The Red Scare was the name for the anti-communist militancy that swept the US in the years after World War II. Postwar rhetoric about Godless Communism infused all media and invaded Americans’ everyday lives. Fear of spies, threats of a communist takeover, and paranoia about nuclear war were exploited as reality as well as fantasy, and were offered in large doses in print and on film, often as entertainment but with psychologically devastating results for the audience. Red-baiting reached its peak in the US in the mid to late 1950s. The power of ant-Communist propaganda was so effective that Americans relinquished basic rights and liberties. Justice William O. Douglas warned in 1952 that
the restriction of free thought and free speech is the most dangerous of all subversions. It is the one anti- American act that could most easily defeat us.
Photograph by Hans Splinter (Flickr)
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