8⋆The Legacy of the Red Scare

THE anti-radical hysteria engendered by the war did not end with the coming of the Armistice. In the twenties, "patriotic" societies bloomed abundantly all over the American landscape,1 and the decade saw a wave of textbook-purging, teacher loyalty oaths, Ku Klux Klan activity, and court decisions unfavorable to civil liberties. Referring to the twenties as a whole, Robert K. Murray notes that "insistence upon ideological conformity, suspicion for organized labor, public intolerance toward aliens and a hatred for Soviet Russia" were hang-overs from the postwar Red scare.2 Climaxing it all was perhaps the most celebrated civil liberties case in American history, a strange mixture of nativism, antiradicalism, murder, perjury, and high drama -- the case of Sacco and Vanzetti.

When a list was compiled, in the mid- 1920's of those Americans who had most often been attacked by the "l00% Americans," Fiorello LaGuardia occupied a conspicuous place.3 Aside from his incessant attempts to lift immigration restrictions, LaGuardia ranged himself on the side of every victim of the jingoist, antiradical, and anti-Negro feeling which pervaded the era. He saw through the twin shams of patriotism and prosperity; the roar of

Robert K. Murray, Red Scare: A Study in National Hysteria ( Minneapolis, 1955), 264.
Norman Hapgood, ed., Professional Patriots ( New York, 1927), 197.


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Laguardia in Congress


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