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The Freedom Train, 1948. The Red Scare and McCarthyism Origins Actions Consequences. “Highpoints” of American Anti-communism. The House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) from 1938-present Most famous for Hollywood investigations in 1947, Hiss trial of 1948

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The Red Scare and McCarthyism




highpoints of american anti communism
“Highpoints” of American Anti-communism
  • The House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) from 1938-present
    • Most famous for Hollywood investigations in 1947, Hiss trial of 1948
  • President Harry Truman's Executive Order 9835 initiated a program of loyalty reviews for federal employees in 1947.
  • In 1950, Sen. Joe McCarthy reads a speech.
  • In 1952, the Immigration and Nationality, or McCarran-Walter, Act was passed.
house un american activities committee
House Un-American Activities Committee

This committee had existed in the 1920s and 1930s, but was not held in very high regard during the 20s and 30s, and did not do much. HUAC then investigated a variety of "activities," including those of German-American Nazis during World War II.

But starting in 1947, when the Republicans took back control of Congress for the first time in 18 years, it became active again. HUAC had three implied goals:

  • 1.      It intended to prove that Communists had heavily infiltrated the Screen Writers’ Guild;
  • 2.      It hoped to show that these writers were able to insert subversive Communist propaganda into Hollywood films;
  • 3.      It intended to show that Hollywood had intentionally produced pro-Soviet films during World War II.
huac s first big case
HUAC’s first big case

During the first part of the hearings, the Committee called cooperative (“friendly”) witnesses, and allowed them to read prepared statements. These people testified about what they knew of Communist activity in Hollywood.

  • Others were subpoenaed who made it clear they would not cooperate with HUAC; these were the “unfriendly” witnesses. All were accused of having been Communists during the 1930s and 1940s. One of them, writer Bertolt Brecht, testified and then fled to his native East Germany the next day. The remaining ten became known as The Hollywood Ten.
  • These were nine screenwriters and one director who refused to answer any questions in front of the committee, claiming their 5th amendment rights against self-incrimination. Unfortunately for them, the courts at the time interpreted the 5th amendment did not apply to legislative proceedings like this – only to judicial ones. Therefore, their silence got them cited for contempt of Congress, and they all served prison terms of between 6 months and 1 year.
  • The Hollywood Ten had three choices: (1) they could claim they had never been members of the Communist Party. Since all had been, this would have been perjury; (2) they could admit to being former or current Communists and “Name names”, but then lose their jobs; or (3) they could remain silent. This is what they did, and they all lost their jobs.
testimony of walter e disney friendly witness before huac october 24 1947
Testimony of Walter E. Disney (“friendly witness”) before HUACOctober 24, 1947
  • SMITH: Can you name any other individuals that were active at the time of the strike that you believe in your opinion are communists?
  • DISNEY: Well, I feel that there is one artist in my plant that came in there, he came in about 1938, and he sort of stayed in the background, he wasn't too active, but he was the real brains of this, and I believe he is a communist. His name is David Hilberman.
  • SMITH: How is it spelled?
  • DISNEY: H-i-l-b-e-r-m-a-n, I believe. I looked into his record and I found that, No. 1, that he had no religion and, No. 2, that he had considerable time at the Moscow Art Theater studying art direction or something.
the blacklist begins
The Blacklist begins
  • On November 25, 1947 (the day after the House of Representatives approved citations of contempt for the Hollywood Ten), Eric Johnston, President of the Motion Picture Association of America, issued a press release on behalf of the heads of the major studios that came to be referred to as the Waldorf Statement. This statement announced the firing of the Hollywood Ten and stated: "We will not knowingly employ a Communist or a member of any party or group which advocates the overthrow of the government of the United States[…]"
ayn rand testifies on the song of russia 1947
Ayn Rand testifies on “The Song of Russia,” 1947

Rand: Incidentally, I have never seen so much smiling in my life, except on the murals of the world's fair pavilion of the Soviets…It is one of the stock propaganda tricks of the communists, to show these people smiling. That is all they can show. You have all this, plus the fact that an American conductor had accepted an invitation to come there and conduct a concert, and this took place in 1941 when Stalin was the ally of Hitler. That an American would accept an invitation to that country was shocking to me, with everything that was shown being proper and good and all those happy people going around dancing, when Stalin was an ally of Hitler.

….MR. JOHN MCDOWELL: You paint a very dismal picture of Russia. You made a great point about the number of children who were unhappy. Doesn't anybody smile in Russia any more?

RAND: Well, if you ask me literally, pretty much no.

MCDOWELL: They don't smile?

RAND: Not quite that way, no. If they do, it is privately and accidentally. Certainly, it is not social. They don't smile in approval of their system

high noon 1953
High Noon, 1953
  • It is the story of one man (a federal marshal) who stands up against evil and violence to defend a town that will not even defend itself. The “evil” is McCarthyism and the Red Scare, the “town” represents Hollywood, and “the marshal” is a person who would not cooperate with the whole process.
  • One of the most outspoken anti-Communists in Hollywood at the time, actor and director John Wayne, called High Noon “the most un-American movie I have ever seen.”
on the waterfront 1954
On the WaterfrontOn the Waterfront, 1954

Directed by Elia Kazan, starring Marlon Brando. The hero of the movie is a dockworker who turns in fellow dockworkers who have been instrumental in letting the mafia infiltrate and take over the union. In the end, the informant gets severely beaten, loses family members, but ultimately triumphs over evil.

alger hiss trial 1948 1950
Alger Hiss Trial, 1948-1950

Chapter 2: Loyalty and Security

nixon and the pumpkin papers
Nixon and the Pumpkin Papers

"We won the Hiss case in the papers.  We did.  I had to leak stuff all over the place.  Because the Justice Department would not prosecute it.  Hoover didn't even cooperate.  It was won in the papers.  We have to develop a program, a program for leaking out information.  We're destroying these people in the papers."

