During the early years of the Cold War, the anticommunist witch hunt that we now call McCarthyism swept through American society. As we will discover, McCarthyism was much more than the career of the blustering senator from Wisconsin who gave it a name. It was the most widespread and longest-lasting episode of political repression in American history. Dozens of men and women went to prison, thousands lost their jobs, and untold numbers of others saw what happened to those people and refrained from expressing controversial or unpopular ideas. McCarthyism remains all too relevant today; if nothing else, it reminds us that we cannot take our basic freedoms for granted.
This course aims to provide a basic understanding of what happened during the Cold War red scare of the late 1940s and 1950s. It will look at this red scare from the perspective of both the victims and the perpetrators, and will try to answer the following question: How could such a politically repressive movement arise in a modern democratic society such as the post-World War II United States?
Lecture 1 Junius Scales and My Sixth-Grade Teacher: Two Stories of the McCarthy Era and What They Tell Us About Political Repression in Cold War America
Lecture 2 Communism in America: The World of the Witches
Lecture 3 Anticommunism in America: The World of the Witch Hunters
Lecture 4 The Rehearsal for McCarthyism: Anticommunism and Political Repression Before the Cold War
Lecture 5 The Cold War Comes to Washington: Communism, Anticommunism, and the Truman Administration's Loyalty-Security Program
Lecture 6 The Orchestra Leader: J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI, and the Machinery of McCarthyism
Lecture 7 Soviet Espionage and Internal Security: The Big Spy Cases and Their Political Impact
Lecture 8 The Committees and Their Witnesses: "Are You Now or Have You Ever Been . . .?"
Lecture 9 Joe McCarthy and the Loss of China: Anticommunism as Partisan Politics
Lecture 10 The Hollywood Blacklist and Beyond: The Entertainment Industry Under Fire
Lecture 11 On the Waterfront and in the Schools: Political Tests for Employment
Lecture 12 The Dog That Didn't Bark: The Collapse of the Liberals
Lecture 13 Collateral Damage: Private Lives During the Red Scare
Lecture 14 McCarthyism and American Democracy: What Were the Costs?