Murrow, the Red Scare and ISIS

“We must remember always, that accusation is not proof, and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law. We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason if we dig deep into our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men.”

-Edward R. Murrow, Good Night, and Good Luck

         Good Night and Good Luck is a black and white film directed by George Clooney in 2005. The movie revolves around the historic figure of Edward Murrow and his fight against Senator Joseph McCarthy. To be honest, I had my doubts about this film, wondering if it would be another corny movie promoting free speech and justice. This is not typically the type of movie that I would watch in my spare time. In the end, however, this movie surprised me with its eloquent speeches and portrayal of the power of mass media. This movie showed that truth and the exposure of truth is more important than we realize. It also showed us what we perceive as truth can be more deceptive than we realize.

         Personally, what I liked the most about the film, besides the beautifully phrased speeches completed by David Strathairn who played the role of Edward R. Murrow, was the portrayal of the Red Scare during the 1920s. The film showed realistic ways in which the government infringed upon the rights of citizens and how deeply even the thought of communism could affect the American public. In the film, each of the members of the team even had to discuss whether they had been previously affiliated in any way to the communist cause because they could be taken down. It portrayed just how much power fear holds over us.

         Fear; we are still seeing the effects and power of fear to this day. While viewing Good Night and Good Luck, I must admit that I saw strong parallels between the Red Scare and what is occurring right now today with ISIS and Muslim extremists. People are afraid. There have been multiple incidents within these last few years that have shaken the prospect of safety that people so deeply need. Some of these incidents include Charlie Hebdo, the Boston Bombings, the all-still-to-recent Paris attacks and the video released allegedly threatening New York City.

         These incidents, specifically the most recent Paris attacks, have warranted some, like Donald Trump, to begin talk of closing down mosques in the U.S. in order to prevent terrorists from coming together and planning another attack. It has also caused other like Governor Robert Bentley to talk about refusing to take in Syrian refugees in fear that we would letting terrorists into the country. This racism, stereotyping and possible infringement upon religious rights and religious freedom are the result of fear. Much like the Red Scare, politicians are using this fear to their advantage and the media is feeding off of it. On November 17th’s showing of The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, Noah commented on how politicians are using the Paris attacks to promote their ideals and attack the other democratic parties. For example, Noah played a video clip of Donald Trump claiming that if the citizens Paris had guns the terrorist attack would have been less tragic, thus promoting his own goal of expanding the right to own firearms. Noah also played a clip of the Republican party claiming that the Democrats are more concerned about protecting the name of Islam than protecting their own people. To a certain extent, this angers me. There are bombings and shootings in France, people are being kidnapped, tortured and killed and politicians want to mudsling, focusing only on themselves and their benefit.

         It is this manipulation and use of fear that made Murrow stand up in the first place. He recognized how the media bended to cover stories such as these. He recognized how media was being used to distract people from what were the real problems. I think in the end, this is what I truly appreciated about the film. Good Night and Good Luck did portray the occurrence of the Red Scare in the 1920s, but it also depicted a piece of history that America needs to remember. We need to learn from our past. History is repeating itself. Whether its communism or its ISIS, the media is being used to keep people’s attention away from the real problems and to keep them afraid. It can be scary; I won’t lie about that. But we need to stand up and face that fear instead of cowering in its presence, letting it control us and drive us to morally questionable actions. Murrow understood that. He understood that we needed to stand tall in the face of fear. I just hope everyone else can remember that too.

2 thoughts on “Murrow, the Red Scare and ISIS”

  1. Wonderful job here. Genuinely well written. You were very delicate about tying together modern events to the trials of Edward R. Murrow’s days, what with Trump and all. A pleasure to read!


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