What kinds of assault on civil liberties occurred betwwen WW1 and WW2 and what national and international factors caused them?
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Perhaps the most flagrant violation of civil liberties were the so-called "Palmer Raids" conducted by US Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer in 1919-1920. During these raids, thousands of people were arrested, allegedly because of fears that they would commit acts of sabotage, assassinations, and other crimes. In reality, most were simply people whose politics were deemed unacceptable, such as socialists, communists, anarchists, and even union leaders and feminists. A disproportionate number of these "radicals" were immigrants. The international context for this was the Bolshevik Revolution, which brought communists into power in Russia. Within the United States itself, the raids were an expansion of the repressive policies enacted during World War I, which often targeted so-called "radicals." But it was also a consequence of the so-called "Red Scare," which saw fears of communist revolution, fueled by events in Russia, lead to persecution of immigrants, who were often identified with radicalism. These sentiments also fit in with growing anti-unionism on the part of businessmen and government leaders in the United States.Another manifestation of these fears was the rejuvenation of the Ku Klux Klan, which became a national organization devoted to anti-Semitism and racial nationalism as much as to anti-black racism. In the South, the period also saw an explosion of lynchings, perhaps the grossest violation of civil liberties, a cruel mockery of due process.
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