Red Scare and Current Counterterrorism Efforts


It is evident that the phenomenon of Red Scare is among the most important aspects of American history due to its immense impact on social and political life of the country. The influence of this period on the current state of criminological policymaking in the United States could also be traced. Therefore, it is of high importance to investigate the causal relationships between policies implemented by FBI under the direction of J. Hoover and current counterterrorism efforts. Also, it is essential to explain the phenomenon of Red Scare in the terms of its impact on American jurisprudence.

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The Comparison of Red Scare Policies and Current Counterterrorism Efforts

As it is stated by Fox (2015), the priorities of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had changed considerably after the outbreak of the World War I. The newly passed Espionage, Selective Service, and Sabotage Acts shaped the primary scope of the FBI’s work in this period (Fox, 2015). It is also mentioned that agents were tasked with “gathering intelligence, identifying spies and defectors, rounding up army deserters” as well as with the investigation of other war-related crimes (Fox, 2015, p. 1). The situation changes even more dramatically when Director J. Hoover assumed his position of the head of FBI in 1924 (Fox, 2015). The policies implemented under his guidance in 1920s are usually associated with the phenomenon of Red Scare. This phenomenon largely derived from the widespread moods of enormous fear and intolerance toward communists among the American people (Fox, 2015).

As it was already mentioned, Red Scare impacted the development of social and political life in the United States to a significant extent. Therefore, it is possible to draw several parallels between the FBI policies under the direction of J. Hoover and current counterterrorism efforts. For example, the article by McCoy (2015) mentions that Red Scare was one of the most influencing impulses to the establishment of current surveillance policies of the United States, which is implemented both within the country and across the globe. Secondly, Michel (2015) argues that Red Scare has driven FBI to the destruction of Marcus Garvey’s United Negro Improvement Association, which is the largest African-American association in the history of U. S. Accordingly, it is possible to generalize that one of the most evident characteristics of Red Scare was seeking of the public enemy, and therefore it is possible to draw an analogy with the current counterterrorism efforts, which are largely based on the negative image of Muslim immigrants in America (Sidhu, 2016). Thus, in overall, one can argue that there are evident parallels between the actions of FBI on 1920s and contemporary policies related to counterterrorism.

Explanation of Red Scare and its Effects on American Jurisprudence

Further, it is of high importance to explain the origins of Red Scare as well as to overview its impact on the development of American jurisprudence. According to Williams (2018), there were numerous factors that reinforced the emerging situation, including the intensification of relationships between the United States and the Soviet Union. One of the most prominent changes in American jurisprudence is pointed out by McCoy (2015). He argues that under the direction of Obama, the FBI surveillance has been expanded immensely by enacting several legislations regarding the rights of FBI agents to investigate the private informational space of any American citizen (McCoy, 2015). Such expansion of surveillance indicates the direct violations of human rights, and thus American jurisprudence changes significantly in recent decades.


Fox, B. H. (2015). Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The Encyclopedia of Crime and Punishment, John Wiley & Sons.

McCoy, A. (2015). Policing the imperial periphery: The Philippine-American War and the origins of US Global Surveillance. Surveillance & Society, 13(1), 4-26.

Michel, A. (2015). American muslim organizations: Response to counterterrorism initiatives. Web.

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Sidhu, K. (2016). A Call for minority involvement in cybersecurity legislation reform and civil rights protests: Lessons from the anti-SOPA/PIPA demonstrations. Hastings Communications and Entertainment Law Journal, 38, 117-144.

Williams, Y. (2018). Red Scare. Web.

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