The Red Scare Essay

1441 words - 6 pages

It is a commonly held, and largely mistaken, belief that the United States of America was founded on religious tolerance and freedom. Far from the truth this is, however...nearly the opposite, in fact. The founders of this country, the Puritans, were strict and vengeful in their religious practices...so zealous and firm about prayer-this and holy-that that they actually left their native country so that they could live out their strict, vengeful lives alone. The Puritans were singular in their cause, and uniform in their thoughts. In order to drive out the Devil, you must do this, not eat this, drink this, and so on. Violators and dissenters were purged, whether it be burning, hanging, drowning, or stoning (oh-so-many ways to die in the Colonies).And we carry this on, even today. Whether we know it or not, Americans still engage in this intolerance of differing views and opinions...if we see it as a threat, whether it truly is or not, it is dealt with. Communism was no different. The "Reds" and "Commies" were persecuted because they believed in something that was simply different. Many of these Communists were simply out to get better wages for their families. And then history caught up with itself, skipped back to the first track, and repeated. The government framed and the people blamed and they became an amorphous mob of seething anger and raging bigotry.First there were the Palmer Raids, and then McCarthyism, followed by the Hollywood Blacklist. The United States feared conspiracy from all sides during the aftermath of the first World War, all the way into the end (and beyond) of the second World War. Prejudice is a strikingly popular national pastime in America: one that we are doomed to continue.After the victory in the World War One made the world safe for democracy, another war continued: one that sought instead to make America safe for uniformity. The government would gladly allow independent radicals, or a loosely connected group of individuals to function within their basic "rights" as American citizens, but a large-scale organization promoting an alternative form of government? Preposterous! Unheard of! And so, in stepped Alexander Mitchell Palmer, United States Attorney General serving under President Woodrow Wilson. A fervent patriot, Palmer quickly began to crack down on political dissent. It was only after the detonation of several bombs throughout eight U.S. cities (including Washington D.C., which damaged Palmer's own home) that Palmer began to rabidly seek out radicals and "Reds" in a series of very-well-publicized raids on known radicals and "Leftists", making many arrests, using the Espionage Act of 1917 and the Sedition Act of 1918 for legal justification.Yet much of what they did was far from legal. Palmer's men (without warrants) smashed upUnion offices and Communist/Socialist headquarters, being sure to be "American-Friendly" and concentrate most of the raids on foreigners, eventually arresting up to and over 10,000...

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