Fear is one of the strongest emotions that often defines people’s behavior. Politicians are aware of the power of human fears and tend to exploit them to achieve their goals. The paranoia surrounding communism in the USA in the middle of the 20th century is an illustration of this case. McCarthy was a devout supporter of the war on communism within the country as well as far beyond its borders. In his speech in Wheeling (West Virginia) in 1950, he outlined some of his ideas on the matter and calling for people’s action and unity. Unfortunately, similar calls are still present in modern society since politicians always find new enemies.
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First, it is necessary to look into the way communism was defined by McCarthy, which will help to understand some of the current trends. McCarthy emphasized that communist nations were hostile to the morals of the Christian world (“Senator Joseph McCarthy, speech at Wheeling,” 1950). He mentioned that those countries were armed and aggressive, but the only evidence to support this claim was several quotes from some Soviet leaders. At that, one of the quotes was initially uttered in the late 1920s and repeated while the other was rather an ideologic propaganda with reference to the distant future. Nonetheless, McCarthy made it clear that the threat was real and the enemy was already within. The politician fueled people’s fears making them irrational and vulnerable.
A similar situation is apparent in the contemporary USA, but the enemy is different. Islam is the focus of those who want to intimidate people. The 9/11 attack caused a major shift in society and inflicted the fears of the few on the masses. Americans are now afraid of those who practice this religion, and they want these people out of their country. Every Muslim is regarded as a potential enemy just like any person could be accused of being a communist in the 1950s. People are afraid of Islamists as well as anyone who goes to mosques. The massive destruction of New York downtown made them fear and be hostile.
Summing up, Americans are going through another wave of ungrounded fear. They are not afraid of a group of extremists but believe in a threat coming from millions who practice a particular religion. It is valid to draw comparisons between anti-Islam and anti-communist rhetoric since people’s views and behaviors are affected by delusional ideas. It is necessary to analyze the situation and act in rational ways, but masses are often easily affected especially after a horrible catastrophe.