He served in the Senate from to In the American political lexicon, the term has its origin in a March , Washington Post editorial cartoon by Herbert Block, who depicted the four leading Republicans trying to push an elephant to stand on a teetering stack of 10 tar buckets. The term McCarthyism soon evolved to describe the practice of publicly accusing government employees of political disloyalty or subversive activities and using unsavory investigatory methods to prosecute them.
The practice held sway between and , a period of intense suspicion during which the U. As evidenced by congressional passage of the Subversive Activities Control Act of , which made up Title 1 of the Internal Security Act of also called the McCarran Act , a majority of Congress also shared the belief that CPUSA constituted an active conspiracy that was secretive and loyal to a foreign power and dedicated to the clandestine infiltration of U. Foster, and ten others for advocating the violent overthrow of the U. Although most scholars consider McCarthyism to be an outgrowth of the Palmer raids and the red scare of the s and the Smith Act of , which made it illegal to advocate, abet, or teach the desirability of overthrowing the U.
Joseph McCarthy. During his 10 years in the Senate, McCarthy and his staff gained notoriety for making outlandish accusations that, though initially directed to government employees, would later include Americans from all walks of life. Because he systematically engaged in the practice of public accusations of political disloyalty or subversion with little regard for evidence and the use of unfair investigatory methods, Senator McCarthy would later himself be accused of victimizing those who appeared before his committee and suppressing basic civil rights and liberties.
The men and women accused in both the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations and the House Un-American Activities Committee HUAC hearings had little chance to exonerate themselves once their identities were revealed to the public. Simply being accused of Communist sympathies was sufficient to damage or end many careers, because those accused could not otherwise argue their innocence.
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In , the Supreme Court decision in Yates v. United States put an end to the Smith Act prosecutions by requiring that the government prove that a defendant actually took concrete steps toward the forcible overthrow of the government; merely advocating it in theory would not suffice. The victims of McCarthyism — that is, those who were called by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations and the House Un-American Activities Committee — were either denied employment in the private sector or failed government security checks.
In the film industry alone, over three hundred actors, writers, and directors were denied work in the industry through the informal Hollywood blacklist , which prompted some to go into exile overseas. Today, McCarthyism is synonymous with any perceived government activity that suppresses unfavorable political or social views by limiting or undermining vital civil rights and liberties under the pretext of maintaining national security.
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Roosevelt As tensions between the U. Particularly after , HUAC assumed new heights of prominence and notoriety, and the committee conducted a series of high-profile hearings alleging that Communists disloyal to the U. The committee employed several controversial methods to accomplish its goal of ferreting out suspected Communists. Typically, an individual who raised the suspicions of HUAC received a subpoena to appear before the committee. During the hearing, the suspected Communist was grilled about his or her political beliefs and activities and then asked to provide the names of other people who had taken part in allegedly subversive activities.
In addition, those who refused to cooperate were often blacklisted by their employers. They lost their jobs and were effectively prevented from working in their chosen industry. These critics argued that most people who were called before the committee had broken no laws, but instead were targeted for their political beliefs or for exercising their right to free speech.
Supporters of the committee, on the other hand, believed that its efforts were justified given the grave threat to U.
The HUAC investigations delved into many areas of American life, but they paid special attention to the motion picture industry, which was believed to harbor a large number of Communists. Not wishing to get on the wrong side of Congress or the movie-going public, most film industry executives did not speak out against the investigations. In addition, many of the major studios imposed a strict blacklist policy against actors, directors, writers and other personnel implicated in Communist activity.
The film industry investigations reached their peak with the events surrounding the Hollywood Ten , a group of writers and directors who were called to testify in October All were cited for contempt of Congress and sentenced to prison terms, in addition to being blacklisted from working in Hollywood. HUAC also sounded an alarm about Communists infiltrating the federal government. The most infamous case began in August , when a self-confessed former member of the American Communist Party named Whittaker Chambers appeared before the committee.
During his dramatic testimony, Chambers accused Alger Hiss , a former high-ranking State Department official, of serving as a spy for the Soviet Union. They are nowhere, and that is why I am here today. You want to shut up every Negro who has the courage to stand up and fight for the rights of his people, for the rights of workers, and I have been on many a picket line for the steelworkers too.
And that is why I am here today. To England.
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And I sang. I did a long concert tour in England and Denmark and Sweden, and I also sang for the Soviet people, one of the finest musical audiences in the world. Will you read what the Porgy and Bess people said? They never heard such applause in their lives. May I explain to you what I did say?
I remember the speech very well, and the night before, in London, and do not take the newspaper, take me: I made the speech, gentlemen, Mr. It happened that the night before, in London, before I went to Paris.
Sen. Joseph McCarthy spearheaded investigations with little evidence
ROBESON: Two thousand students from various parts of the colonial world, students who since then have become very important in their governments, in places like Indonesia and India, and in many parts of Africa, two thousand students asked me and Mr. Dadoo to say there that they were struggling for peace, that they did not want war against anybody. Two thousand students who came from populations that would range to six or seven hundred million people.
That is what I said. No part of my speech made in Paris says fifteen million American Negroes would do anything. I said it was my feeling that the American people would struggle for peace, and that has since been underscored by the President of these United States. Now, in passing, I said— Mr. I said it was unthinkable to me that any people would take up arms, in the name of an Eastland, to go against anybody. Gentlemen, I still say that.
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This United States Government should go down to Mississippi and protect my people. That is what should happen. At the Paris Conference I said it was unthinkable that the Negro people of America or elsewhere in the world could be drawn into war with the Soviet Union. I said it is unthinkable. I did not say that there [in Paris]: I said that in the Worker. Did you say that? And, gentlemen, they have not yet done so, and it is quite clear that no Americans, no people in the world probably, are going to war with the Soviet Union.
So I was rather prophetic, was I not? They were not successful. Would you please let me read my statement at some point? ARENS: I do not hesitate one second to state clearly and unmistakably: I belong to the American resistance movement which fights against American imperialism, just as the resistance movement fought against Hitler. Why should the Negroes ever fight against the only nations of the world where racial discrimination is prohibited, and where the people can live freely? Did you make that statement? But what is perfectly clear today is that nine hundred million other colored people have told you that they will not.
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Four hundred million in India, and millions everywhere, have told you, precisely, that the colored people are not going to die for anybody: they are going to die for their independence. We are dealing not with fifteen million colored people, we are dealing with hundreds of millions. No color prejudice like in Mississippi, no color prejudice like in Washington.