Red Scare

Analysis of the Red Scare
"The tumult and the shouting dies, The captains and the kings depart."
-Kipling, The Recessional

Mr. Kipling was wrong. War does not always end with the last cry on the battlefield. World War I certainly did not. After the war formally ended on November 18, 1918, there was an ideological war still going on in the US. An ideological war which prompted mass paranoia and caused, among many other things, what would be known as the Red Scare, which began in 1919 and ended in 1921. Red Scare was the label given to the actions of legislation, the race riots, and the hatred and persecution of "subversives" and conscientious objectors during that period of time. It is this hysteria which would find itself repeated several decades later in history when Senator Joeseph
R. Macarthy accused high government officials and high standing
military officers of being communist. Undoubtedly the most important
topic of an investigation into a historical occurrence is its
inception. What caused the Red Scare?

At the heart of the Red Scare was the conscription law of May
18, 1917, which was put in place during World War I for the armed
forces to be able to conscript more Americans. This law caused many
problems for the conscientious objector to WWI, because for one to
claim that status, one had to be a member of a "well-recognized"
religious organization which forbade their members to participation in
war. did Quaker relief work in Europe. 500 suffered court-martial, and out As a result of such unyeilding legislation, 20,000 conscientious
objectors were inducted into the armed forces. Out of these 20,000,
16,000 changed their minds when they reached military camps, 1300 went
to non-combat units, 1200 gained furloughs to do farm work, and 100

of these, 450 went to prison. However, these numbers are small in
comparison with the 170,000 draft dodgers and 2,810,296 men who were
inducted into the armed forces. Nevertheless, the conscientious
objectors were targeted in the Red Scare after the war. They were
condemned as cowards, pro-German socialists, although that was not
everything. They were also accused of spreading propaganda throughout
the United States. Very few conscientious objectors stood up for
themselves. Roderick Siedenberg, who was a conscientious objector,
wrote that "to steal, rape, or murder" are standard peacetime causes
for imprisonment, but in time of war "too firm a belief in the words
of Christ", and "too ardent a faith in the brotherhood of man" are
more acceptable.

Some organizations such as the National Civil Liberties
Bureau, which would later be renamed the American Civil Liberties
Union, took up the task of standing up for the rights of conscientious
objectors. Before the war, the NCLB-ACLU opposed American involvement,
and afterward defended the rights of the objectors. Later, the ACLU
would gain a reputation for helping people with liberal cases who were
too poor to pay for their own representation in court.

After the real war ended in 1918, the ideological war, which
was gaining speed at home, turned against conscientious objectors and
other radical minorities such as Wobblies, who were members of the
Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), and Socialists as well. These
Wobblies and Socialists were damned as being subversives who were
trying to overthrow the United States government.

Wobblies, in particular, were persecuted against for speaking
out against the capitalist system. Although most of what they said was
only to attract attention to their cause, their rhetoric was taken
seriously by the government and its officials. From the very beginning
of the Red Scare, the Wobblies were the subject of attack by the
government, because they were a symbol of radicalism. The government
put in place legislation, not only against the Wobblies, but also
against Socialists and Communists, due to the fact that the government
did not distinguish one of its enemies from another. One such action
taken by the government prevented Wobblies who were not yet citizens
from naturalization, even if they quit their organization. In 1917,
the US government made a law which gave the Secretary of Labor the
power to arrest or deport any alien "advocating or teaching"
destruction of property or the "overthrow of government by force."
Words such as "advocating" and the vague language used in the law
allowed the government