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The Cold War
The Cold War impacted every aspect of American life. America was determined to exhibit her ability to the other countries in the world and to a large degree degrade the Soviet Union. This paper explains how the Cold War affected the higher education, the economy, immigration policy, civil rights, and civil liberties.
To facilitate America’s build up of the image of economic and political superiority, an emphasis was placed on science and technology and particularly on higher education where research and innovation were expected to be the tools by which the advancement of capitalist ideals would be accomplished. The 1957 launch of Sputnik, the first artificial satellite into orbit – by the Soviet Union was admittedly a shock to the American public, as it challenged the merits of their self-belief. The immediate reaction to this apparent challenge to the American superiority was the invigoration of federal support towards research and development, mainly in the higher education circles (Foner, 2009).
All features of American life were influenced by the cold war and the economy was not excluded. America was in a bid to show that capitalism was an effective economic model. The presidents during this period worked really hard to revamp the economy using all means possible, particularly president Reagan who catapulted economic growth with his deregulation and tax reduction. Nevertheless, a large amount of this money was shifted to military spending and wooing other countries to abide by capitalism for instance the Marshall Plan (Foner, 2009).
America was in a bid to spruce up its image and show the world that she was democratic. America’s immigration used to be governed by the quota system which was very discriminatory since it distributed the numerical, immigration quotas according to national origin. To this end, immigration laws were changed and the quota system was repealed to introduce equality regarding all nations in immigration matters. This was not the case in all areas since Asian immigration was highly restricted since they were deemed to support communism (Handlin, 1952).
As a result of the cold war, there was an intense ideological struggle between the United States along with the Soviet Union since the influence over emerging third world nations advantaged the political position of black Americans. This was because American racism became a hotspot as a source of propaganda by the communists. This was especially so because racism was not in harmony with America’s self proclaimed ideal of democracy. Continued discrimination of black Americans gave the world a negative perception of America which it so needed to keep positive hence the political elite showed commitment to the civil rights movement. The racial conflict was resolved mostly in favor of the black equality. After all, America needed to legitimize its democracy claim (McAdam, 1999).
Many Euro- American ethnics believed they were waging a parallel war to the African- American movement against segregation. Immigration reform was their civil rights movement. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, the Anti-Defamation League, a group made up of mainly minorities in America, published several books, many commissioned from academics which aimed to combat not just anti-Semitism but racism, and religious intolerance in general.