Object 3: 1947 propaganda poster on the ‘Second Red Scare’

June 2, 2021

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This 1947 pamphlet produced by the Catholic Catechetical Guild Educational Society, in St Paul Minnesota, was part of a ‘Second Red Scare’ in the US, that raised fears about the horrors of a communist takeover.

This object enriches the exhibition because it demonstrates that knowledge can influence culture in a negative way. In the time period of this propaganda poster, American society was gaining knowledge that communism was spreading, creating a deep-rooted fear of communism in American culture, influencing their political beliefs as they wanted to preserve their societal values. On the poster it can be seen how strongly the concern about the spread of communism is being portrayed with “Is this tomorrow”. A sentence that would typically be phrased as a question is expressed as a statement, demonstrating that this is an attempt to enforce the message that communism is a negative political regime, and that the only correct way of thinking is to be anti- communist. This led to McCarthyism, which links to the rejection of Constitutional rights by kidnapping and interrogating, illustrating that knowledge of communism caused a change in cultural beliefs and actions. Therefore, knowledge can impact societies negatively if their cultural values disagree with the information being spread.

This object also contributes to the exhibition because it illustrates how aspects of culture can lead to exaggerated knowledge being spread. In the case of the propaganda poster, the information that communism is this dangerous system and that communists are evil is not true, especially as it is from a biased perspective. The United states is a conservative country with specific beliefs that relate to their political agenda, and in order to protect that, the knowledge of communism was spread in order to only show the negative aspects. This demonstrates how strong cultural beliefs can result in erroneous knowledge being shared and believed.

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