In it’s short history, America has had some dark times as we navigate not only our constitution but the changing times. i.e. our horrible native American policies, the Civil War, Slavery, Civil Rights, Gay rights, and the continuing battle to separate Church and State.
There was one period of disease that was so far reaching and so blatantly against what forefathers stood for that just peeking into that era makes me cringe with embarrassment for being an American.
When else have we persecuted people for their own thoughts and beliefs? When have we gone after a multitude of people for something that should be covered under one of the basic tenets of this great country, Free Speech? When have we hounded everyday citizens, pressuring them to turn in the fellow neighbors, friends, family, teachers, union members? The United States became like sinking ship and it was every rat for themselves.
One can say that we have some of that now with the fight against terrorism, but this was different. The U.S congress was tiptoeing along the yellow brick road to fascism. It wasn’t just the Hollywood Ten that classic film buffs, like me, may know about.
Now McCarthy didn’t start it. The House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) became a standing (permanent) committee in 1945, but had it’s roots as far back as the Overman committee in 1918, headed by Senator Lee Slater Overman right through the Dies Committee chaired by Martin Dies Jr from 1938-1944.
Strangely, when many of think of HUAC, we think of the bombastic Senator Joseph R. McCarthy and that isn’t the case. Since he wasn’t in the House, had had his own committees in the Senate. We also tend to think that the Hollywood Ten were the only ones blacklisted, but Red Apple makes it painstaking clear, just by looking at six New Yorker’s lives and how they were changed, no ruined, by the Cold War and McCarthyism.
As far as the book itself, there were points that were a bit plodding and it was tough to keep track of all of the acronyms of clubs and government divisions, whether pro-communist, peace-based, anti-communist, etc. However, it was a revelation to me, made me so angry that the first three paragraphs of this review were written at 1 AM in long hand in the little notebook by my bed. It made me so irate that I just had to get some thoughts down right then.
Did you know that McCarthy actually made it into the dictionary. (thanks Dictionary.com)
the practice of making accusations of disloyalty, especially of pro-Communist activity, in manyinstances unsupported by proof or based on slight, doubtful, or irrelevant evidence.
the practice of making unfair allegations or using unfair investigative techniques, especially in order to restrict dissent or political criticism.
by Phillip Deery
- Hardcover: 240 pages
- Publisher: Fordham University Press (January 1, 2014)
- ISBN-10: 0823253686
- ISBN-13: 978-0823253685
P.S. Thanks to the publisher for my copy, I think being so irate about things that I couldn’t change was great for my low bloodpressure.