Imagine a world where one day none of your friends want nothing to do with you and strange men in suits show up at your own house and start accusing you of crimes you didn’t commit. This was a reality for many victims of the Red Scare during the Cold War. Although this is no longer prevalent as the Cold War ended years ago there is a very similar event taking place right before our very eyes today, that is the growing trend of Islamophobia. The Red Scare is considered one of the biggest mistakes in history. The Red Scare provides valuable lessons for today’s world and how we are facing the upsurge of Islamophobia such as people using hysteria to build their own political careers as well as accusing people of wrongdoing with no sufficient evidence.
Post World War II the Soviet Union and the United States were the world’s strongest superpowers. Each nation had different ideas about government and economics. The U.S had long been aware of Soviet communism and the rise of Russian leader Joseph Stalin’s takeover of his country. The dislike of the Americans by the USSR had gone on for decades in part because of the U.S refusal to treat the Soviet Union as part of the international community as well as the late entry into World War II, resulting in millions of Russian casualties. After the war ceased these problems worsened between the two countries creating mutual distrust. The United States government devised a foreign policy that focused around containing communism called the Truman Doctrine. In order to stop the threat of communism expansion there was a huge increase in defense spending. U.S officials funded the development of atomic weapons resulting in an arms race. Tensions were high between the two superpowers causing extreme fear from the people within each country hoping their world will not come to an end. “As the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States intensified in the late 1940s and early 1950s, hysteria over the perceived threat posed by Communists in the U.S. became known as the Red Scare.” (McCarthy)
During the Red Scare era and the current Islamophobic one there was, in both cases, a defining reason for the prosecution to even occur. As tensions with the Soviet Union rose the presumed “threat of communism” gained traction within the ideology of the american people to the point that “Federal employees were analyzed to determine whether they were sufficiently loyal to the government, and the House Un-American Activities Committee, as well as U.S. Senator Joseph R. McCarthy, investigated allegations”(McCarthy). The overall fear of the communist Soviet Union lead to the creation of organizations such as HUAC and the rise to power of certain people like McCarthy that would carry out this persecution. The United States had been a safe haven for refugees and immigrants from the middle east until “Immediately after the 9/11 attacks Islamophobia, Tlaib says, has gotten worse”(History). After this act of terrorism was committed the whole Islamic/ Muslim community became associated with this group of terrorists which led to heavy Islamophobia.
Persecution of the so called communists during the Red Scare and the so called terrorists of today’s Islamophobic society is very prevalent. In the case of the Red Scare the house of Un-American Activities Committee would target “Hollywood, the ranks of which HUAC believed were filled with communists”(The threat). The fear of communism became so uncontrolled that HUAC was created to persecute, largely on false claims, many successful directors and other positions in the movie business subsequently ruining their credibility and careers. Some politicians would use this fear to gain more political power. “McCarthy gave a speech that propelled him into the national spotlight. Waving a piece of paper in the air, he declared that he had a list of 205 known members of the Communist Party who were “working and shaping policy” in the State Department.”(McCarthy). McCarthy was able to use these false accusations to rise in the political ranks even to a point where he was appointed to the head of HUAC. As people were accused and found guilty of treason it only gave credibility to the fear of communism making the Red scare worse.
The Islamophobia in our society could be the next Red Scare considering there similarities. The fear of communists and Islamic extremists have both caused the unconstitutional persecution of thousands of innocent people. With your new found knowledge of the Red Scare and the way we let our fear cost innocent people there ways of life in the past, you must fight against Islamophobia whether it be through voting against discriminatory legislation or getting your voice heard. We as a nation need to spread awareness of this pressing issue by teaching this topic in schools for example as well as through government propaganda. Educating people is the best thing to do about the injustice while it is still reversible.
Article by Connor King & Video by Hank Sanford
History.com Staff. “Joseph R. McCarthy.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 2009, www.history.com/topics/cold-war/joseph-mccarthy.
Philipp, Abby, and Abigail Hauslohner. “Trump on the Future of Proposed Muslim Ban, Registry: ‘You Know My Plans’.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 22 Dec. 2016, www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2016/12/21/trump-on-the-future-of-proposed-muslim-ban-registry-you-know-my-plans/?utm_term=.ab6376113356.
“The Threat of Communism During the Cold War.” Synonym, classroom.synonym.com/threat-communism-during-cold-war-23645.html.