"McCarthyism is the practice of making accusations of disloyalty, subversion, or treason without proper regard for evidence."
A large number of Americans were blamed for being communists or communist sympathizers. They became the subject of intense investigations and questioning before government or private-industry panels, committees and agencies. The focal points of the accusations were government employees, those in the entertainment industry, educators and union activists.
Did McCarthy Bend The Truth?
McCarthy lied during his campaigns for district attorney. He published literature that wrongly said that Edgar Werner, his opponent was 73. In reality Edgar was only 66. McCarthy also claimed that Werner was senile. He also said that Werner was financially corrupt.
McCarthy joined the U.S. Marines. McCarthy later ran against Robert La Follette, for senate after the war had ended. His campaign posters for this election depicted him in "full fighting gear, with an aviator's cap, and belt upon belt of machine gun ammunition wrapped around his bulky torso." He uttered that he had accomplished thirty-two missions when in actuality he had a desk job and only flew in training exercises.
McCarthy was investigated by a Senate panel in 1952. That Senate panel issued the "Hennings Report." This revealed immoral behavior in McCarthy’s campaigns and tax returns. But, unfortunately there was no basis for legal action.
Why Not Defy The Accusations?
The Salem Witch trials were almost exactly the same as McCarthyism. During the Salem Witch trials, innocent women would be accused of witchcraft without any basis for the accusation except for the "victims" words. In the same way, McCarthyism would accuse people of being communist or being associated with communists. In both situations, the people being accused would automatically be punished.
Most of the people being accused were people who did not have a lot of power within the court or people of minority groups. So, in many cases, these people would not speak out against the accusations because in the end they knew that they would probably lose the debate. A lot of times, no matter what the evidence was (either reliable or made up), the victims of the accusations would generally get punished for a crime they did not commit. These people also seemed afraid of speaking out because they did not want themselves to be harmed or others to have the same misfortune as they did.