HUAC – what do the letters stand for?
The House Special Committee on Un-American Activities, popularly known as the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), was created by the House of Representatives to investigate allegations of subversive actions by individuals or organizations that had the potential to threaten the functioning and security of the United States government. Under the chairmanship of Rep. Martin Dies (R, TX), the committee investigated accusations that programs begun as part of the New Deal were linked to the Communist Party and that labor unions, if not actually allied, were at least sympathetic to the Communist agenda. Accusations of being a Communist sympathizer impacted the careers of many Hollywood stars of the late 1930s and 1940s. While the Committee stated those accused would be given the opportunity to defend themselves, this was seldom done, or was permitted in a kangaroo court-type of atmosphere.