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A brief History Lesson of HUAC

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posted on Mar, 31 2008 @ 10:13 AM
House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC)

The United States has a long history of prejudice and fear, long before McCarthyism. The Alien and Sedition Acts, four laws passed in 1798. The Naturalization Act, rising from 5 to 14 the number of years of United States residency required for naturalization, this was repealed in 1802. The Alien Act, empowering the president to arrest and deport any alien considered dangerous, expired in 1800. The Alien Enemies Act, which expired in 1801, provided for the arrest and deportation of subjects of foreign powers at war with the United States. The Sedition Act made it a criminal offense to print or publish false, malicious, or scandalous statements directed against the U.S. government, the president, or Congress; to foster opposition to the lawful acts of Congress; or to aid a foreign power in plotting against the United States.

In the late 19th century, Congress developed a new policy toward Native Americans. Instead of isolating them on reservations, as had been done in the mid-1800s, the new policy sought to assimilate Native Americans into white culture. Congressional policymakers responded to pressure from two different groups. First, some wanted to suppress Native American culture by converting Native Americans to Christianity and turning them into farmers. Second, land-hungry settlers and speculators wanted the Native Americans removed from desirable land in the reservations. The Dawes Severalty Act, passed by Congress in 1887, addressed both concerns. The law broke up reservations and encouraged private farms. Native American families received individual plots of land, carved from reservations, as well as farm equipment. These families were to give up their communal way of life on the reservations and become independent farmers. But few Native Americans profited from the Dawes Act; the greatest beneficiaries were land speculators, (2) who under the law were able to buy the best pieces of reservation land mostly at unfairly low prices.

Again, During World War I, Congress passed the Espionage Act of 1917 and the Sedition Act of 1918. The laws imposed fines, jail sentences, or both for interfering with the draft, obstructing the sale of war bonds, or saying anything disloyal, profane, or abusive about the government or the war effort. These laws, upheld by the Supreme Court, resulted in 6,000 arrests and 1,500 convictions for antiwar activities. The laws targeted people on the left, such as Socialist leader Eugene V. Debs, who was imprisoned, and Emma Goldman, who was jailed and deported. The arrests of 1917 reflected wartime concerns about dissent as well as opposition toward the Russian Revolution of 1917.

After World War I, during the Great Red Scare, Dissidents were suspected of plotting to overthrow the government. Loyalty oaths were imposed. Over forty Mail Bombs were delivered or found “Just as in the post-9/11 Age of Anxiety, the Great Red Scare was initiated by murderous acts that triggered a national reaction of fear and anger”. These mail-bombs lead to the hiring of J. Edgar Hoover (later the head of the FBI) by A. Mitchell Palmer to head the General Intelligence Division, later renamed the Anti-Radical Division.

[edit on 31-3-2008 by RedmoonMWC]

posted on Mar, 31 2008 @ 10:17 AM
“The 1938 congressional resolution creating the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) authorized the committee to investigate the extent, the character, and the objects of un-American propaganda within the United States.” Created on a temporary basis in 1938 to monitor the activities of foreign agents, it was made a standing committee of the House in 1945. In 1947, under the chairmanship of Democratic representative J. Parnell Thomas of New Jersey, the HUAC held hearings on Communist influence in the film industry, which resulted in the imprisonment of a group of writers, directors, and producers known as the Hollywood Ten on contempt charges for periods ranging from six months to a year. As a result of the HUAC investigations, the entertainment industry blacklisted, or refused to hire, artists and writers suspected of being Communists. Within a few years, hundreds of other people within the film industry were dismissed and blacklisted. Like the Hollywood Ten, many of these people refused to cooperate with HUAC and similar investigating committees. They would not talk about their own Communist connections if any, or give the names of other people connected to Communism. Although many of these people were or had once been members of the American Communist Party, usually during the 1930s and 1940s, they had never done anything illegal. However, during the early years of the Cold War, the political and economic struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union, Communism had become so feared that anyone who was suspected of sympathizing with it could lose his or her job.

In 1948-49, future president Richard M. Nixon became known for his role in the committee's investigation of the suspected Soviet spy Alger Hiss.
The 4-5 years of McCarthyism lasted from Feb. 9, 1950 until December 2, 1954
In September 1950, goaded by McCarthy, Congress passed, over Truman’s veto, the McCarran Internal Security Act, which established a Subversive Activities Control Board to monitor Communist influence in the United States. A second McCarran act, the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, also became law over Truman’s veto. It kept the quota system based on national origin, although it ended a ban on Asian immigration, and required elaborate security checks for foreigners visiting the United States. McCarthy’s influence continued until the Army-McCarthy hearings of 1954, when the Senate investigated McCarthy’s enquiry into the army. The Senate censured him on December 2, 1954, for abusing his colleagues, and his career collapsed ending the 5 years of McCarthyism. But fears of subversion continued. Communities banned books; teachers, academics, civil servants, and entertainers lost jobs; and unwarranted attacks ruined lives. The HUAC became less active in the 1960s; its name was changed to the Committee on Internal Security in 1969, and it was abolished in 1975.Essentially this department was resurrected in 2001 as the Office of Homeland Security.
In a speech before a joint session of Congress nine days after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon by international terrorists on September 11, 2001, U.S. president George W. Bush said he was creating a new White House office, the Office of Homeland Security. The new office was to coordinate the work of more than 40 federal agencies, including the Department of Defense and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), in order to prevent and respond to future terrorist attacks on U.S. territory. Subsequently Congress passed a law that expanded the federal government’s power to investigate and prosecute suspected terrorists. (The USA Patriot Act, Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act) Among other provisions, the law allowed the government to detain noncitizens suspected of terrorism for months or longer without filing charges and to hold court hearings about them in secrecy. Civil liberties groups have filed lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of such detentions. This legislation considerably expanded the federal government’s surveillance powers. Federal agents were given greater authority to wiretap telephones, to monitor e-mail and Internet use, and to secretly search a suspect’s home or office.
The Age of Anxiety McCarthyism to Terrorism. By Haynes Johnson. Harcourt Books, 2005.

© 1993-2003 Microsoft Encarta. All rights reserved

© 2004 The Unfinished Nation, Alan Brinkley

posted on Apr, 2 2008 @ 08:58 PM
In January of 2008, Congress released a five (5) volume set of Hearings that Senator McCarthy held in Executive Session in the years of 1953-1954. I downloaded all five volumes to my HardDrive and have begun to go through them. It will take me quite a while because there are nearly 5,000 pages of testimony.

posted on Apr, 2 2008 @ 09:44 PM
Could you post a link?
I would be very interested in reading those also.

posted on Apr, 3 2008 @ 03:35 AM
reply to post by RedmoonMWC
The links to the McCarthy Hearings in Executive Session are as follows:
I hope you find all five volumes interesting. I have.

posted on Apr, 3 2008 @ 01:28 PM
make sure you put down any partisan glasses you might be wearing before you read them.

Once you go through them I think you'll find history has been a little bit unkind to the guy.

posted on Apr, 3 2008 @ 08:37 PM
reply to post by gormly

You're right. History has been very unkind to McCarthy. He was right a lot more than what people gave him credit for. I don't justify all his tactics, but still, he was definitely right the vast majority of the time. The Venona Project has proven some of the charges that he made while in the Senate.
The Venona Project was an Army program at Arlington Hall that decrypted nearly 3000 messages from the Soviet Union to some of it's Embassies and Consulates here in the U.S. and elsewhere, and the responses of these Embassies and Consulates back to Moscow. The National Security Agencies has many of thes messages posted on it's website.

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