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?