The Russians are Coming: McCarthyism and Red Peril in the 21st Century

Did you ever see the 1950s’ film “I married a communist?” Few have nowadays, it was a small pulp film released in 1949 and it personified the terror that would soon pervade the idyllic era of American excess after the carnage of WWII. It was a film that was about the fear that washed over America, like a toxic red tide, the so-called “Red Peril.” This was when people had an irrational fear of communism,
in particular, Russia. Now to be clear, the fear itself was founded, as Russia was saber-rattling and flexing its international muscle. Where it became irrational was in the mistrust that soon became commonplace. People began to see communist agents and sympathizers around every corner, was your boss or girlfriend a commie? Could your friends or even politicians be working for the Kremlin?

What followed was a terrible time of what became known as “Blacklisting” when Hollywood screenwriters and directors were subjected to be fired or worse because it was suspected they had “Red” sympathies; one of the most famous cases being Dalton Trumbo, the writer of the classic film “Spartacus.” When star Kirk Douglass chose to put Trumbo’s name in the credits even though he had been blacklisted and was being denied work; it was a great taboo and caused great controversy.

These blacklists and much of the fear in the 50s’ came about due to U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy.
McCarthy opened up governmental hearings into communist activity in the U.S. government. On February

“The State Department is infested with communists. I have here in my hand a list of 205 (some say he said 57) a list of names that were made known to the Secretary of State as being members of the
Communist Party and who nevertheless are still working and shaping policy in the State Department.” McCarthy was able to amass a huge amount of political power and used this power to drag people before his investigation hearings. He is credited with the destruction of many a life, career and reputation.

Ever since the 2016 election, I have been experiencing a strange sense of déjà vu. I can’t go a day without seeing reports by the media, posts on Twitter and Facebook and statements made by politicians about Russian meddling in our government and how our President may even be a Russian agent!  Russia was a longtime foe of the United States, and we were near war many a time, however in the late 80s’ and 90s’ this all faded and relations improved a lot. Now it seems we have entered another era of “Red Peril” the left and the Democratic party seem to be seeing Russians around every Middlesex village and farm (I am sorry I could not resist). We have articles, videos and news reports seriously telling us all how to spot Russia troll accounts on social media (help, my Facebook friend may be a Red!).

The mysterious thing is there is mass hysteria in the media and nation at large over Russia’s seeming
invasion of our nation, yet no one knows why. I asked a college-age progressive at one point “What is so bad about Russia?” He honestly had no answer for me, he had been trained to repeat the “Red Peril” the media is selling, yet he himself knew nothing about why Russia was so bad. Now, I am not here to defend Russia, but thanks to the progressive media and politicians our nation have regressed back to the McCarthyism of the 50s’. Even the McCarthyism hearings were being reenacted with Robert Mueller and
his investigation into “Russian Meddling” which saw dozens of individuals dragged before him to be questioned; individuals who have been then sullied by the media as “Russian sympathizers.”

I even saw the website post a sprawling article heavy on opinion and light on facts, that claimed Russia had hijacked the Christian Homeschool movement and the movement was now the latest “Front” in Russia’s attack on America. The article posits that “The Kremlin has a new avenue of influence over American policy now” all the while providing little to no facts to back any of this up. Lastly, “Red Peril” has gone so far as to accuse our sitting President of being a Russian agent, never mind the fact Trump has been tough on Russia and placed some of the heaviest sanctions ever on them. This does not matter as it does not fit the narrative.

So the question you may be asking is why? Why bring back “Red Peril,” why drag us back to an era of fear. Well, the reason is the same now as then, control. Granted McCarthy’s control was for different reasons than the left has now. However, the reasoning is the same, use outlandish rumors and stories that can never be proven too muddy up your opponent. Make them deny being a Russian plant. In one of my political science classes, my professor told a story about President Johnson (LBJ) who had a political opponent. He told his campaign to accuse the man (a farmer) of having sexual relations with his barnyard animals. When his staffers balked and said they knew this was false, LBJ said, “Make him address and deny it.

The left is running a similar campaign with the Russia rumors, by finding a Russian around every
corner, they can accuse whomever they wish and whatever publication they want of collusion, force them to deny it, and cause doubt. When people and publications are so busy defending themselves it’s hard to get back to addressing the issues of the day. So I say, don’t fall for this 50s’ era propaganda which seeks to divide and cause fear and distrust among us, let us leave the films like “I married a communist” and the fears of “Red Peril” in the past where it belongs.

Byron Lafayette is a journalist and author. He writes for Fansided and currently serves as Editor in Chief for Viralhare.comFollow him on Facebook and Twitter 

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