I’ve been wondering about why America was so paranoid about communism. I have read about McCarthyism and couldn’t believe it was true. Why would America, a country based on trying out new political ideas, be so FREAKED about communism?
And McCarthy, by most accounts, was this cynical guy using communism as a political lever to get power.
I just couldn’t see how the lever worked. What was in the minds of the populace that gave this fear purchase? Why would people who had gone through the depression let someone’s political opinions keep them from having a job? A job was a precious commodity. But the blacklists did just that. It was almost the meanest thing that anyone could think of, during the context of that time period.
I just couldn’t get it. What was so threatening about communism that people came up with this idea that there were spies everywhere, and that a communist message could be hidden in a movie script that would INFECT the whole nation. The pen had to be ripped from the hands of people who even knew people who knew communists.
BAD BAD BAD communists.
And yet, when I read the communist manifesto, I never got why it was so scary. Sure, for monarchies, it seemed pretty harsh. But we were voters here. We were a democracy. And if the majority thought there were good principles in communist philosophy, then it was our policy to let those have their sway.
I just couldn’t get it.
But I was watching the History channel this Saturday. I usually can’t STAND the history channel. Chris loves it. I have to groan and complain whenever he turns it on. It’s a joke now.
But I turned on the TV, and it was on the history channel and they were talking about the BOMB. The A-bomb.
I remembered, I remembered reading and thinking about nuclear war. It was the scariest thing anyone could think of. My mom told me she had been taught to hide under her desk if a bomb was dropped.
I laughed “What good would a desk do against a nuclear weapon? How ridiculous is that?”
But this show said that the A-bomb was a puny little bomb compared to the Hydrogen bomb that was invented soon after. Maybe a desk might have helped with the A-bomb.
They showed clips of the films like the kind my mom must have watched. “Little Jimmy has dropped to the ground, and he is covering his neck. That way he will avoid being burned.”
Oh my God! How scary!
Of course, WW 2 was when America raced to complete the A-Bomb, thinking that Germany had one in the works too. Germany surrendered before we got a chance to use the bomb on them. Whew.
But Japan didn’t. And we got to use the bomb on them.
I cannot describe my horror and sadness at the destruction caused by the A-bomb. The show said that it caused two deaths a week for 20 years after it was dropped. That’s a long time to keep bringing death. I hope that keeps the warmongers in check.
And on one hand, it has. No one has used a nuclear weapon since.
But check it out…There were Russian Spies who leaked the information of how to make a nuclear weapon to the Russians!
The Russians were on our side in the war, but that means nothing in geo-politics. Russian spies had infiltrated our military research operations and gotten the secret.
And the Russians had the bomb. And the Russians were busy taking over Europe, which showed a will to expansion.
And the Russians had the bomb.
And two people a week kept dying in Japan.
And maybe we were next.
THAT’s when America made a bigger, nastier bomb: the H-Bomb.
and I suddenly understood why we were so afraid of the Russians, and what purchase McCarthy had on the fears of the people.
That was the scared senseless part of America that he tapped into, and used to his advantage. When you have the scariest Mother of all bombs hanging over your head, freedom to try out new political theories seems to drop in importance.
SO that’s where all this “Are you now or have you ever been a member of the communist party?” comes from.
But the strangest thing about it. The Rosenbergs were put to death for their role in the spying activity. THey were couriers. The guy who was on the inside, Fuchs, was in prison for nine years and then went on to lecture in East Germany.
Only nine years.
Stunning how things work out sometimes.
But the history channel gave me the last piece of the puzzle, despite my derision. I may watch it once in a while, now.