What was the Second Red Scare, and how did it affect the politics and society of the United States?  

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The Second Red Scare occurred between 1947 and 1957 and is synonymous with the term "McCarthyism" thanks to the prominent role of Senator Joseph McCarthy in instigating an increased fear in Communism amongst American citizens. As a result of increasing divisions between Communist powers such as China and Russia, who was becoming increasingly antagonistic against an American-led Western block of power, there was massive fear of communist revolution and leftist ideologies that would threaten the stability of capitalist America. McCarthy and others thus instigated the Second Red Scare as a means of trying to ensure that American society did not become tainted by the pervasive spread of communist ideology, and famously tried to label many successful playwrights and public figures as being communist, such as Arthur Miller, whose play The Crucible captures his experience.

During this historical period, laws were introduced such as the McCarran Internal Security Act of 1950 that restricted civil liberties for the sake of internal security, even though figures such as Truman argued that such laws travestied the Bill of Rights and could represent the beginnings of a totalitarian state. American society was greatly impacted by this Second Red Scare, and themes of infiltration and destruction of American society by outsiders captured the imagination of an entire generation, as is seen by the predominance of such themes in media and literature of the time.

 

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