Friday, April 29, 2011

Schrecker - Many Are the Crimes

Schrecker, Ellen. Many Are the Crimes: McCarthyism in America. Boston: Little, Brown, 1998.

"McCarthyism... was the most widespread and longest lasting wave of political repression in American history." A broad coalition hounded a generation of radicals and associates. McCarthyism dominated politics from the late 40s through the 50s. The spectrum of acceptable political debate was narrowed. Its power was drawn from he willingness to violate civil liberties in order to eradicate a perceived threat which had actually been contained.

Nitty Gritty
Many McCarthyisms...
-ultraconservative: patriotic groups and right-wing activists who purged textbooks of favorable references to the United Nations
-liberal: supported sanctions against communists but not non-communists.
-left wing: anti-Stalinist radicals who attacked communism as betrayal of socialist ideal
-partisan: Nixon and McCarthy who used it to further their careers

Disputes idea of McCarthyism as populism, and sign of insecurities and resentments of ordinary people. Rather, notes research shows it was a concerted campaign by a loosely structured, self-conscious network of activists who had been working even before the Cold War to drive communists out of the government.

Successful: people were timid to join groups left of the Democratic party.

American Communists were authoritarian, manipulative, conspiratorial, secretive, self-destructive servants of a brutal Soviet tyranny.

Focuses on FBI which, under Hoover, spread the anticommunist agenda.

Kenneth O'Reilly - AHR
"Schrecker makes a convincing case that
historians need a better understanding of McCarthyism
to explain adequately the nihilistic response to
Martin Luther King, Jr., and the modern civil rights
movement. Or the implosion of left-wing labor unions
in particular and an American left in general. Or the
United States' decision to intervene in Vietnam. Or
"the contempt for constitutional limitations" (p. 414)
that characterized so much of the 1970s and 1980s with
the Richard M. Nixon administration's Watergate adventures
and the Ronald Reagan administration's
Iran-Contra mess."

Also, McCarthyism made it so that the Henry Wallace questions of whether the Cold War was in America's national interest were quashed by the Truman administration.

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