I’m finally back from seclusion and the land of homework, so that’s good news for my readers. If you’re new to my blog, Mondays are dedicated to an event from this same day in history. So, with that we return to #HistoryMonday. Today’s historical event is tied to the front page of the New York Times from 1952.
On this date, in 1952 the New York Times reported on the growing pandemic in America of Communism. The New York Times published three separate stories addressing concerns that Communists were launching an attempt to undermine America.
The most damning story was based on reports on the Radio Writers’ Guild from investigations by the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee. For what it’s worth, this committee was not chaired by Joseph McCarthy (R-WI), but instead by Patrick McCarran (D-NV). The NYT story about the Radio Writers’ Guild explained that a majority of the guild was communist and since they controlled much of American media there was a concerted effort to win hearts and minds of Americans to communism. The second NYT story detailed the concerns from the American Legion and their issues with Pres. Eisenhower. Supposedly the Legion was unhappy that Pres. Eisenhower’s Secretary of State David Acheson was not addressing the communist threats in Asia. For balance sake, the paper did include a rebuttal from Adlai Stevenson decrying patriotism with false bravado to combat the ‘Reds’ even including the name change of the Cincinnati Reds to the Cincinnati Redlegs.
While this may not exactly qualify as one specific event, it shows the mind of Americans and the press towards the Communist threat in America. Sen. McCarthy’s efforts to hunt down and expel Communists, along with his counterparts on the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) represented a mindset that existed at the beginning of the Cold War and suspicions about people who were sympathetic to Communism.
What’s interesting, is some six decades ago, everyone was suspicious of Russian interference in American politics and everyday life. We still have suspicion of that, only the Russians are no longer Communist, and Communism’s little brother Socialism is tolerated and anyone claiming to be a Democratic Socialist is a serious contender for the Presidency and Legislative leadership. I would argue that we don’t have a Red Scare happening, but we have a Brown or Black scare. The media targets of Antifa are worried that Pres. Trump is either a Nazi or a Fascist, and Trump sometimes unfairly paints the media and celebrities with a broad brush like McCarthy, McCarran, et. al did towards the Radio Writers’ Guild, the Hollywood Blacklist, and the Rosenbergs. I agree that Jim Acosta and Don Lemon of CNN are too Leftist and antagonistic towards Pres. Trump for what seems like minutiae or trivial issues. I think Jake Tapper or Juan Williams do their best to ask legitimate questions of Trump and try to be as fair-minded as possible. I would like to see more of Hollywood and the rest of the entertainment industry even their stance, but the money seems to be with the resistance, so most conservative celebrities will themselves be backlisted if they show any partiality to Trump. Although, I have seen promise from of all people Kanye & Kim Kardashian West to work with Trump. I also don’t think that we are in a place that the majority of Americans are afraid of Trump being a Russian puppet or fascist like Americans were during the Red Scare. I think people have found more media outlets and done their own research to make up their minds than buying into mob hysteria and believing the daily digest from Congress. Thanks to 24-hour news networks, CSPAN, and political media outlets online people can see beyond the lens of a monolithic media like everyone in the 1950’s did.
For a worthwhile look at McCarthyism and media, I’d recommend watching “Good Night and Good Luck” that depicts Edward R. Murrow’s attempts to challenge Sen. McCarthy’s anticommunist efforts.