The Crucible And Modern Day Mc Carthyism

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What is McCarthyism? It is the public onslaught of an individual or an individual’s character by means of baseless and uncorroborated charges, basically the repudiation of a person’s reputation. Joe McCarthy was the Wisconsin senator that evoked this era of fear and paranoia by inflaming the current fear of world domination by the Communist party that enveloped the Nation. He did this by announcing that he had discovered “57 cases of individuals who would appear to be either card carrying members or certainly loyal to the Communist Party, but who nevertheless are still helping to shape our foreign policy.” (McCarthy, 1950, p. 2), later the amount of implicated individuals rose to 205. These accusations launched McCarthy into the national spotlight where he then began his smear campaign against many well-known Americans, which was commonly referred to as “witch-hunts”. Because of McCarthy’s actions, up to 12, people lots their jobs hundreds were incarcerated. He then turned his sights to book banning because he claimed there were 30,000 books written by all shades of Communists. After his lists were made public all were removed from the Overseas Library Program. But he was not finished yet, he then assailed members of the entertainment business. He had writers and actors brought to trial. Many of these people were blacklisted and worse, all without a single shred of evidence. When people spoke out against McCarthy they were thrown onto the communist train, until enough people came forward to rebuke McCarthy’s unprecedented tactics. At this point he fell from political power into dishonor on December 2, 1954. This ended the McCarthy era, but not the atmosphere of paranoia that lingers in the nation today.
One of the men persecuted by Joseph McCarthy was Arthur Miller. Miller wrote the play The Crucible because he felt he needed to address the current state of persecution, but did not want to be identified as a covert Communist in any way. His answer came when he read Charles W. Upham's 1867 study of the 1692 Salem witch trials, in which he identified with John Proctor. After reading this account of the Salem witch trials, be felt this would be "a point of moral reference in contemporary society.” (Miller, 1996, p. 158) in which he could address the injustice of the “alleged Communists from the State Department to Hollywood” (Miller, 1996, p. 158). In The Crucible the court allowed spectral evidence for condemnation; whereas, in the McCarthy era the very thoughts and intentions of an individual were enough to condemn, even when there is absolutely no evidence to back up the accusation. In writing The Crucible, Miller impresses on society a timeless and compelling story of how paranoia and intolerance can destroy not only a community, but a nation...

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