History lecture to be held

By Brian Slupski

The History Club will confront the hysteria of the McCarthy era Tuesday, when two speakers will lecture on the subject.

The McCarthy era, which took place in the 1950s, was a time of great anxiety among the American people about a possible communist conspiracy which would undermine the government.

The era gets its name from Sen. Joseph McCarthy, who accused people of being part of the communist plot, and then conducted a public trial to prove the person as a communist, said Meg George, faculty adviser of the History Club.

She said it was the climate of the times which allowed the trials to go on because the public received a steady barrage of material about subversives and conspiracies.

“It really showed how a naive and uninformed, ignorant population can be manipulated,” George said.

McCarthy blackmailed and bullied people which kept people from standing up to him, she said.

McCarthy’s real motivation behind the hearings was to advance his own political career, and he really didn’t care who he hurt or whose life he destroyed along the way, George said.

Two people who were actually convicted of conducting espionage for the Kremlin were Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. Their sentence was an execution, she said.

One of the Rosenbergs’ sons, attorney Robert Meeropol, will speak at NIU tonight at 8 p.m. in the Sandburg Auditorium. Dr. Lois Self also will speak on the McCarthy trials.

The conviction of the Rosenbergs caused a lot of controversy at the time because many people felt they were innocent, George said.

She said the era ended when a number of senators finally stood up to McCarthy and censored him. He died a short time later.