The United States has a long history of prejudice and fear, from the Monroe Doctrine to the Bush Doctrine, the United States Government and its law
makers in congress have set policies and procedures to pacify dissidents within this country and now world wide.
Long before McCarthyism, “The Alien and Sedition Acts, four laws passed in 1798. The Naturalization Act, raising 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United States residency required for naturalization, this was repealed in 1802.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, this Act 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.” (1)
Slavery, Contrary to what is commonly believed, slaves did have some legal rights, such as support in old age or sickness, a right to limited
religious instruction, and the right to bring suit and give evidence in special cases. “Custom gave numerous rights also, such as private property,
marriage, free time, and to females, domestic or lighter plantation labor, which the master was not bound to respect. Brutal treatment such as
mutilation, branding, chaining, rape and murder were regulated or prohibited by law, but instances of cruelty were very common.” (2)
The treatment of the Native Americans by white settlers is a good example of the prejudice of the people of this country, the white settlers
technological superiority over the natives gave the whites the idea that they could, push them out of the way either by putting them on reservations
or killing them if they could not fit into white society, usually in the lowest most menial positions. “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,” (3) who under the law
were able to buy the best pieces of reservation land mostly at unfairly low prices. This policy did not really last very long as most Native Americans
did not participate.
“During World War I, Congress passed the Espionage Act of 1917 and the Sedition Act of 1918. These 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 U. S. 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, pacifist, labor organizer, and five time Socialist candidate for U.S. president, Eugene V. Debs, who was
imprisoned for ten years. His sentence was commuted in 1921. While in prison in 1920 he ran for president on the Socialist ticket and received almost
1 million votes; and Emma Goldman, leader of the anarchist movement,” (2) who was jailed for two years and deported to Russia. At first an avid
admirer of the Soviet government, she later voiced passionate criticisms of its policies and was expelled from that country also.
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.” (1) 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.
During World War II, Discriminatory laws prevented the Issei, first generation Japanese immigrants, from becoming naturalized citizens of the United
States. “In 1907 and 1908 Japan and the United States negotiated the so-called Gentlemen’s Agreement in which Japan agreed to stop issuing
passports to laborers wishing to immigrate to the United States. However, a large number of Japanese women came to the United States as mail order
brides.” The Immigration Act of 1924 totally barred emigration from Japan.” (2)
On February 19, 1942, after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on December 7, 1941 “President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066,
which allowed military leaders to exclude anyone they felt necessary from military areas.” (4) This order served as the basis for the removal of
approximately 120,000 ethnic Japanese, two-thirds of them American citizens, from the Pacific Coast. “In the spring of 1942 the U.S. Army forcibly
moved the Japanese American populations of California, western Oregon, western Washington, and southern Arizona to 16 temporary detention compounds,
typically fairgrounds and racetracks. In the summer of 1942, the internees were transferred to 10 permanent concentration camps, euphemistically
called “relocation centers.” These camps were generally located on uninhabitable federal lands in the nation’s interior, such as deserts or
swamps. At the height of the incarceration, each camp held from 8,000 to 20,000 internees. The housing consisted of hastily constructed military-style
barracks. The U.S. government justified the mass incarceration as a “military necessity.” Arguing that it could not distinguish loyal Japanese
Americans from disloyal ones, the federal government approved the removal of anyone with at least one-sixteenth Japanese blood from the Pacific Coast.
Ironically, there were no mass removals of Japanese Americans in the U.S. territory of Hawaii, which had been the direct target of attack by the
Japanese and which had a much higher percentage of Japanese residents than the Pacific Coast.”(2) It wasn’t considered cost effective to relocate
so many people to the mainland.
“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.” (3) “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.” (2) “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.” (3) 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.” (3)
The 4-5 years of McCarthyism lasted from Feb. 9, 1950 until December 2, 1954
“In September 1950, motivated 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 the ban on Asian immigration, it required
elaborate security checks for foreigners visiting the United States.” (2) 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, civil servants, and
entertainers lost jobs; and unjustifiable 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.” (2) Essentially this department was resurrected in 2001 as the Office of Homeland
“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 (DOD) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), in
order to prevent and respond to future terrorist attacks on U.S. territory. As a result Congress passed a law that expanded the federal government’s
power to investigate and prosecute suspected terrorists.” (1) (“The USA Patriot Act, Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate
Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act”) (2) 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 these detentions. This legislation significantly 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 Bush Doctrine, “In an address to Congress on September 20, 2001 George W. Bush said the United States would not only target the terrorist
organizations themselves, but also those governments that support them. “Every nation in every region now has a decision to make,” Bush said.
“Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists. From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be
regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.” (2)
In October 2001 several letters containing anthrax spores were mailed to the offices of major media figures and politicians, and five people died of
inhalation of anthrax after being exposed to the spores. The rash of anthrax cases sparked fears that terrorists were carrying out a biological
attack. No link between terrorists and the anthrax mailings was found, but the fear encouraged efforts by public health organizations to prepare for
such a disaster.
“The Aviation and Transportation Security Act, signed into law in November 2001. As of January 18, 2002, all checked luggage had to be either
screened by explosive detection machines or bomb-sniffing dogs, searched by hand, or at a minimum, only loaded onto a plane if the passenger who
checked the bag was confirmed to be on board. In airports across the country, armed National Guard troops were stationed at security checkpoints.
Armed federal marshals flew on many flights, especially those considered to be at a higher risk of hijacking.” (2)
“In 2002 President Bush created a new Cabinet-level department, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The mission of the DHS was to prevent
terrorist attacks in the United States, reduce the country’s vulnerability to terrorism, and plan responses and recovery in case of an attack. Bush
chose Tom Ridge, previously head of the Office of Homeland Security, to be secretary of the new department. The DHS combined dozens of federal
agencies, representing the largest reorganization in the federal government since the present-day Department of Defense was created in 1947.” (2)
In this country the American flag can be burned and flown upside down (A traditional sign of Distress) below a Mexican flag (Illegal) on the grounds
of a California School in the name of free expression. Illegal Immigrants can protest a change in the immigration laws, receive free medical service,
and welfare support, and cross the border to have a baby in the U. S. thus becoming a citizen and stretching our citizen “emergency support
system” to the breaking point, (FIA, WIC. Etc.) with no protest from the State or Federal Governments. But when an implied threat or actual attack
occurs and the government “overreacts” by passing laws to limit the possibility of a repeat attack thus restricting our “rights” and civil
liberties, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), files law suits and usually wins. The excesses of the past are reflected in the excesses of the
present and the pendulum swings back and forth from liberalism to conservatism. I have no problem with legal immigrants as this country was built by
immigrants, but some illegal immigrants are here to do harm, intentionally or not, and this country needs to close its boarders to illegal trespass.
This does not mean that I agree with the past and present policies on immigration but rather that the current policy (Official and otherwise) needs to
be closely inspected and changed if need be.
1. The Age of Anxiety McCarthyism to Terrorism. By Haynes Johnson. Harcourt Books, 2005.
2. © 1993-2003 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved
3. © 2004 The Unfinished Nation, Alan Brinkley
4. © 2005 Annual Editions, American History, Volume 2