Most people are passingly aware of the “Red Scare,” the frenzied hunt for suspected Communists that gripped America in the ‘40s and '50s. But a less-reported aspect of this era was the government’s parallel fear of homosexuals. Yep, at the very same time Senator Joseph McCarthy was braying like a donkey about the prevalence of Commies in the State Department, the government was also on the hunt for anyone with a hint of the gay about them. For instance, in 1950, the State Department forced 91 of their homosexual employees to resign, lest their gayness spread through the government like wildfire.

The fear wasn’t strictly that these people were gay, but that gay people were more susceptible to blackmail, and therefore a much bigger security risk. The logic was that a homosexual member of the State Department would voluntarily give up state secrets if someone threatened to out them. So the obvious solution was to fire them all, because that certainly wouldn’t create any disgruntled potential intelligence assets. This whole debacle was dubbed “The Lavender Scare,” and wouldn’t you know it, Senator Joe McCarthy was up to his ears in it as well.

5 WTF Witch Hunts You Never Learned About In History Class

Yalta Conference- USSR declares war on Japan after Germany’s surrender. USSR promised lost territory.

Potsdam Conference- Vague decisions on what happens to the lost/conquered territory after the war. Truman attends.

Satellite Countries Created- Countries in Eastern Europe that were heavily influenced by the USSR and Communism.

Iron Curtain- Figurative line between the Western non-Communist European countries and the Eastern Communist European countries

Containment Policy- US foreign policy with the steady goal of containing Communism (ideally, not defeating it, but preventing it from spreading).

Truman Doctrine- Political support for non-Communist countries in the Middle East and Eurasia (this includes supporting dictatorships).

Marshall Plan- Economic aid to European countries after WWII

NATO vs Warsaw Pact- NATO: band of Western nations (this was NOT the United Nations). Warsaw Pact: Band of USSR and its allies

HUAC- House (Of) Un-american Activities Committee.

McCarthyism- Senator Joseph McCarthy’s claim that he had a list of over 200 Communist working in the US government (or army).

Domino Theory- The theory that declared that if one European country “falls” to Communism, the others will commence to “fall” also.

Brown v Board of Education- A court ruling that declared Plessy v Ferguson  as unconstitutional.

Montgomery Bus Boycott- A 13-month mass protest that was sparked by Rosa Parks and ended in the Supreme Court ruling that bus segregation was illegal.

Baby Boom- Period from 1945-1960 that experienced increased births and a lowered death rate. This encouraged a period of “have 2.5 perfect kids and move to the suburbs” type of conformity.

The Feminine Mystique- A book by Betty Friedan that sparked the second-wave feminism movement.

The Beat Generation- a rebellious movement composed of poets Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, and Jack Kerouac. Their works were primarily anti-materialism, anti-war. and anti-capitalism. 

Let’s be very clear about what Trump is doing here: as ABC wrote, he’s suggesting “Khan’s wife didn’t speak because she was forbidden to as a Muslim.” This is bullshit. It is flatly, verifiably, false. But that’s almost beside the point.

Trump listened to a speech by the bereaved father of a fallen Muslim soldier and used it to slander the fallen soldier’s family. That was his response. That is his character.

At this point, I honestly don’t know what to say. I don’t have new language for this, I haven’t found another way of saying this isn’t okay, this isn’t kind, this isn’t decent. Instead, I’ll note James Fallows’s response. He quotes Joseph Welch, speaking to Senator Joseph McCarthy in 1954.

“Until this moment,” he said, “I think I never really gauged your cruelty.”

—  Ezra Klein asks just what kind of person Donald Trump is (and if you don’t know the answer by now, you never will)