The New Definition of the Red Scare

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In America, in the late 1940s and 1950s, the country was engulfed in the hysteria of the Red Scare, the fear of communism. The enemy was the Soviet Union, under the control of the dictator Joseph Stalin and his Communist Party, symbolized by the red star. The Red Scare gained popularity when Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy alleged that there were hundreds of communists living in the United States, plotting to overturn our democracy. He theorized that communists had infiltrated the U.S government and were prominent in the Hollywood community. You can learn more about Sen. McCarthy and his activities from the United States Senate site here.

Growing up I can remember being warned that communists could be lurking around every corner of our society. Anyone who was in the least bit different from the average American citizen (white, Ango-Saxon Protestant) was a communist. Popular Hollywood actors and entertainers were accused of being communists and most people who espoused policies that would today be called liberal or progressive were either called communists or socialists. The Republican Party called FDR a socialist for implementing Social Security, which benefits all Americans today and is a prime target for destruction among most Republican politicians today. FDR’s policy of helping the poor and working class has always come under fire from Republicans, as being socialist policies. They attempt to stoke fear among Americans that we will become a socialist country. They and most Americans are truly ignorant of what socialism is. That’s a lesson for another blog post, however.

In my youth and my college years, people were leery of the “Red” Chinese, Russia, and “the Reds”. They were communists and our sworn enemies. When Cuba was overtaken by Fidel Castro and became a communist country 90 miles from Florida, the Red Scare became very real. I can remember being in grammar school and hiding under our desks in practice for a possible Russian nuclear attack. I can still remember how close we came to war when JFK stared down Nikita Khrushchev and demanded Russian missiles be removed from Cuba.

The Red scare was in response to the fear of an overturn of our government from a foreign power, beyond our shores. Today our democracy is threatened again by the color red. This time red star is not associated with communism, but with the Republican Party. It’s not the Red Star we must fear, but the Red MAGA hat!

On January 6th, 2021 Trump red-hatted supporters incited by Donald Trump attacked the US Capitol in an attempt to overturn the presidential election and our democracy. The attack almost succeeded. But Trump and allies are still spreading his big lie, that the election was stolen. Trump Republicans have succeeded in nominating extremist candidates, who if elected will succeed in finishing what Trump started on January 6th. These candidates support the big lie and have vowed revenge on anyone who did not fully support Trump. The Republicans have promised, if they take control of Congress, to propose a national ban on abortion, sunset Social Security, end Medicare, abolish same-sex marriage and LGBTQ rights, and end the separation of church and state.

Amazingly these far-right extremists, some of whom are convicted felons and participants in the January 6th insurrection, stand a good chance of winning in November. In Red states, they are almost assured of winning. Despite numerous investigations into Trump’s plethora of alleged crimes, including stealing top-secret national defense documents, he is the front runner for the GOP nomination for 2024. People’s fealty to a wannabe dictator is stronger than the desire to preserve our democracy. Yes, people are that stupid. You may want to read a previous post on the danger of losing our democracy here.

Former Trump administration and Republican members of Congress are attacking the same judicial system they are using to deflect and delay criminal proceedings against them. They are destroying our rule of law and our Constitution in an attempt to install an authoritarian form of government that would assure that a white Christo-fascist America will replace our democracy. When I was younger it was common to hear the phrase “better dead than Red”. If Republicans regain power that phrase may be reworded to say “be Red or be dead”.

Astonishingly many people I talk with are entirely unaware of the dangers our democracy is facing. I hear comments such as ” I don’t watch the news”, “it’s all politics”, “Trump is being treated unfairly”, or this one I have written about before. There is a good chance that if Republicans are victorious in the midterms and the 2024 election these same people will wake up to a reality of a dictatorial fascist government and wonder how it happened.