Aug. 27 – Red Scare dominates American politics

GabeBell Ringers, Government(BR)

On Aug. 27, 1952, The New York Times published three stories about the impact of the “Red Scare” on the upcoming revolution, and anti-communism became a dominant theme in the election.

Following the Bolshevik Revolution and the rise of communism in Russia, a small number of Americans began to preach the sentiments of socialism, anarchy, and communism. These ideas were seen as a threat to American democracy, and thousands were prosecuted for their support of the communist movement.

While some did support communism, the Red Scare led to frequent accusations of innocent people. Led by Senator Joseph McCarthy (R-WI), the Red Scare movement led to the imprisonment of the innocent alongside the guilty, and a severe reduction in civil liberties like the freedom of speech, and false accusations for everyone.

During WWI, advocating for communism and strikes were seen as disrupting the war effort, and crimes were enforced under the Espionage Act of 1917. Despite the fears, communist and unionist agitation within most factories were successfully suppressed, as business owners and the police shut down strikes and jailed dissidents. And there were some real spies, such as Rudolf Abel, a Soviet spy convicted, but later traded for U2 pilot Gary Powers.

  1. What is the importance of due process? Was due process followed during the Red Scare?
  2. Did followers of communism actually pose a threat to American democracy? Was the government justified in jailing people based on their ideology?
  3. Should civil liberties be reduced during time of war? Why or why not?

Image Citation:

23, Aug. 2018, Picture from Red Scare Game by Knowledge Neighborhood [Digital image].  Retrieved from <>.