the cold war

Essay by melnrandyCollege, UndergraduateA+, November 2014

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The Cold War and American Society

Melonie Brown


he Cold War had a long lasting effect on American society for much of the second half of the 20th century. The United States represented capitalism and democracy while the Soviet Union represented communism and authoritarianism. The Cold War differed with most wars in that much of it was propaganda. Hollywood produced anti-communist movies and changed film scripts to remove anything that didn't praise American history. Anticommunist fervor trickled down to have local impacts as well. Nearly 2 million names were gathered by the "Better American League of southern California" resulting in people being fired, blacklisted, and having their civil rights violated based on speculation.

Being prepared for a nuclear attack became a way of life. Communities installed air raid sirens. Ordinary folks built and stocked bomb shelters in their suburban backyards. Schools practiced duck-and-cover drills where children hid under their desks, covering their heads.

Americans lived in constant fear that an attack might happen at any minute. This paranoia was instigated by political figures who suggested that Soviet spies were everywhere, actively conspiring to overthrow the government. The Government started constructing the interstate highway system. President Eisenhower secured its approval by pointing out that the interstate highways could move troops if the United States was invaded, and could serve as an evacuation route for major cities. Soon, Americans started distrusting their neighbors. Reckless accusations forced thousands of people to be called to testify before Congress or the FBI. While many of these accusations were unsubstantiated, people still lost their careers and some were even imprisoned. Just being accused of being a Communist sympathizer could cause a person to be rejected by his whole community.

One of America's worst blemishes was racial inequality. How could the United States offer the people...