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McCarthyism in the United States of America.



During the second world war, the alliance formed between the united states, the democracies of europe and the ussr works as long as the common enemies are not defeated. After the 1945 armistice, the United States and the USSR faced each other with two completely different visions of the world and of society:

- the communist society wanted by the Soviets;

- the capitalist society designed by the Americans.

But these two visions are incompatible. Everyone wants to impose their vision of society on the world. It is the beginning of the cold war. Its aim is to rally many countries to their causes.

After World War II, Americans became fearful of the spread of the soviet Communism. This fear was fed by the news media and politicians who portrayed the Soviets as bent on world domination. Americans were afraid that the Soviets would take over the U.S and take away their freedoms. American leaders believed that the societs were determined to impose their beliefs and control on the rest of the world.





Joseph Raymond McCarthy :

He was an American politician, Republican Senator from Wisconsin (1947), he led a virulent anti-communist campaign in 1949-1950 (McCartism). Chairman of the Senate Investigations Commission, he accused the press, the universities, Hollywood and soon the entire federal administration of being Communists. In 1954, McCarthy was disavowed by the Senate.

Definition :

A Bipolar World :

An inquisition :

McCarthyism has its origin in a fear present among the population : that of Communism and of the state that represents this ideology, the USSR.

McCarthy's "witch hunt" was organized around the House Un-American Activities Committe. this body summoned and interrogated anyone accused of being a "communist traitor".

McCarthyism is a period of American history, also known as the "Red Scare" and frequently referred to as a "witch hunt". McCarthyism finds its origins after World War II. The United States and the Soviet Union became involved in an ideological struggle known as the cold war. The phenomenon, called McCarthyism, extends from 1950, with the appearance of Senator Joseph McCarthy on the front of the American political scene, to 1954, with the vote of no confidence against McCarthy. For two years (1953-1954), the commission chaired by McCarthy tracked down possible agents, militants or communist sympathizers in the United States. Several million Americans are subject to judicial and police investigations. All actors, screenwriters, directors, musicians, and American entertainment professionals have been banned from working by studios. Their arreste was based on their alleged affiliation or sympathy with the Communist Party USA, and also their refusal to participate in congressional investigations into party activities. During this time the blacklist could not be verified as it was the result of many individual studio decisions.

The Hollywood Ten :

Many injustices :

The use of propaganda :

The Hollywood Ten :

The Hollywood blacklist was a broader entertainment industry blacklist set up in the

twentieth century in the United States. in no way was it the result of formal legal action. Many people have had to give up their careers and income in the film industry. In addition there were the Republicans and the Democrats who knew that the anti-Communist purges existed but who dared not oppose for fear of ruining their careers. National security as well as rights were then in danger. But this threat was minimal compared to the consequences received.

Many artists, intellectuals and political figures were prosecuted by McCarthy. This was the case of Herbert J. Biberman who was persecuted after being accused of being communist.


Born on March 4, one thousand nine hundred in Philadelphia, Herbert J. Biberman, a committed director and screenwriter, suffered the full brunt of the effects of McCarthyism. A member of the American Communist Party, Herbert J. Biberman is known as one of the Hollywood Ten filmmakers who were blacklisted by the Un-American Activities Committee. His best-known work is The Salt ofthe Earth. In 1947, in the midst of McCarthyism, Herbert J. Biberman was summoned before the

HUAC (the anti-American). He refuses to answer accusations of belonging to the Communist Party. Advised by lawyers close to the same party, the Hollywood Ten oppose a common front against the HUAC and hide in their silence. Herbert J. Biberman was then sentenced, in 1950, to six months imprisonment and to pay a fine. He is on the blacklist. Unable to work normally in Hollywood, Herbert J. Biberman and other colleagues in the same situation decide to found their

own production company, Independent Productions Corporation (IPC), with the project of mounting the movie Salt of the Earth. Even before filming begins, everything is done for their project to fail withdrawal of the teams of technicians supported by their unions, expulsion of the main Mexican actress and fierce opposition from the Californian senator to the distribution of the film in American

cinemas. In 1954, The Salt of the Earth finally saw the light of day. Under threat from film distribution companies, however, cinemas refuse to screen it. The film was nevertheless released in Europe, where it won the Crystal Globe, as well as the Grand Prix of the Academy Cinéma of Paris. Herbert J. Biberman has never been officially removed from the HUAC blacklist.

McCarthyism was backed by anti-communist propaganda. And even children were not exempt from it.

Historical context : 70 years ago, as the conflict between the United States and the USSR escalated, a veritable Witch Hunt began, spawned by American senators. The "witches" in question do not fly on broomsticks, but are accused of wanting to deprive Americans of their freedom: the term actually refers to communist spies hidden in the population.

The expression chosen to designate the hunt for Communists refers to an episode in American history, the Salem witch trials. This is a series of trials between 1692 and 1693 in several villages in Massachusetts near the town of Salem, which resulted in the arrest of about a hundred people accused of witchcraft and the execution of about twenty between them.

The Lavender Scare :

At the start of the Cold War, homosexuality was still considered a psychiatric illness in the United States, and sodomy was punishable by prison in many states across the country. In order to get rid of these "potential targets", the government is therefore organizing a "Witch Hunt" which aims to flush out and dismiss homosexuals who work in the public service. In 1950, 91 homosexuals and lesbians were expelled.

A wave of persecution of homosexuals then broke out in the United States called "The Lavender Scare" during the 1950s. The purple fear is linked to the red fear that developed during the era of McCarthyism.

Senator Joseph McCarthy then continued his work by appointing Roy Cohn, a homosexual who does not show it to the public, to head the committee in charge of combating the "violet menace". During their campaign, the two men did not hesitate to blackmail their opponents by threatening to denounce them as homosexuals.

Being considered inhumane, Senator Margaret Chase Smith asks the state if there is a “test, quick, like an X-ray, that can reveal these things”. Years later, this community still suffers a lot of criticism. on some continents such as Asia and Africa they are still considered witches.

The Lavender Scare is the first documentary film to tell the little-known story of a relentless federal government campaign to identify and fire all employees suspected of being gay.

The Lavender Scare :

Historian David K. Johnson here tells the chilling and untold story of how, during the Cold War, homosexuals were seen as as dangerous a threat to national security as communists. Accusations that the Roosevelt and Truman administrations were havens for gay people proved a potent political weapon, sparking a “lavender scare.”

The Book :

The Movie :