by Sandy Flores-Ruiz, age 17
A recent column in The Capital Times reported that according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, only about 22% of American students are proficient in civics. One good way for students in our state to study civics is through an infamous episode from the 1950s when a journalist stood up to a powerful U.S. Senator from Wisconsin.
Joseph McCarthy, Edward R. Murrow, and the Red Scare is a first-amendment case study from history. All Wisconsin students should learn the lessons behind this case.
Joe McCarthy was one of the most controversial politicians in American history. He served as a Wisconsin Senator from when he was first elected in 1947, until his death in 1957. He is known for declaring that communist spies and sympathizers had penetrated the U.S. federal government. During the early 1950s, few people dared to speak out against McCarthy as his accusations and tactics were so intimidating. For those who did criticize McCarthy, the consequences were often dire. He would dramatically denounce them and accuse the person of being a communist, often without proof. Jobs were lost and reputations were ruined. [Read More]