Red Scare (Great Events from History: North American Series)
Article abstract: Xenophobia and fear of communism reach hysteria in the wake of Russia’s Bolshevik Revolution.
Summary of Event
Late in the afternoon of Friday, January 2, 1920, agents of the Department of Justice, in a concerted raid on reputedly communist headquarters, began arresting thousands of persons in major cities throughout the United States. They poured into private homes, clubs, poolhalls, and coffee shops, seizing citizens and aliens, communists and non-communists, tearing apart meeting halls, and damaging and destroying property. Agents jailed their victims, held them incommunicado and without counsel, and interrogated them. Prisoners who could demonstrate U.S. citizenship were released, although often into the custody of state officials who hoped to try them under state syndicalist laws. Aliens were released a few days later, unless they were members of the Communist Party or the Communist Labor Party—two factions in the new U.S. communist movement. The Department of Justice hoped to deport these “undesirables.” In two days, nearly five thousand persons were arrested; over the next two weeks, some estimates have it, another thousand were seized. The arrests were conducted without regard for due process of law, and the treatment of those who found themselves under arrest was sometimes barbarous. These raids were the climax to a wave of chauvinism, antiradicalism, and anxiety-ridden intolerance...
(The entire section is 2010 words.)
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Red Scare (West's Encyclopedia of American Law)
Throughout much of the twentieth century, the United States worried about Communist activities within its borders. This concern led to sweeping federal action against ALIENS and citizens alike during periods known today as Red scares. Using the derogatory term Red for Communist, the phrase is a form of criticism: it implies overreaction resulting from excessive suspicion, unfounded accusation, and disregard for CONSTITUTIONAL LAW.
The first Red scare followed the Bolshevik revolution in Russia in November 1917, and lasted until 1920. It was marked by antiradical legislation in U.S. immigration law, extensive federal probes of suspected radicals and their organizations, and mass arrests and deportations of aliens. The second Red scare arose prior to WORLD WAR II, and reached new heights during the COLD WAR years.
The origins of the first Red scare lay in the Russian Revolution and the horrendous experience of WORLD WAR I. COMMUNISM was not yet perceived as the only enemy; ANARCHISM (the advocacy of violent overthrow of government and law) also caused fear. In the United States, no great effort was made to separate these two political philosophies, for they both seemed to represent a single threat: foreign attempts to undermine the nation's government and...
(The entire section is 960 words.)