The United States emerged from World War II as the most powerful nation on Earth. Europe and Japan had been devastated by the conflict, but our land was unscathed, and the industrial capacities we’d built during the war made us a formidable economic power. Plus, we alone had the Bomb. No country on the planet would dare confront us.
Our supremacy was short-lived. Russia, our growing political rival, tested its own atomic weapon. The Cold War began, and with it a state of constant fear. Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed as traitors, convicted of passing atomic secrets to the Soviets. The House Un-American Activities Committee investigated suspected communists, often with little or no proof. Dozens of Americans found that they were mysteriously blacklisted, fired from their jobs and unable to find work. Senator Joseph McCarthy rose to power on a campaign of unfounded accusations.
Even a six-year-old boy could sense that something was in the air. I didn’t understand the details, but I knew that our American way of life was being threatened from within. Everyone said so. And everyone was a suspect.
The Red Scare is the subject of Wednesday’s Sleeper Ave. story.
Read it, or you will have to answer for your disloyalty.