"I had Hiss convicted before he got to the grand jury....I no longer have the energy, [but we need] a son of a bitch who will work his butt off and do it dishonorably.  I know how to play the game and we're going to play it.“ --1971

Historian Ellen Schrecker calls the FBI "the single most important component of the anti-communist crusade"

"Had observers known in the 1950s what they have learned since the 1970s, when the Freedom of Information Act opened the Bureau's files, 'McCarthyism' would probably be called 'Hooverism.'"

J Edgar Hoover designed President Truman's loyalty-security program, and its background investigations of employees were carried out by FBI agents.

Chapter the Third:

The Saga of

“Tailgunner Joe”

speech of joseph mccarthy wheeling west virginia february 9 1950
Speech of Joseph McCarthy, Wheeling, West Virginia, February 9, 1950
  • The reason why we find ourselves in a position of impotency is not because our only powerful potential enemy has sent men to invade our shores . . . but rather because of the traitorous actions of those who have been treated so well by this Nation. It has not been the less fortunate, or members of minority groups who have been traitorous to this Nation, but rather those who have had all the benefits that the wealthiest Nation on earth has had to offer . . . the finest homes, the finest college education and the finest jobs in government we can give.
  • This is glaringly true in the State Department. There the bright young men who are born with silver spoons in their mouths are the ones who have been most traitorous. . . .
  • I have here in my hand a list of 205 . . . a list of names that were made known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist Party and who nevertheless are still working and shaping policy in the State Department. . . .
chapter four institutions of mccarthyism
Chapter Four:Institutions of McCarthyism
  • Senate Committees
    • the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee (SISS), formed in 1950
    • Joseph McCarthy himself headed the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations in 1953 and 1954
  • Legislation
    • McCarran Internal Security Act in 1950
    • In 1952, the Immigration and Nationality, or McCarran-Walter, Act
    • The Communist Control Act of 1954
  • The number imprisoned is in the hundreds, and some ten or twelve thousand lost their jobs. In many cases, simply being subpoenaed by HUAC or one of the other committees was sufficient cause to be fired.
  • Suspected homosexuality was also a common cause for being targeted by McCarthyism. According to some scholars, this resulted in more persecutions than did alleged connection with Communism.
  • In the film industry, over 300 actors, authors and directors were denied work in the U.S. through the unofficial Hollywood blacklist.
  • Blacklists were at work throughout the entertainment industry, in universities and schools at all levels, in the legal profession, and in many other fields.
  • As with other loyalty-security reviews of McCarthyism, the identities of any accusers and even the nature of any accusations were typically kept secret from the accused.
why mccarthy
Why McCarthy?
  • Events in 1949 and 1950 sharply increased the sense of threat from Communism in the United States.
  • The Soviet Union tested an atomic bomb in 1949
  • Mao Zedong's Communist army gained control of mainland China
  • In 1950, the Korean War began
  • Igor Gouzenko and Elizabeth Bentley espionage cases in 1945
  • 1950 saw several significant developments regarding Soviet Cold War espionage activities.
    • In January, Alger Hiss, a high-level State Department official, was convicted of perjury.
    • In Great Britain, Klaus Fuchs confessed to committing espionage on behalf of the Soviet Union while working on the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos National Laboratory during the War.
    • Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were arrested on charges of stealing atomic bomb secrets for the Soviets on July 17 and later executed.
Conservative politicians referred to liberal reforms such as child labor laws and women's suffrage as "Communist" or "Red plots.
  • McCarthyism was supported by a variety of groups, including the American Legion, Christian fundamentalists and various other anti-communist organizations.
  • One core element of support was a variety of militantly anti-communist women's groups such as the American Public Relations Forum and the Minute Women of the U.S.
  • A broad "coalition of the aggrieved“:
    • Common themes uniting the coalition were:
      • opposition to internationalism, particularly the United Nations;
      • opposition to social welfare provisions, particularly the various programs established by the New Deal;
      • and opposition to efforts to reduce inequalities in the social structure of the United States.
    • One focus of popular McCarthyism concerned the provision of public health services
Flier issued in May 1955 by the Keep America Committee urging readers to "fight communistic world government" by opposing public health programs
the checkers speech
The Checkers Speech
  • Eisenhower began deregulation of industry and growth of private oil companies
  • But continued New Deal support programs and subsidies
  • And saw the greatest increase in homeownership and middleclass development in US history
  • And poured public money into technological development and education
g i bill
G I Bill
  • Stimulates home ownership and suburb-anization
  • But FHA loans were largely denied to minorities
highway act
Highway Act
  • Fed. Highway Act, 1956
  • By 1970s, we have the best roads in the world
  • But the worst public transportation
  • Russian satellite, 1957
  • Stimulates the National Defense Education Act of 1958
  • More science labs, more graduate programs, more teacher programs
1950s home economics text
1950s home economics text
  • Have dinner ready: Plan ahead even the night before to have a delicious meal on time. This is a way of letting him know that you have been thinking about him and are concerned about his needs. Most men are hungry when they come home and the prospects of a good meal are part of the warm welcome needed.
  • Prepare yourself: Take 15 minutes to rest so you will be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your makeup, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh looking.
  • Clear away the clutter:
  • Prepare the children: Take a few minutes to wash the children's hands and faces (if they are small), comb their hair, and if necessary, change their clothes.
  • Minimize all noise: Don't greet him with problems or complaints. Consider what he might have gone through that day.
  • Make him comfortable: Allow him to relax and unwind.
  • Listen to him: Let him talk first.
  • Make the evening his: