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Essay on Joseph McCarthy and McCarthyism

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The Second Red Scare was a period of heightened fears of the Soviet Union and the political ideology of Communism. The paranoia and hysteria inherent to this period led to discrimination of Communists. Joseph McCarthy was a main player in this Red Scare, which was sometimes called the “Witch-Hunts in Washington.” He was a Wisconsin senator who made claims against those whom he suspected of being Communists or Communist sympathizers.

Joseph McCarthy was born in a small town in Wisconsin on November 15, 1908. After quitting school at the age of fourteen, he had a short stint as a chicken farmer and became the manager of a local grocery store (“McCarthy”). At the age of twenty he completed the four year high school curriculum in nine short
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His accusations generated national interest and gained him a significant amount of fame, or rather, infamy. However, it was later found out that the piece of paper he’d been holding during that speech had merely been his laundry receipt (Bates). Even so, McCarthy was already well on his way to becoming one of the most notable communist “hunters” in U.S. history.

The Second Red Scare took place during the Cold War. It arose largely due to widespread fear of the Communistic Soviet Union, but also due to strong opposition to Truman’s New Deal, mostly by conservative Republicans who equated the Deal’s labor unions and social programs to Communism (“The Second”). McCarthy began his hearings in order to identify what he believed was a Communist conspiracy, and stop the supposed Communist infiltration into the government. He has often been criticized for the methods he used in these hearings. For example, his “executive sessions,” a term which usually was synonymous with “closed,” were, as John G. Adams, the army’s counsel at many hearings, put it, neither closed nor secret, essentially boiling down to that “Joe could do whatever he wanted” (U.S. Senate xix). McCarthy’s harsh methods were often criticized, and in 1954, the Senate censured him for “his non-cooperation with and abuse of the Subcommittee on Privileges and Elections” and
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