An Overview of McCarthyism and the McCarthy Era
This is the first definition ever of the word McCarthyism, first published in 1954. The basis of this definition is the life of lawyer, judge, and senator of the United States of America, Joseph R. McCarthy. If one takes a look at the actions of this man, it is not very hard to understand where this definition comes from.
Joeseph McCarthy was a master of media and public manipulation for the purpose of his own notoriety. Throughout his career as a politician, he used many issues to gain him attention, the most well known, of course, being his anti-communist crusade/witch hunt during the early 1950, of which he was the leading spokesperson. McCarthy’s record at every stagae of his life and career has been one of failure and ridicule, of lies and half-truths, yet somehow he managed to pull enough media strings to gain him a positive reputation with the American people through his antics.
McCarthy’s first political position was as judge of the tenth circuit court. While he was in this position, he was cited numerous times for “highly improper” behavior, such as destroying records and rushing through cases just to clear the backlog, with no particular regard to seeing that actual justice was done. He also destroyed records of cases that could show him as negligent for the purpose of destroying evidence that could be used against him. Ironically enough, the slogan under which McCarthy won this position was “Justice is Truth in Action.” The next step for Joseph was his short war career. Although he saw almost no real battle time, he did not allow this to keep him out of the media. He went so far to attract attention as to unnecessarily fire off 4,700 rounds of ammunition. When he returned home, he told the paper that he had been wounded during the war. This was completely untrue and furthered the pattern of dishonesty for which he would eventually be known.
McCarthy’s next stage of politics and lies was his term as Senator. This is the beginning of the famed anti-communist accusations which have defined McCarthyism. In order to win the senatorship, he accused his partner of having communist inclinations and a mouthpiece for the communist party. This was not a new tool to be used by republicans, but it is one which he would take to a new level. During the early part of his term, Joseph often irritated the Republican party by showing blatant disregard for rules and for backing unusual platforms. He was also known by this time for bending the truth as it fit his needs and for turning any serious discussion into a personal, usually false, attack on his opponent. Because largely of these views of him, his population was dwindling. He knew that he needed a new platform from which he could attract the support and attention of the media. That issue was the manipulation of the red scare. On February 9, 1950, he launched his crusade that would...