The United States of America appears to be going through one of its darker phases, which we haven’t had for a while. It’s not fascism. It’s a long and dishonourable record of House committees that shame, jail, and socially eradicate people:
Overman Committee – 1919
This Committee started off investigating pro-German sentiments in the U.S. liquor industry. It then evolved into a full anti-Bolshevik hunt and become the first Red Scare.
Fish Committee – 1930
This committee examined people and organisations suspected of being involved in communist activities in the United States.
McCormack-Dickstein Committee 1938-1944
Investigated Nazi propaganda, as well as communist propaganda, and anyone associated with either.
Dies Committee 1938 – 1944
Investigated communist affiliations especially in the arts community. Also proposed interning Japanese Americans into camps – which the government then did.
House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) 1945 – 1975
Anti-communist investigations into arts and movie industries, and broad-ranging investigations into government institutions.
HUAC led to the Communist Control Act of 1954. This law, still in force, outlaws the communist party of the United States, and outlaws membership, and outlaws all supporting activities.
According to the Harvard Crimson, “In the fifties, the most effective sanction was terror. Almost any publicity from HUAC meant ‘the blacklist’. Without a chance to clear his name, a witness would suddenly find himself without friends and without a job.”
In June 2016, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich advocated the creation of a new House Un-American Activities, in order to combat Islamic terrorism.
For those who haven’t seen the movie, Good Night, And Good Luck shows the kind of pressure some news organisations successfully brought to bear against this committee:
The precedents are not good, but public pressure and media pressure can be successful in curbing this kind of political investigation.