This article goes into detail about the factors that led to the Red Scare after WWII. It not only proves that Truman was most responsible, but it acknowledges other factors that were also important in proliferating the Red Scare.
Post WWII America saw the emergence of another Red Scare, one that would plague the country for over a decade. The major things that were responsible for that scare were HUAC, the FBI, and McCarthy. However, the Truman Administration was the thing that was most responsible for the post-war Red Scare.
Truman and his administration are the most responsible for the Red Scare. Many critics of Truman called him soft on communism, and this caused him to lose favor with Americans. Fueled by a need to get tough on communism, Truman put on an anti-communist show that would set the precedent for others to follow suit, making him the most responsible for the spread of the Red Scare. Two of the strongest pieces of evidence depicting this are the Truman Doctrine and Executive Order 9835. The Truman Doctrine is perhaps the single most important legislation responsible for the Red Scare because it spelled out for America and the world that communism and any country affiliated with communism was a threat to American security. This is important in spreading the paranoia of the Red Scare because it was a government supported statement stressing the threat of communism. Furthermore, the Executive Order 9835 was a loyalty program that tried to find communist threats within the government. Fueled by the FBI, the program ruined the lives of hundreds of Americans on meritless accusations that did not allow the accused to prove themselves innocent. Also, the order set the precedent for how the search of other communist threats would be carried out by other organizations (Patterson 191). Next, the administration went after top communist leaders and those who had prominent affiliations with the Communist Party. Truman brought the fear of communism abroad into a fear of a communistic threat from within the United States. Though he did not lead the witch hunt that followed by the HUAC and McCarthy, he and his administration most definitely set the stage for them to do so. He further stressed the fight against the communist threat by sending the Freedom Train around the country, which contained the Truman Doctrine (184). He basically advertised his policy and therefore made the threat of communism into a reality in the everyday life of the average American. Therefore, Truman and his administration were the main factors that contributed to the spread of the Red Scare.
The HUAC, FBI, and McCarthy were all very important players in the spread of the anti-communist sentiment that swept the nation also, however they were not as important as the Truman administration. The HUAC too targeted high ranking people with a connection to the Communist Party and the party itself; however the HUAC was primarily created to investigate fascists during the war. Though it turned into a means to hunt communist “threats,” it only did so prominently after Truman delivered his doctrine and order in the March of 1947. The FBI and Hoover were also responsible in targeting suspected communist threats and instilling fear of communist affiliations in the public. However, it is important to note that Hoover was a tyrant whose “investigations” were very weak and many times based on heresy. Truman chose not to bring him down because he needed Hoover to provide information, and therefore Truman can be blamed for Hoover’s witch hunt as well (188). Furthermore, one of the most responsible for the Red Scare is McCarthy; however it’s important to understand the McCarthy came after the Red Scare had already begun. Though it is true that he greatly expanded the Red Scare, he had only taken advantage of a population already affected by the Red Scare. His accusations were without logic and the proof he provided, non-existent. Therefore, the only way he would have been able to do what he did would be to have targeted a people already engulfed in the Red Scare paranoia. All in all, though it is undeniable that there were many factors that led to the Red Scare of the post-war era, namely HUAC, the FBI, and McCarthy, Truman and his administration are the ones who are most to blame because they set the stage for everyone else.