“As is well known, ‘McCarthyism’ was an alleged focus of political evil in the 1950s: Accusations of Communist taint, without factual basis; bogus lists of supposed Communists who never existed; failure in the end to produce even one provable Communist or Soviet agent, despite his myriad charges of subversion.”

–M. Stanton Evans, American Journalist

 

McCarthy was a politician and a Republican U.S Senator in the United States through the late 1940s and 1950s. McCarthy was most famous for the actions he took to oppose the spread of communism in the U.S during what was called a “Red Scare” during the peak Cold War era. McCarthy alleged that there were numerous communist spies and sympathizers who had penetrated throughout the government, universities, entertainment industries etc.

It was during this time that the term “McCarthyism” was coined in 1950. It was the act of accusing citizens of being communist sympathizers and charging them for treason without any substantial evidence against them. The movement grew in the US because the red scare had enveloped the entire country at the time and people felt that there was a very legitimate threat to the country, even if it was not entirely true. There was a lot of political repression under McCarthyism because very arbitrary rules were being applied. During this era, hundreds of Americans were accused of being communists and soviet spies and were heavily scrutinized and investigated. A lot of people lost their jobs as a result and many were imprisoned.

Soon after, however, in 1954 a journalist called Edward R. Morrow exposed McCarthy on a news program which caused the public to turn against him. The senate also declared his actions as illegal and overturned many cases which had resulted in the imprisonment of innocent citizens. Most of the accusations that McCarthy had made turned out to be completely baseless.