The Internal Security Act of 1950, also known as McCarran-Walter (or simply the McCarran) Act or the anticommunist law, is still on the books with potentially grave consequences for you and me as it compromises U.S. national and individual liberties to the extreme. The Internal Security Act, named for Nevada’s Democrat (yes, Democrat) Senator Pat McCarran, allows for the fingerprinting and registration of all those who are broadly called “subversives” at large in the United States. Its most significant provision provides the authorization of opening and detaining individuals (citizens and non citizens) in concentration camps “for emergency situations” as evidenced by the typographic sign below. And don’t even try to make “graphic representations.”
President Harry Truman vetoed the Act on September 22, 1950, and sent Congress a lengthy veto message in which he criticized specific provisions as “the greatest danger to freedom of speech, press, and assembly since the Alien and Sedition Laws of 1798,” a “mockery of the Bill of Rights” and a “long step toward totalitarianism.” Congress overrode the veto.
Yes, it can happen here.
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About Steven Heller
Steven Heller is the co-chair of the SVA MFA Designer /Designer as Author + Entrepreneur program, writes frequently for Wired and Design Observer. He is also the author of over 170 books on design and visual culture. He received the 1999 AIGA Medal and is the 2011 recipient of the Smithsonian National Design Award.View all posts by Steven Heller →