Wisconsin’s Senator Joseph McCarthy gave a speech on February 9, 1950, famously known as Enemies from inside. He alleged to have an authentic understanding of several Soviet agents operating inside the United States federal government. The address took place in the Cold War background, a time of animosity between the US-led Western allies and the Soviet Union-led communist states. Since many Americans dreaded communism’s growth, the citizens were shocked by McCarthy’s Soviet (communist) claims to invade the government. Therefore, this case study aims to explain the definition of communist nations within the Senator’s speech and the threats posed by the countries. It will also assess the charges’ accuracy and the validity of anti-communist views through the Cold War age. Additionally, it aims to explain the existence of Red Scare-like incidents across historical and contemporary times. Finally, it reviews the findings of people who contravened the Fifth Amendment and refused to testify or were found to have violated the laws developed by the Legislative Committee.
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According to the Senator’s speech, he defines communism along ethical lines. He claimed that the contrast between the West’s Christian culture and the Communist society of atheism was political and just. As McCarthy (1950) opines, he validated his moral arguments using an example of Karl Marx’s concept of seizing community land and companies to operate the whole economy as a sole corporation. According to “McCarthyism and the Red Scare” (n.d.), the leader consistently warned the people that they had to be terrified of radical Communist interferences in their affairs, saying they could be found anywhere. The intruders’ professional positions allegedly included journalism, teaching, lecturing in universities, and assisting in world communist supremacy. This fear created among the Americans was referred to as the Red Scare, where the Senator included the invasion to departments such as the treasury, the army, and even the white house (“McCarthyism and the Red Scare,” n.d.). Therefore, morality defined his allegations of communism invasion, and the threat created was majorly to transform the world into a supreme communist race.
The accuracy of the Senator’s charges is crucial in understanding the validity of this case study. Considering the former, “McCarthyism and the Red Scare” (n.d.) states that around 1950 and 1954, the leader conducted a series of widely publicized investigations of suspected Communist infiltration into the State Department, the White House, among others. It made the Red Scare reach its climax as it ignited strong condemnations and paranoia that generated a national atmosphere of fear and mistrust. Hence, for the threat of being branded unpatriotic, no person dared to question the Senator (“McCarthyism and the Red Scare,” n.d.). However, the case became inaccurate when no individual ended up being charged apart from allegations that forced some people out of their employment and led others to be popularly denounced. Therefore, considering the tension, the Senator created among his people, and the lack of evidence over his charges made the cases inaccurate.
The leader’s speech contained anti-communism sentiments, which used alleged instances of employees such as Gustave Duran. According to McCarthy (1950), the Senator labeled Duran as a “notorious international communist,” yet he was the US’s Latin American representative in the State Department. He went further to opine that communists severely dominated the office without proper evidence. In addition, he reported holding a list of 57 cases of individuals who seemed to be loyal to the communist movement but still helped form the country’s foreign policy. The last sentiment he used was a comparison he made between communism and capitalism, whereby the former had grown to a followership of 800 million while the latter had dropped to 500 million (McCarthy, 1950). It made him reckon that the communists had won the Cold War; hence, America had lost. Therefore, he referred to the followers of that movement as enemies from within who could destroy a great democracy.
Events similar to the Red Scare can be found in both historical and modern times. According to Chigas and Mosyakov (2020), the Cambodian genocide is one past phenomenon between 1975 and 1979 in Democratic Kampuchea, currently known as Cambodia. The nation’s leader was referred to as Khmer Rouge, who targeted elite individuals and Buddhist monks. Almost 1.7 million educated people died because of starvation, hard labor, and execution since Rouge assumed that they did not support his revolution against the United States regime through a ruler called Lon Nol (Chigas & Mosyakov, 2020). It shows how similar historical events are concerning the Red Scare.
In the modern world, an instance of the Red Scare may be compared to the Chinese Islamic Revolutionaries and Falun Gong followers. According to Swanson (2019), the committee was formed in the 1970s against the Soviet Union and has been revived by Stephen K. Bannon, the president’s key advisor, to warn citizens regarding China’s threats. With skepticism of China increasing throughout the nation, from the White House to central government departments, suspicion and distrust have emerged (Swanson, 2019). Moreover, Beijing’s rise is undoubtedly seen as a national and economic security threat, and the critical challenge of the current era is thus a modern form of the Red Scare.
As noted by the Legislative Committee, people who have invoked the Fifth Amendment did not manage to testify or be proved to have violated the law have had some repercussions. According to McCarthyism and the Red Scare, (n.d.), the Cold War and anti-communist paranoia cleared the way for the Senator to launch investigations in 1953. Due to this, massive inquiries were undertaken by Congress into the radical activities of many Americans indicted for being communists or sympathizers of the movement. The result of these proceedings was to destroy many people’s lives and spread political prejudice against those accused of having conflicting ideological beliefs or supporting suspicious organizations. Thus, many people lost their jobs even without proven evidence of being communists.
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In conclusion, Senator McCarthy’s speech was of significant impact on America through his allegations of communist support among citizens and leadership of the country, leading to the Red Scare. His definition of this movement was not accurate, as morality seemed to be his understanding of the subject. He led a series of investigations that resulted in the loss of jobs by many citizens, and worse, no individual was charged with a link to communism, hence failure on his part. The Cambodian genocide event which happened between 1975 and 1979 and the Falun gong followers in the United States can also compare to the historic Red Scare. The actions of Senator McCarthy were therefore retrogressive as they impacted many people in and outside the United States. Many people lost their jobs making it impossible to cater to their families. It is therefore important for leaders to always examine their actions by trying to determine what their actions would mean to the nation and the citizens.
Chigas, G., & Mosyakov, D. (2020). Literacy and Education under the Khmer Rouge | Genocide Studies Program. Yale University.
McCarthy, J. (1950). “Enemies from Within” speech delivered in Wheeling, West Virginia.Web.
McCarthyism and the Red Scare (2019). Miller Center.
Swanson, A. (2019). A New Red Scare Is Reshaping Washington (Published 2019). Nytimes.com. Web.