Red-baiting is the act of accusing someone, or some group, of being communist, socialist or, in a broader sense, of being significantly more leftist at their core than they may appear at the outset. The term is used mainly with the intention of discrediting the individual's or organization's political views as dishonest and/or haphazard. The implication in red-baiting is usually that the target represents an ill-intentioned external force which has no proper place in a given political party, coalition, or union.

Alternatively, red-baiting can also be a tactic by a critic of communism wherein s/he raises negative aspects of countries or governments which the communist is supposed to support (notably the Soviet Union and China) with the intent of "trapping" the communist into conceding that his/her ideas are part of a totalitarian ideological structure.

Red-baiting is more often associated with McCarthyism. It does not now, in the 21st century, have quite the far-reaching effect it did during either of the two historic Red Scare periods of the 1920s (First Red Scare) and 1950s (Second Red Scare). This is usually because most Radical Left groups are more forthcoming about their politics than their forebears may have felt they could be in the context of the Red Scare periods. The words "socialism" and "communism" are not equated with "terrorist," "traitor" or "conspirator" today the way they often were in the two Red Scare eras. A somewhat contrary view would hold that there's been a persistent and concerted effort associated with the conservative right in the U.S. since at least the time of Ronald Reagan using red-baiting to influence changes in the federal judiciary ("activist judges"), the "liberal media", and, most recently, the reputedly extremely leftist faculties of colleges and universities.

External links

* [ "What kind of movement do we need?"] Socialist Worker article arguing that red-baiting is weakening the anti-war movement today, and has a history of being used to discredit legitimate activist organizations.

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  • red-baiting — ˈ ̷ ̷ˌ ̷ ̷ ̷ ̷ noun Usage: often capitalized R Etymology: red (II) + baiting : the act of baiting or harassing as a red often in a malicious or irresponsible manner the increase of red baiting within the country in order to stifle even liberal… …   Useful english dictionary

  • red-baiting — /ˈrɛd beɪtɪŋ/ (say red bayting) noun Colloquial the act of denouncing or deprecating political opponents who are radical or left wing. –red baiter, noun …  

  • red-baiting — noun Usage: often capitalized R Date: 1928 the act of attacking or persecuting as a Communist or as communistic …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • red-baiting — noun The practice of accusing someone of being a communist or even a socialist with the intention of discrediting his political views …   Wiktionary

  • red baiting — Synonyms and related words: Jim Crow, Jim Crow law, McCarthyism, anti Semitism, apartheid, black power, black supremacy, chauvinism, class consciousness, class distinction, class hatred, class prejudice, class war, color bar, color line,… …   Moby Thesaurus

  • red-bait — ˈredˌbāt verb Usage: often capitalized R Etymology: back formation from red baiter & red baiting, n. intransitive verb : to engage in red baiting indignantly pointed out that he had never Red baited in his life W.E.Shelton transitive verb …   Useful english dictionary

  • Red Scare — Red Menace redirects here. For the 2007 Wildstorm Productions comic book series see Red Menace (comics).The term Red Scare has been retroactively applied to two distinct periods of strong anti Communism in United States history: first from 1917… …   Wikipedia

  • red-bait|er — «REHD BAY tuhr», noun. a person who is given to red baiting …   Useful english dictionary

  • red-bait — verb Usage: often capitalized R Date: 1940 transitive verb to subject (as a person or group) to red baiting intransitive verb to engage in red baiting • red baiter noun, often capitalized R …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • red-baiter — noun A person who practices red baiting …   Wiktionary

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