Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-5c569c448b-s84wp Total loading time: 0.298 Render date: 2022-07-05T12:52:21.938Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "useNewApi": true } hasContentIssue true

An Un-American Introduction

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 October 2013


Image of the first page of this content. For PDF version, please use the ‘Save PDF’ preceeding this image.'
Un-American Articles
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2013 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


1 Donner's, Frank J.The Un-Americans (New York: Ballantine Books, 1961)Google Scholar is one of a number of studies that suggest a full historical treatment of the idea of un-Americanism, but deliver far less: Donner's study, for example, is narrowly focussed on HUAC, and is most concerned with proving that “the Committee is not a legislative investigating committee but an illegal law-enforcement body with a dominant purpose of punishment and exposure” (308). There remains no single study of un-Americanism as a concept, whereas related yet nonetheless distinctly different phenomena, such as anticommunism and even “fear,” have fared considerably better in terms of both specific studies and the longue durée. For an example of the former see Heale, M. J., McCarthy's Americans: Red Scare Politics in State and Nation, 1935–1965 (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1998)CrossRefGoogle Scholar; and for the latter see Bennett, David H., The Party of Fear: The American Far Right from Nativism to the Militia Movement (New York: Vintage Books, 1998)Google Scholar. In this context, it is telling that the most recent academic study of HUAC remains Carr, Robert K., The House Committee on Un-American Activities, Cornell Studies in Civil Liberty (New York: Cornell University Press, 1955)Google Scholar, which appeared fourteen years before the committee was finally disbanded.

2 Transcripts of Hansen's maiden speech to the Australian parliament are still a mainstay of right-wing websites, for example The term's meaning has broadened as it has entered the lexicon, and now refers more loosely to inconsiderate behaviour. See, for example, “Australia's Undoing,” Sydney Morning Herald, 15 March 2005; and Hugh Mackay, “Just Who Is Un-Australian?”, The Age, 20 June 2005, accessed at For undeutsche see Rash, Felicity J., The Language of Violence: Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf (New York: Peter Lang, 2006) 178Google Scholar.

3 See, for example, Who's Un-American? (Philadelphia: Food, Tobacco, Agricultural and Allied Workers Union of America, 1947).

4 The introduction of the Patriot Act in 2001 offers an excellent example of the American public's close and often glib association of that which is deemed un-American with McCarthyism. See, for example, Adam Burke, “Revisiting McCarthyism in the Patriot Act Era,” 26 Oct. 2005, NPR Radio, available at; Ziauddin Sardar, “A New McCarthy Era Dawns in America,” New Statesman, 13 Nov. 2006, available at; Leslie Liddell, “Striking Similarity between McCarthyism and George Bush's USA Patriot Act,” Cape Times (South Africa), 10 Jan. 2005, redistributed online at

5 See, for example, the reference to “un-American feelings and sentiments” in a letter from “A Farmer” to “Mr Rhoades,” 25 July 1799, Independent Chronicle, Boston, MA. It is an indication of the lack of historical treatment that the term has received that the OED reports the initial coining of the term taking place in 1818.

6 “A Kerry Win Would Mean More Terror, Says Cheney,” The Times, 9 Sept. 2004, 18.

7 For a transcript of Heinz Kerry's clash with reporter Colin McNickle see For her later attempts at damage limitation, see For a transcript of Heinz Kerry's initial remarks see; for her later defence see

8 Former vice president Al Gore made his comments on the surveillance that had been carried out under the aegis of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which had itself been amended by the Bush Administration's Patriot Act of 2001, via his twitter feed at Republican Senator Jim Sensenbrenner, who was one of the authors of the Patriot Act, referred to the un-American nature of the surveillance. See

9 Reuters press release, “Ex-Guantanamo Detainees from Britain Sue Rumsfeld,” 2:04PM (ET), 27 Oct. 2004, available at, and

10 See, for example, “Anti-war Celebrities Count the Cost of Speaking Their Minds,” The Times, 10 May 2003, 16; Jonah Goldberg, “Hollywood Fools,” National Review Online, 18 Sept. 2000, accessed at; and John Patterson, “Enemy of the States,” The Guardian, 8 March 2002, accessed at,,663572,00.html.

11 An arch-conservative web store, Right Wing Stuff, conflated Obama's baseball frailties with the right's perception of the United Nations as an un-American agency of “one-world government” by designing a baseball shirt with “U.N. American” as the logo: See also “St Louis, Missouri, 14 July 2009 ,” The Observer, 19 July 2009, 24; and Marylou Tousignant, “No Ball Park for Obama Today,” and ensuing blog, Politico, 31 March 2011, accessible at

12 Engel v. Vitale, 370 U.S. 421 (1962).

13 Watkins v. United States, 354 U.S. 178 (1957).

Cited by

Save article to Kindle

To save this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

An Un-American Introduction
Available formats

Save article to Dropbox

To save this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

An Un-American Introduction
Available formats

Save article to Google Drive

To save this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

An Un-American Introduction
Available formats

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *