Eroding Democracy in a Time of Crisis
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Anti-Bolshevism translated domestically into political repression against the so-called Reds. The “Red Scare” that unfolded from 1917 into the 1920s had the ripple effect of suppressing many forms of political expression. A social climate of fear manufactured by those in power exaggerated political expression as threatening the status quo. Dissent was regarded as threatening the growth of state power. The U.S. government created a state of emergency to justify its actions. The Red Scare of this period led to the creation of the first state bureaucracy, driven by the need to recreate the ideology of a permanent threat to state interests. Although the Reds were the main targets, methods used against them were eventually employed against other political organizations. After the Haymarket Affair, federal and state laws were passed, making people’s opinions and associations grounds for arrest; thought control became legal repression. Anarchists were targeted, especially after McKinley’s assassination. Suspected meeting places were raided, anarchists were rounded up, and publications shut down. These initiatives began at the federal level with Roosevelt’s announcement to Congress of “the waging of war” against anarchists and sympathizers.1 Legal repression was next: in 1903, immigrants who believed in or promoted the idea of overthrowing the U.S. government by force were barred from entering.
KeywordsLocal Police Labor Movement Pearl Harbor Thought Control Political Police
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