Rethinking the Red Scare: The Lusk Committee and New York's Crusade against Radicalism, 1919-1923

Rethinking the Red Scare: The Lusk Committee and New York's Crusade against Radicalism, 1919-1923

Rethinking the Red Scare: The Lusk Committee and New York's Crusade against Radicalism, 1919-1923

Rethinking the Red Scare: The Lusk Committee and New York's Crusade against Radicalism, 1919-1923

Synopsis

Using New York as a lens, this book examines the Red Scare that griped America between 1919-1923 and the pattern it established for future episodes of political repression. It also presents the first in-depth study of the Soviet Bureau, the unofficial Bolshevik embassy that attempted to establish commercial ties with American businessmen, as well as the development of the Rand School as one of the nation's first working-class oriented schools.

Excerpt

Benjamin Glassberg's day began like any other. After dressing, eating an early breakfast, and perusing the daily newspaper for the latest information on world and national events, he scurried off to Commercial High School where he taught history and government to the wide-eyed youth of Brooklyn. However, when he entered the classroom that morning of January 14, 1919, Glassberg was unaware of the turmoil that he, as well as the state and nation, would soon experience.

“Why is Bolshevism attacked with such hatred in the American press?” asked Edgar Grimmel, a fifteen-year-old student of Glassberg’s. “The American people are being misled, ” his teacher replied. “Government officials are suppressing true reports from American Red Cross observers regarding the Russian Bolsheviki. ” Glassberg went on to denounce specific news accounts, published in what he labeled “the capitalistic New York press, ” of Bolsheviks murdering women and children in Russia.

Another student, Reginald Bud, interjected, “Are Lenin and Trotzky really German agents?” “Of course not, ” Glassberg answered. “Neither could be German agents because it was their propaganda which brought about the German revolution and ended the war. ”

“What about the ongoing debate concerning the red flag laws?” asked George Mack, the oldest student in the class. “Is Algernon Lee, the socialist alderman, correct when he claims the red flag can be displayed above the American flag?” Mack’s teacher pondered the question for a moment, then slowly replied “Yes…in a sense. ”

Such pronouncements apparently had a significant impact upon Glassberg’s pupils. One student, Martin Carrol, later admitted that the statements “changed my mind from the United States to Russia, and gave me the opinion that the Bolsheviki were a good thing. ” When Calvin Kemble, an English teacher at the same school, began criticizing the

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