The Resurrection of the McCarthy Playbook

My father returned to NJ in 1941 after spending ten years living in the Soviet Union. Within five months, he was drafted into the Army while his four siblings and parents were stuck in the USSR as a result of war-time travel challenges and lack of funds to pay for their repatriation.

While in the service and after the war had ended, he fought a private war to bring his family back to him. It was a great responsibility for such a young man.

Suddenly, our country began to grow uneasy about the growth of Communism in China and Eastern Europe, which lead to the crusade against alleged communists in this country. No one was immune –including actors, writers, musicians, and government officials. Senator Joe McCarthy of Wisconsin was behind this movement. He claimed to have a list of communist subversives. Some of the accused lost their jobs, others had their careers destroyed, and a few were imprisoned.

As I wrote in my book (Do Svidanya Dad- Tracing the Story of an American Family Trapped in the USSR),  “These fears fueled McCarthy’s paranoid investigations and bullying tactics employed against alleged American communists.” Americans were being told to fear the communist threats within our nation. No wonder my father was having difficulty getting his family home.

Fast forward sixty years. We turn on the news and hear the promise of a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslims entering the United States, an order of surveillance of “certain mosques” and a possible creation of a database on all Muslims. It sounds to me that this pledge was taken right out of Joe McCarthy’s playbook.

I really wonder what Dad would think?




About kjw616

I am a genealogy detective. I have already written one book about my Irish family's journey from 19th century Ireland to the United States- a family history sprinkled with personal anecdotes. My second book was intended to be a similar story about my Russian ancestors. Instead, it turned into a tale of just my father's immediate family. It is the tale of what happens when 6 children from New Jersey are moved to the Soviet Union by their Russian-born parents during the Great Depression. It details who lives, who dies, and who is able to return to NJ during a time when leaving the USSR was not an easy endeavor, particularly during World War II and the Cold War. It is my hope that those interested in history during this time period will find this story fascinating as well as those fellow amateur family historians who will learn some of the tools such as, visits to the National Archives, and local libraries I used to uncover this story.
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4 Responses to The Resurrection of the McCarthy Playbook

  1. Terrifying, isn’t it? I thought part of the reason we learned history was to avoid repeating it. Doesn’t appear so.

  2. kjw616 says:

    So many times while I was writing this book I stopped and said, “Whoa!” This sounds way to familiar. I guess we really don’t learn. And how many times do we try to pass on advice to our children based upon our experiences, but they just roll their eyes because they think that “we don’t know how it is today?”

  3. Pingback: Knock Knock. It’s Just the FBI | Do Svidanya Dad

  4. Pingback: Knock Knock. It’s Just the FBI– Updated | Do Svidanya Dad

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