McCarthyism and Anti-Communist. This essay examines the political contest between President Harry S. Truman and Senator Joseph McCarthy (WS.), a contest which began with McCarthy’s speech in Wheeling, West Virginia and ended with the presidential election of 1952. What began as a dispute over Truman’s policies against domestic communism soon escalated into a partisan war for control over the issue of anti-communism. Truman, who was more than willing to have a showdown with Republicans on the Cold War, denounced his critics as “McCarthyites,” politicians who lied to the public and played upon its hysteria.
In his reaction to McCarthy, however, Truman engineered his own defeat. His own extreme anti-communism and his extreme partisanship placed the president in a theoretical straightjacket. His extremism prevented him from offering a clear distinction between his anti-communism and that of McCarthy. In the absence of such a distinction, Truman could neither destroy McCarthy nor retain his leadership of the issue of Cold War anti-communism.
McCarthyism and Anti-Communist Campaigns
The Cold War brought about an irrational fear of communism and communist activities in the United States. As we are learning this week, one of the most vocal instigators of this paranoia was Senator Joseph McCarthy. McCarthy delivered a speech about the imminent threat of communism on February 9, 1950. Perform a search on the internet and locate and read Joseph McCarthy’s speech given in Wheeling, West Virginia on February 9, 1950. Copy and paste the following keywords into your Google search bar: “Joseph McCarthy, Wheeling, West Virginia.” The speech is also referred to as “Enemies from Within.”
Construct the case study by responding to the following prompts:
- Explain how Senator Joseph McCarthy defined communist nations within the speech.
- What specific threats did these nations pose?
- Assess if Senator Joseph McCarthy charges were accurate.
- Analyze anti-communist sentiments during the Cold War era, were these sentiments valid. If so, how? If not, why not?
- Explain if there are other examples of events similar to the Red Scare that have occurred throughout history and modern day.