Essay: Discussion on Espionage and Seditions Acts, Japanese-Americans internment and the Red Scare

Discussion on Espionage and Seditions Acts, Japanese-Americans internment and the Red Scare

As outlined in an article by Dashiels, the Espionage act was passed on 15th June 1917 while the Seditions act was enacted the following year on 16th May 1918 (n.d). World War 1 took effect on 28th July 1914 and lasted towards the end of 1918. While the war persisted, enemity grew stronger between the United States and Germany. In an effort to beat Germany and its allied groups, the United States enacted the Espionage Act to restrict the publishing and expression of opinions to protect the U.S military intelligence at the war. The act was enforced to ensure shipping security and curb spying acts. The act was later amended by the U.S Congress in 1918with the Seditions Act making it a crime to speak or write anything in relation to the participation of America in the war.

Internment of Japanese-Americans During ww2 dates back to 7th December 1941. Japanese Americans were evacuated from their main settlement areas of California, Washington Oregon and Arizona. According to Al Odah and Rasul, Japanese –Americans were denied hearings in regard to this matter and no charges were pressed. As a result, about 120,000 left their homes for detainment. (2005). “The U.S Army Western Defense Command planned and enforced the evacuation of Japanese-Americans, first to temporary centers then to permanent relocation centers that were being constructed throughout the western United States.” (Carollo, 2016). These actions were propagated by an attack on the Pearl Harbor by Japan. Men women and children were detained for a period of three months under tight military supervision. These victims were mainly held in swamp areas and wind-deserts of the United States. This order was signed by American president Roosevelt. This internment was later resolved by the civil Liberties Act of 1988 which declared internment a social injustice and was signed by U.S President Reagan after an apology.

“Mc Carthyism” is a term that is coined from an anti-communism senator; Joseph Mac Carthy. (Wendy 2007). In the early 1930s a number of American citizens were appealed to communist’s ideologies. This was motivated by factors such as African rights and unemployment issues. As communist numbers grew, an anti-communist movement also grew motivated by leftists who feared communism subversion. This was followed by anti-communism tactics like loyalty oaths adoption and FBI spying to counter communism influence. Communism however gained ground after U.S joined the Soviet Union against Hitler who had invaded the Soviet Union. After 1946 elections, President Truman established a Loyalty Security Program which declared communists disloyal. This was towards the end of the 2nd World war. Restrictions on association and expressions were made to clear the influence of communism after the U.S had joined the Soviet Union during the war against Germany. This created hysteria over the red menace or the red scare. In a bid to gain political advantage, Mc Carthy took this opportunity to improve his political position. “He claimed to hold in his hand a list of 205 communists in the state department.” (Wendy, 2007). This clearly shows his stand against communism thus giving anti-communism the title Mc Carthyism.

The pentagon papers are a study between 1945 to 1968 that exposed a U.S government policy about Indochina which is said to be based on false myths and lies. On 17th June 1967, a team was selected by U.S Defense secretary; Robert Mc Namara to study and analyze U.S decision making between the early 1940 to 1968 on Vietnam. The team of thirty-six men remained unnamed apart from Leslie Gelb and Daniel Ellsberg who later took to smuggling them in in1969. He distributed them to the Washington post and the New York Times. The papers were allegedly written to protect U.S interests in the Far East.

Personal Liberties of American citizens should not be curtailed at all because such measures deny them their rights such as movement and access to important amenities. For instance the internment of Japanese-Americans denied the access to good housing and access to food. It also destructed theirs social livelihood. I would not agree to government arguments such as restriction of association and freedom of expression since human rights are placed at stake due to such measures which is a breach to democratic rights and human oppression. It is important to learn that citizens of a country deserve to be protected without harassment due to race or nationality for instance in the case of Japanese-American internment. It can be learnt that citizens also have the freedom to express their opinions responsibly especially in the case of Mc Carthyism.








Stone, G. R. (2005). Rasul v. Bush and Al Odah v. United States. New York University Review of Law and Social Change29, 613.

Wall, W. (2009). Anti-Communism in the 1950s. The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.

Gravel, M. (1971). The Pentagon Papers. Boston: Little, Brown