Why did communism cause such fear in the United States in the postwar period?
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Communism caused fear in the US for two main reasons.
First, it was spreading across the world and gaining in power. China became communist in 1949. The Soviet Union got the atomic bomb in that year as well. These sorts of things made it seem as if communism was a real threat.
Second, it was an ideology that could conceivably conquer the US without invading. If stopping communism had only been about military power, it would have been less frightening because the US could win military battles. Instead, communism could enter the country in less obvious ways, by "converting" people to believe in its message.
Communism, then, was spreading across the world and could conceivably take over the hearts and minds of Americans if they were not vigilant.
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