“Bitter Days”: The Heyday of Anti-Communism
Even independent of McCarthy, the years 1950–1954 marked the climax of anti-communism in American life. The Korean stalemate generated both a bruising debate over containment and sourness in national politics. Korea's sapping effect and a series of minor scandals heightened the Democratic Party's anemia. In addition, the 1950 congressional campaign, revealing McCarthyism's apparent sway over the voters and encouraging the GOP's right wing, signaled that anti-communism occupied the core of American political culture. Senate resistance to McCarthy was scattered and weak. In the House, HUAC did much as it pleased. Truman upheld civil liberties with occasional eloquence, but he remained on the defensive. Rampant anti-communism narrowed the range of selection open to associations, utterances, and ideas. People were constrained by both external pressures and the inner checks with which they reactively restricted their own affairs.
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