NATIONAL crisis in the United States, whether domestic or foreign in origin, has often produced punitive expeditions in search of heretics and radicals, and the depression of the thirties was no exception. No sooner did it become evident that the nation was in a state of economic collapse that hostility to radicalism began to accumulate.
While the Red scare of the early 1930's was clearly directed at symptoms rather than cause, its supporters could point, at least, to symptoms which were genuinely alarming. Communists and Socialists found in the depression a perfect opportunity to convince Americans of the hopelessness of the capitalist system and to take the lead in demanding immediate solutions for the problems of hunger and joblessness. LaGuardia kept insisting, nevertheless, that the job of Congress was not to hunt Communists but to destroy the economic insecurity on which their movement fattened itself.
His first clash in this issue was with the dapper Grover Whalen, who had been appointed police commissioner of New York by Jimmy Walker. Whalen was convinced, as early as 1929, that "New York was becoming a hotbed of communism."1 When a bomb addressed to Governor Roosevelt was found in the main____________________