04/3/11

I Pledge Allegiance to Anti-Communism

In the midst of the Cold War, many programs were enacted to ensure American patriotism. The House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) was established to conduct hearings  about the presence of communism in Hollywood motion pictures. In these hearings, actors, directors, and screenwriters were summoned for questioning by the committee. Of the witnesses, 10, known as the Hollywood Ten, declined to answer questions concerning their political allegiances or disclose names of those who were communist. The Hollywood Ten believed their 1st Amendment rights were infringed. As a result, the committee charged them with contempt of Congress and were sentenced to 6 months to a year in prison. Besides the Hollywood Ten, more than 200 other people were also charged with communist sympathies or the refusal to name names.

Had the HUAC never been formed during the Cold War, history might have run a different course. The aim of the HUAC was to contain and control the spread of communism beliefs and values in the movie industry. In reality, the HUAC did not find substantial evidence of individuals who hold communist sympathies. However, if the HUAC was not there to screen the individuals, those who were communist could have used the opporutnity to promote communist ideas. If those individual succeed, communism could have seeped into the minds of ordinary Americans.

03/6/11

Kiss the Flag!

I think the words in the image are a pretty adequate caption, but take a minute to think about what the flag means to us today - because according to what's written in chapter 19, its not even close to what it came to represent during WWI.

In chapter 19 there is section entitled “Coercive Patriotism”, wherein Foner briefly describes the extent to which the Patriotism of World War I era¬†America was sometimes nothing more than a forced loyalty.

The American flag became more than just the sign of a nation, it became a symbol of commitment to democracy and a test of a person’s true patriotism. He even goes so far as to say that “Persons suspected f disloyalty were forced to kiss the flag in public; those who made statements critical of the flag could be imprisoned.”

Apparently, freedom of speech didn’t really apply to those speaking of anything other than freedom.

While Foner’s coverage of the topic does seem sufficient as compared to that of some other points (like the era’s rapid advancement of war technology), I feel that, especially when considering the book’s title ‘Give Me Liberty’, it would have made sense to go in depth to describe the extent to which the American People’s freedom seemed to be rather non existent. Maybe its just a modern ideal, but since when is forcing anything on the people of our nation really the American way…?

-C. Salama