There appears to have always been a consistent fear of liberalism and socialism within the US, and this is of great importance to foreigners, perhaps especially Chinese, in understanding America.
The US, in contrast to all other countries, has never been able to accept the validity or legitimacy of any form of government very different from its own, and US history for the past 60 years has been colored heavily by this. It is unfortunate that so many Americans either don't know or appear to have forgotten their own history on this matter.
Since the late 1940s and early 1950s. the US was engaged in what we called "The Cold War" - which was an ideological war against communism - and it existed only because of the US's inherent fear of any government system that was different than their own.
McCarthy was an influential US Senator who used his power over the government to instil fear into the both the government and the general population, and to implement one of the most widespread programs of Human Rights violations that have ever existed in any country.
The attitudes and fears that existed during the McCarthy era are pertinent to the US attitude today with China, and to China's concerns in dealing with the US. The McCarthy era, which persisted in some ways until the 1970s, was driven by a genuine and irrational fear of socialism and communism, with disastrous results both inside the US and outside in terms of affecting US foreign policy.
By the time Russia blockaded Berlin, the US was almost hysterical with anti-communism, resulting in witch-hunts, censorship, and widespread human-rights abuses. Countless thousands of people were mercilessly harrassed, and 'dissidents' were jailed merely on suspicion of being communist sympathisers.
Those so charged were usually denied the right to see the evidence against them, and in many cases they were not even told what they were accused of. Almost no attorneys were willing to defend these victims, because often the US courts would jail the lawyer along with his client.
Large lists of books were determined subversive and ordered destroyed. One US worker in five (half of all US households) was required to pass a 'loyalty review' - loyalty to the US. Any suggestion or accusation that a person was 'soft' on communism, made him instantly unemployable. Many people suffered loss of employment, destruction of their careers, and even imprisonment, based on no evidence at all.
Children's TV programs were seconded for the cause, teaching 3-year-old children to 'hate the dreaded communists'. The world has never seen such a flood of government propaganda; this entire era was surely one of the most shameful, even if fear-driven, episodes in any country's recent history.
The FBI under Edgar Hoover widely used illegal undercover operations to harass citizens, and often planted forged documents to create suspicion of targeted individuals. Any liberal reform, such as women's right to vote, or child labor, were labeled as 'Communist Plots' and killed.
By most standard definitions, during this period the US actually became a fascist police state, with citizens watching and policing each other, informing on each other, in fact destroying each other's lives.
It is almost a bad joke when Americans today criticise China for jailing 'dissidents' when not very long ago, their own country was harrassing and jailing totally innocent people, most often with no evidence at all.
Senator McCarthy is gone and the Cold War is over, but that mentality remains in the US to this day, and much of the 'national security' apparatus created to fight communism in that era, still exists.
This unreasonable Right-Wing fear of liberal socialism still drives much of US foreign policy, and the mere mention of the word 'communism' is sufficient to create a persistent, cold-war-type attack on any country. The fact that China is still considered a 'communist' country is all that's required to resurrect those same irrational fears and emotions in the US.
And it isn't only communism. Any mild form of socialism or a liberal government will send the US Right Wing into a frenzy. Referring again to the recent Health Care Debate, one of the most damaging and damning criticms of the proposals was that they were 'socialist' and that the US would be turned into a 'hotbed of socialism'.
Canada is often despised and denigrated by the US Right-Wing media for being a 'socialist nanny-state', simply because Canada has a good Social Security System.
One of the issues facing China today is the problem of combating these irrational fears within the US, and to moderate the equally irrational responses that may ensue.
China has little difficulty dealing with most other countries in the world. There are minor trade and other disputes with Canada, the UK or various European or other Asian countries, but in the overall scheme there is nothing terribly serious. Probably 90% of China's concern would come from that same right-wing element of the US that was responsible for McCarthy and the cold war.
A movement which began in the late 1940s stretching to the late 1950s and was nothing more than a witch-hunt orchestrated in conjunction with fears of a gullible public gave birth to McCarthyism, the act of making serious but unsubstantiated charges against people or ideologies.
From Arab News.com; Sunday 05 September 2010
Spearheaded by Joe McCarthy, a Republican senator who banked on the fears of a largely naïve American public for political gains, the term “red scare” was rejuvenated a second time. Only this time Americans were told that hordes of communists were trying to take over the country. Communism was a dirty word, and the American public coined the phrase “reds” for communists.|
McCarthy was often on the news, exhorting Americans to beware of the communist threat, saying they must rid themselves of all the communists before America could be a great again. Such feverish and patriotic messages served to ensure that his political star kept rising, and the level of paranoia among the citizens intensifying.
This uncontrolled paranoia had its reasons. One was that news reports confirmed that some communist countries had spies in the US, and had the makings for the atomic bomb. Following Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the American public was afraid of atomic bombs, and they feared that a nuclear holocaust was just round the corner. A wave of panic started and kept alive a mushrooming industry in the construction of bomb shelters in practically every home.
Today, McCarthyism is also used to feed fears among the masses against ideologies they know very little about and are most often based on irrelevant evidence. Feeding off the ignorance of the majority of the American public about global political affairs, politicians and pundits in the US are targeting the building of an Islamic Center near Ground Zero as another scare. Only this time it’s not “red” but “Islamic terrorism”. And Hiroshima and Nagasaki have been replaced by the Twin Towers.
Let’s take a closer look at the core of this growing hysteria. While headlines from US media such as CNN, The Washington Post, New York Daily News and Fox News continue using the phrase “Ground Zero Mosque”, it is deliberately misleading as the facility is neither just a mosque nor is it right at Ground Zero.
To begin with, Cordoba House is an Islamic center, a section of which has been allocated as a mosque for its visitors. It is not located at Ground Zero as the public is being led to believe, but over two city blocks away. To understand the distance, you’d have to know that city blocks in New York are not minuscule by any stretch of the imagination.
But with the media in tow, potential political candidates like Newt Gingrich and other hard-line Republicans who incidentally are opposed to the building of any mosques in the US are touting the threats of terrorism in thinly veiled intolerance to Islam and Muslims and these messages have had an effect as a recent poll shows 69 percent of Americans are opposed to the idea of a mosque in New York, and local communities across the country are suddenly taking notice and hardening their stance on the building of mosques in their districts.
Stripped of all the rhetoric and falsehoods surrounding this controversy, this is nothing more than a continuation of an extreme ideology in the name of a policy that has survived the Bush administration; that of Christian and Jewish fundamentalism and intolerance against Islam and Muslims, and by proxy, against Palestinians and Iranians today.
Perhaps, an American writer, Brent Budowsky, summed it best when he had this to say: “Serious and patriotic people in this land we love should never create classes of Americans who should be feared or despised because of who they are, the color God gave them at birth, the faith they practice, or because they are a politically convenient object of slander by ambitious politicians campaigning for office who will do anything, including attacking the cardinal notion of the American community, to win a political campaign.
“I call on all principled conservatives and Republicans, a majority of whom agree with what I write here, to stand with Reagan and Goldwater, with Buckley and Bush, with Abe Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower, and denounce this politics of appealing to hate and bigotry and fear.
“We are a better nation than this. If there is one thing that should unite us, it is that this brand of politics has no place in the land of the free and the home of the brave.”
Indeed, the US is being cowed by the politics of those whose cowardice is masked by brazen falsehoods aimed at fanning the fears of those on whose ears their words fall. The land of the free and the home of the brave is in danger of being anything but.