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What effects did the Red Scare have on American society in the 1920s?

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daphne00 | (Level 1) Salutatorian

Posted February 24, 2012 at 8:32 PM via web

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What effects did the Red Scare have on American society in the 1920s?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted February 24, 2012 at 9:11 PM (Answer #1)

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I think that the Red Scare really did much to bring out the "harmonious dissonance" of society in the time period.  One of the reasons why the 1920s has monikers like "the Jazz Age" or "the Roaring '20s" is to bring out the dissonant tone that was a part of the time period.  Naturally, the immediate images of the 1920s was the flapper, the speakeasy, and the use of sex and alcohol as part of the partying atmosphere.  Yet, there was a hollowness in this time period, something that helped to underscore that the sense of total immersion and complete enjoyment was not entirely actually accurate.  The idea of the Red Scare helped to enhance this.  While there was a point in the time period where everyone could feel that "a good time could be had," the Red Scare brought out how much of a danger to political withdrawal actually is.  The isolationism into the realms of image, celebrity, and self- indulgence are all examples of how if individuals withdraw political activity danger can result.  For example, the Red Scare fed into Sacco and Vanzetti's trial, something that demonstrated how those in the position of political power have unfettered access to control and authority if the public remains silent and withdraws from asking questions. Another example were the various imprisonments and strike- breaking tactics of the government were so prevalent.  While so much of the society was driven inwards, embracing a lack of political will in their own sense of identity, the fear of "Reds" helped to create a dissonant tone where freedom was not embraced but rather curtailed significantly.   I think that this becomes an example of how the Red Scare has a chilling effect on American Society in the 1920s.

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