What is a Red Scare?

What is a Red Scare?

A Red Scare happens when the fear of radical leftism or communism is promoted, often in the media. This form of hysteria has been most prevalent between the 1940's and 1960's, when the Cold War between the U.S. and the Soviet Union was at its height. Immigrants were treated with a lot of distrust and federal employees were often analyzed to see how loyal they were. Luckily this atmosphere of fear subsided around the 1960s, but there are still people today who see a threat in communism.

First Red Scare

The first Red Scare in the U.S. happened just after the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution and during WW1, when people were very patriotic and social agitation of left-wingers further aggravated the political, national and social tensions. A belief lived among the Americans that a Bolshevik worker revolution in the U.S. was imminent.

Second Red Scare

After World War II, the second Red Scare happened due to a fear of communist espionage. In the midst of the Berlin Blockade, a Soviet Eastern Europe and both the Korean and Chinese Civil War, people were very afraid of the threat of communism. The fact that a couple of American government officials, some with high ranks, confessed that they used to spy for the Soviet Union, did not help either.

This article is part of our larger collection of resources on the Cold War. For a comprehensive outline of the origins, key events, and conclusion of the Cold War, click here.