The term McCarthyism has, as Ellen Schrecker writes, a definition as controversial as McCarthy himself. It could refer specifically to the senator's pattern of reckless, unsubstantiated accusations of communist subversion and declarations of guilt by association for individual political gain. Or it could be used more generally to apply to zealous pursuit of communists, often compared to "witch hunts," targeting labor unions, the Hollywood film industry, government departments, and private organizations in the decade following World War II.
Source: Eric Foner and John A Garraty, eds., Reader's Companion to American History (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1991), pp. 709-710.
Recommended citation: Eleanor Roosevelt, John Kennedy, and the Election of 1960: A Project of The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, ed. by Allida Black, June Hopkins, John Sears, Christopher Alhambra, Mary Jo Binker, Christopher Brick, John S. Emrich, Eugenia Gusev, Kristen E. Gwinn, and Bryan D. Peery (Columbia, S.C.: Model Editions Partnership, 2003). Electronic version based on unpublished letters. .
For more information, visit The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers home page at http://www.gwu.edu/~erpapers/.
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