by admin - November 20th, 2017

By Sam Maglione

McCarthyism was named after Joseph McCarthy. Joseph McCarthy was a Republican senator. During the 1950s, McCarthy used tactics against those whom he believed to be Communists. He was becoming a person that America would fear. “However, with a public that followed newspapers carefully, and the exposure that a national media gave him, McCarthy was able to bluff and bully his way to becoming the most feared man in America for a few years” (Encyclopedia of…). Not only was McCarthy feared by the public but he was also feared by other politicians. They feared being labeled a communist by him. “In February 1950, appearing at the Ohio County Women’s Republican Club in Wheeling, West Virginia, McCarthy gave a speech that propelled him into the national spotlight. Waving a piece of paper in the air, he declared that he had a list of 205 known members of the Communist Party who were ‘working and shaping policy’ in the State Department” (Joseph R. McCarthy).

A young Joseph McCarthy

McCarthy had ruined a lot of lives. It was ruining the careers of people and families and friendships. Many Americans were accused of being a communist during this era. They then went through many investigations. Although McCarthy was accusing all of these people of being communists, he had little to no proof of any of this. Joseph McCarthy spent almost five years accusing people of being communists. “Sylvia Jarrico, former wife of the blacklisted Paul Jarrico, who was fired from her job as an editor with Hollywood Quarterly because she refused to sign the University of California loyalty oath, says simply, ‘We lived with the constant sense of being hunted.’” (Naming Names…).

During McCarthyism, people were considered guilty if they were even associated with people who were communists. But a similar things is going on today as well with Donald Trump and the Russians. If anyone in his campaign ever met with or spoke to a Russian, some people are saying that he is guilty of collusion. Even if there is no evidence of any wrongdoing. They are presumed to be guilty just because of association. There was no crime actually committed or proven. This is the same thing that was happening with McCarthyism.

In the 1950s, the whole idea of McCarthyism had worked because it had played off of people’s fear. This was during a time when Americans were afraid of Russia and the nuclear war. So even though there was little evidence to prove who were communists and who weren’t communists, when someone accused you of working with the Russians, you were presumed to be guilty because people were scared and they would rather have been safe rather than sorry.

Works Cited

Navasky, Victor. “Naming Names: The Social Costs of McCarthyism.” Naming Names: The Social Costs of McCarthyism–by Victor Navasky, Staff. “Joseph R. McCarthy.”, A&E Television Networks, 2009,

Stentiford, Barry. “McCarthyism.” Encyclopedia of Chinese-American Relations, edited by Yuwu Song, McFarland, 1st edition, 2009. Credo Reference, Accessed 17 Nov 2017.

3 Responses to “McCarthyism”

  1. Emma Greenberg says:

    It’s really interesting that even like 60-70 years ago fear of Russians and then being inside of government is still an influential argument. It makes me wonder what history will have to say about the current Russia investigation.

    • Matas Buivydas says:


      I think that the history with the Russians will only solidify the argument for the Russian meddling in the elections. It can be seen that, when it was heard that the Russians had some sort of interference with the election, people associated this situation with the past relationship.

      Regarding the blog – I agree with how many people rather be “safe than sorry”. With the spread of fear of communism, it brought both benefits and faults.

  2. Jenna Goodreau says:

    I find it interesting that people were considered guilty even if they were just associated with communists, it really shows how on-edge people were during this time. It is sad that so many lives were ruined because McCarthy was accusing people of being communists even though he had almost no evidence, but I see why it worked because like you said people would rather be safe than sorry.