(Communists were thought to be everywhere, even comic books)
When we think about paranoia, conspiracy theories and black helicopters today, we think this is a relatively new phenomenon.
Sad to say, no. During the 1950s we were knee-deep in the Red Scare, the all-pervasive paranoia, the trigger-happy finger on the doomsday scenario.
It's no small wonder anti-depressants became popular around this time. It's also no small wonder people drank themselves into comas on an almost daily basis. You would too if you had to endure that much rampant distrust of your fellow human being - convinced every other person was hiding secret marching orders from The Kremlin.
And so in 1955, one of the hot topics of discussion on mainstream media was just how much freedom Americans were losing, and were we in danger of losing it completely? Was the U.S. Government overrun with Communist subversives, poised to take over at the appointed time?
Then as now, a lot of the hysteria was media manufactured, pumped up by fringe element alarmists bent on scaring the crap out of people. Sending them, terror-stricken for comforting answers.
And as Senator Hubert Humphrey pointed out during the interview:
Sen. Hubert Humphrey: “ I think there are a number of people who would like to have the American people believe that the government is infiltrated by disloyal people and subversives and security risks and that isn’t a fact either. The Government employees are, as a group far above the average employee in the country. They’ve been screened, re-screened and double screened as to their security and as to their loyalty. I do feel however, that there’s been far too much demagoguery about the so-called security risks, the so-called numbers game. Many people have been dismissed from employment that were not disloyal at all. But just were unsuitable employees and then they’ve been tabulated as security risks. I think the sooner we get down to taking a look at our loyalty security program as citizens rather than as partisans, as members of Congress rather than as Republicans or Democrats, the better we’re going to be off and the better the country’s going to be off. We need security and freedom and we can have both.”
Despite the claims and facts to the contrary, the witch hunt kept right on pointing fingers and accusing. And the alarmists kept right on sowing hysteria.
Not much has changed in retrospect. Only the enemy.