Domestic Life in the 1950s

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How did the Cold War contribute to the conformity of American society in the 1950s, and how was this dangerous to freedom?

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While the United States's society has always been characterized by diverse strands of thought, the Cold War contributed to a push towards conformity in the US during the 1950s. A chief figure driving this conformity was Senator Joseph McCarthy; he held Senate hearings accusing people of being communists who were determined to undermine the US government. Such accusations could and did destroy careers, whether they were true or not. This atmosphere of fear led people to be very careful that nothing they said or did could be interpreted as communist or showing communist sympathies.

The McCarthy hearings had an especially chilling effect on the entertainment industry, as many Hollywood figures were hauled before the Senate and accused of being communist sympathizers. The careers of some actual communists in the industry were destroyed, along with people who were not communists at all; the accused no longer could get jobs and no longer could get their message out. Other artists, fearing false...

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