Red Scare - Essay Example

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Red Scare" is not just a communist scare, it is a complex phenomenon, which is composed of social, economic and political factors - as historical evidence shows, "Red Scare" was only a manifestation of tension, provoked by the First World War, the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia and inadequate actions of the US government…
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Download file to see previous pages It might be said that from the government's point of view the roots of the "Red Scare" lie in the subversive actions of foreign and leftist elements in the United States, so it decided to suppress dissent and help promote pro-war opinion in the preparation for the American entry into World War.
At the heart of the Red Scare was the conscription law of 1917, which was put in place during World War I for the armed forces to be able to conscript more Americans. This law caused many problems for the conscientious objector to WWI, because for one to claim that status, one had to be a member of a "well-recognized" religious organization which forbade their members to participation in war. As a result of such legislation, 20,000 conscientious objectors were inducted into the armed forces (Feuerlicht 74). After the real war ended in 1918, the ideological war turned against conscientious objectors and other radical minorities such as Wobblies, who were members of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), and Socialists as well. These Wobblies and Socialists were damned as being subversives who were trying to overthrow the United States government. Wobblies, in particular, were persecuted against for speaking out against the capitalist system. Although most of what they said was only to attract attention to their cause, their rhetoric was taken seriously by the government and its officials. From the very beginning of the Red Scare, the Wobblies were the subject of attack by the government, because they were a symbol of radicalism. The government put in place legislation, not only against the Wobblies, but also against Socialists and Communists, due to the fact that the government did not distinguish one of its enemies from another. One such action taken by the government prevented Wobblies who were not yet citizens from naturalization, even if they quit their organization. In 1917, the US government made a law (Espionage Act) which gave the Secretary of Labor the power to arrest or deport any alien "advocating or teaching" destruction of property or the "overthrow of government by force." Words such as "advocating" and the vague language used in the law allowed the government to use deportation as a cure for the anti-government views of its enemies, namely the Wobblies, Communists, and Socialists.
After the war formally ended in 1918, all the groups which opposed the war came under fire. They were seen as destructive to the peace and security of the American nation. The focus of the attacks was no longer on the conscientious objectors, for many of them were already jailed during the war, and were still in jail at the time; it had switched over to the Socialists and the Wobblies (Renshaw 63-65; Zinn 108). In 1917, President Wilson established a "Committee on Public Information" to create and release news favorable to the Allied cause and hostile to Germany. To enforce the efforts of the Committee, the "Bureau of Investigation" was created and disrupted the work of German-American, union, and leftist organizations through raids, arrests, and legal prosecution. The Socialist Party of America strongly opposed the war on pacifist grounds and the result was persecution and punishment under the provisions of the Espionage Act (Murray 18). This act penalized anyone who obstructed the operation of the armed forces, was insubordinate, or displayed disloyalty ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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