“McCarthyism” originates from March 29, 1950
political cartoon by Washington Post editorial cartoonist Herbert Block.
The cartoon depicted four leading Republicans trying to push an elephant
(the traditional symbol of the Republican party) to stand on a teetering stack of ten tar buckets,
the topmost of which was labeled "McCarthyism". The reluctant elephant was quoted in the caption
as saying "You mean I'm supposed to stand on that?".
(Outline from American Inquisition: The Era of McCarthyism, Tape 9: Joe McCarthy and the Loss of China. Ellen Schrecker)
When we consider how McCarthyism spread throughout American society, we must look beyond the individuals and groups that were actively pushing the anticommunist crusade to those that might have been able to prevent or mitigate it, but did not. In this lecture we will examine the—mainly liberal—institutions whose failure to resist McCarthyism contributed to its success.
1. Who opposed McCarthyism?
2. Why did so many liberals fail to mount a vigorous defense of individual rights?
I. Why wasn’t there stronger opposition to McCarthyism?
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