and an avoidance of a potential scarlet letter.

What was lacking in our society in those days, I believe, was an
organized and collective sense of direction. The post war world has
become unsure and a suspicious place for anyone who held a
contradictory view of ?the powers that be?. Free speech and free
thought were being put to the test and opposing views were immediately
confronted as un-American ? after all, America had just recently
liberated the earth of tyranny and a force that powerful was above
reproach and could NOT be wrong. Or could it?

There was also a lack of security in America?s Constitutional
concepts. Those who did little else than what our founding father?s
had done in questioning our well being under current political
policies were no longer seen as patriots but subversives, hell-bent on
destroying democracy when in truth the very existence of the keepers
of our democracy depended on public debate and disclosure. With the
advent of McCarthyism we lost the ability to pick and choose which
policies we supported and which we deemed inappropriate. It was not
enough for a person to show favoritism to certain foreign policies
while condemning others, but we had to wholly embrace the sum total of
policies lest we be considered, as Hubert Humphrey put it when he
introduced an amendment to make the Communist party illegal, ?a half
patriot?. To some extent perhaps McCarthyism played on the waning
effects of social and political adrenaline left over from World War
II; adrenaline that needed ? no, SCREAMED for an outlet and
McCarthyism undoubtedly provided that. Unsatisfied with ridding the
world of the various menaces through McCarthyism we looked inward and
perceived another sinister plot and, still geared from our noble
fights for freedom, launched a new campaign to purge us of the last
vestiges of freedom hating revolutionaries.

From a cultural standpoint, especially among those who did not know
better in an age in which mass media was not commonplace and
disclosure was not the norm; McCarthyism was seen as an effort to
cleanse a dangerously polluted free society. McCarthyism was on our
side, in the minds of many, and because of it these supposedly
imminent seditious threats to our way of life would be ferreted out
and exposed for what they were. One must not forget that these
ideologues come on the heels of great racism in the south, the
internment of Japanese-Americans to prevent them from somehow
infiltrating free, white America, and the defeat of Nazism that
threatened all free societies just to name a few. Americans were
mindful of these recent and ongoing events and were weary of war and
apprehensive at the first sign that something was amiss. McCarthy?s
theories suggested that another such threat was brewing much closer to
home than what had only recently taken place in Europe and the South
Pacific and that the only solution to a domestic problem was a
proactive stance rather than a reactive stance.

Though there were many who did not necessarily embrace McCarthyism
there were unexpected and disproportionate responses to it. Truman,
who once traded disloyal accusations with McCarthy, issued an
executive order on loyalty in 1947 in the infancy of McCarthyism that
required the Department of Justice to draw up a list of organizations
it decided were "totalitarian, fascist, communist or subversive . . .
or as seeking to alter the form of government of the United States by
unconstitutional means." Oddly enough this not only included those who
held membership in these organizations but also those who were deemed
to have "sympathetic association" with any organization on the
Attorney General's list. This list included people in mainstream
society who often had absolutely no political interests such as the
Chopin Cultural Center, the Cervantes Fraternal Society, the Committee
for the Negro in the Arts, the League of American Writers, the Nature
Friends of America, and the Washington Bookshop Association to mention
only a few. Through this people began to realize that ?they? could be
next and thus an air of suspicion grew exponentially not only among
McCarthyism supporters but also among its detractors and added fuel to
the excitement and mass hysteria.

I hope you find that my answer exceeds your expectations. If you have
any questions about my research please post a clarification request
prior to rating the answer. Otherwise I welcome your rating and your
final comments and I look forward to working with you again in the
near future. Thank you for bringing your question to us.

Best regards;
Tutuzdad-ga ? Google Answers Researcher







Google ://










Request for Answer Clarification by flinter-ga on 07 Dec 2005 16:29 PST
This essay really helped and i understand that as you put it " the
appeal of McCarthyism essentialy hinged on the American public's need
to place the blame for its own post World War failures." But if that
is the case and McCarthyism gave them someone to blame, why would it
be found appealing to the general public who weren't directly affected
by failures in foreign policy?

Clarification of Answer by tutuzdad-ga on 07 Dec 2005 17:37 PST
I noted different levels of blaming:

- The government was able to blame spies and subversives for their own
failed policies.

- The public (or at least those who subscribed to McCarthy's notions)
blamed fellow Americans for being unpatriotic (and therefore assumed
to be subversives) in an effort to keep the heat off themselves and
their own activities (on several instances people testified against
one another or secretly provided information about other peoples'
activites for just this reason)

- Other members of the public sought merely to embrace the post war
hysteria of rounding up the anti-American criminal element - a
leftover excitement, I speculated, of the recently ended World War

The concept of "if you're not for us you must be against us", as
President Bush once said, was never so alive as it was in the McCarthy
era. (and equally effective if not equally mistaken)
flinter-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $10.00
very helpful in assisting research-thanks!

Subject: Re: McCarthyism
From: ilennie-ga on 10 Dec 2005 09:43 PST
Does any body know how McCarthyism was finally stopped?  Was there a
court case with constitutional issues cited?
Subject: Re: McCarthyism
From: myoarin-ga on 10 Dec 2005 10:15 PST
You should really post your own question, but since a comment here or
there would be free, here are two sites that may help:

Subject: Re: McCarthyism
From: tutuzdad-ga on 10 Dec 2005 16:18 PST
Sure ilennie...I can tell you when it ended. In a rare move in 1954,
McCarthy was officially censured for unbecoming conduct by his Senate
colleagues thus ending the era of McCarthyism and essentialy ruining
McCarthy's professional credibility forever. In a single move almost
overnight his ideologies were dropped like a hot potato and few even
wanted to be known associates of his. The end was ugly....and within
only a couple of years McCarthy and his notions were both bitter

If you'd like to know more about how and why this happened simply post
a question of your own and ask for me specifically in your subject
line and I'll provide you with whatever information your price
adequately allows for.


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