Compare and contrast the Scopes Monkey trial to the McCarthy hearings? Compare and contrast the Scopes Monkey trial to the McCarthy hearings. List three ways in which the spectacle of these...

Compare and contrast the Scopes Monkey trial to the McCarthy hearings?

Compare and contrast the Scopes Monkey trial to the McCarthy hearings. List three ways in which the spectacle of these trials are similar and in contrast, list three ways these trials are dissimilar. What do they say about American society during their respective periods? Consider carefully issues of anti-elitism, rural vs. urban, and publicity including but not limited to new forms of media representation.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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One great similarity between the two trials is the fact that judgments upon people were made based upon faith.  For, in many ways, there are similarities between chauvinistic patriotism and religious faith.  Both draw upon the fear of protecting one's beliefs.

While both of these issues have been resolved, there remain vestiges of the threat to faiths that these trials engendered.  There is yet in this country a fearful need to protect certain beliefs.  Witness the prohibition of evolution being taught as scientifically based to this day in schools in states such as Alabama, for instance, where it is presented briefly as theory only.  In Texas some years ago, Mel and Norma Gabler and their organization, Educational Research Analysts, campaigned to have any mention of evolution expunged from state textbooks.  To this day, large publishing companies issue texts that have been reviewed by liberal states such as California and conservative states such as Texas.

Likewise, to this day, also, there are long lists of people considered as suspicious by the FBI.  In fact, only a couple of days ago, a major network that has a morning show had one of the prominent journalists mention the large number of suspects on the FBI's list of possible terrorists.  Are these people really a threat?  Who knows, just as who knew for sure whether certain people were communists, or whether they posed a threat to the safety of others in this country. 

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Too long to go into all of this here:

Similar: both are traditionalistic attempts to push back against a perceived threat from more "modern," elite type ideas. Both are fueled in a sense by the media.  Media flocked to Dayton for the trial, McCarthy used the media well with his alleged lists.

Dissimilar: Monkey Trial and the issues it was about were not nearly so national as anti-communism.  Also much less rural-urban in the McCarthy Era.  McCarthy Era was tied to geopolitical issues and national securtiy.  Monkey Trial was just cultural and domestic.

Monkey Trial shows that society was struggling with issues of modernity.  McCarthyism shows a society that was worried about its continued existence.

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