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Ellen Schrecker

Ellen Schrecker

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Ellen Wolf Schrecker, Ph.D. (born August 4, 1938) is a professor of American history
History of the United States
The history of the United States traditionally starts with the Declaration of Independence in the year 1776, although its territory was inhabited by Native Americans since prehistoric times and then by European colonists who followed the voyages of Christopher Columbus starting in 1492. The...

 at Yeshiva University
Yeshiva University
Yeshiva University is a private university in New York City, with six campuses in New York and one in Israel. Founded in 1886, it is a research university ranked as 45th in the US among national universities by U.S. News & World Report in 2012...

. She is currently teaching and has received the Frederick Ewen Academic Freedom Fellowship at the Tamiment Library at NYU.

She is known primarily for her work in the history of McCarthyism
McCarthyism is the practice of making accusations of disloyalty, subversion, or treason without proper regard for evidence. The term has its origins in the period in the United States known as the Second Red Scare, lasting roughly from the late 1940s to the late 1950s and characterized by...

. Historian Ronald Radosh
Ronald Radosh
Ronald Radosh is an American writer, professor, historian, former Marxist, and neoconservative. He is known for his work on the Cold War espionage case of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg and his advocacy of the state of Israel....

 has described her as "the dean of the anti-anti-Communist historians."


She graduated magna cum laude
Latin honors
Latin honors are Latin phrases used to indicate the level of academic distinction with which an academic degree was earned. This system is primarily used in the United States, Canada, and in many countries of continental Europe, though some institutions also use the English translation of these...

from Radcliffe College
Radcliffe College
Radcliffe College was a women's liberal arts college in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and was the coordinate college for Harvard University. It was also one of the Seven Sisters colleges. Radcliffe College conferred joint Harvard-Radcliffe diplomas beginning in 1963 and a formal merger agreement with...

 in 1960 and earned her M.A. in 1962 and her doctorate in 1974, both from Harvard University
Harvard University
Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...

. She has taught at Harvard, Princeton
Princeton University
Princeton University is a private research university located in Princeton, New Jersey, United States. The school is one of the eight universities of the Ivy League, and is one of the nine Colonial Colleges founded before the American Revolution....

, New York University
New York University
New York University is a private, nonsectarian research university based in New York City. NYU's main campus is situated in the Greenwich Village section of Manhattan...

, the New School for Social Research, and Columbia
Columbia University
Columbia University in the City of New York is a private, Ivy League university in Manhattan, New York City. Columbia is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York, the fifth oldest in the United States, and one of the country's nine Colonial Colleges founded before the...

. From 1998 to 2002, Schrecker was the editor of Academe, the journal of the American Association of University Professors
American Association of University Professors
The American Association of University Professors is an organization of professors and other academics in the United States. AAUP membership is about 47,000, with over 500 local campus chapters and 39 state organizations...


Schrecker's best known book is Many Are the Crimes: McCarthyism in America, published in 1998. Kirkus Reviews
Kirkus Reviews
Kirkus Reviews is an American book review magazine founded in 1933 by Virginia Kirkus . Kirkus serves the book and literary trade sector, including libraries, publishers, literary and film agents, film and TV producers and booksellers. Kirkus Reviews is published on the first and 15th of each month...

wrote of this book, "It is no easy task bringing new life to an era already as dissected as the McCarthy era, yet this is what Schrecker accomplishes in a magnificent study of how and why McCarthyism happened and how its shadow still darkens our lives." In addition to McCarthyism, Schrecker has written on related topics such as political repression
Political repression
Political repression is the persecution of an individual or group for political reasons, particularly for the purpose of restricting or preventing their ability to take political life of society....

, academic freedom
Academic freedom
Academic freedom is the belief that the freedom of inquiry by students and faculty members is essential to the mission of the academy, and that scholars should have freedom to teach or communicate ideas or facts without being targeted for repression, job loss, or imprisonment.Academic freedom is a...

 and Soviet espionage during the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

, as well as on Franco-American relations
Franco-American relations
Franco-American relations refers to the international relations between France and the United States. Its groundwork was laid by the colonization of parts of the Americas by the European powers France and Great Britain...

 in the 1920s—the subject of her Ph.D. dissertation—and coauthoring a Chinese cookbook
Chinese cuisine
Chinese cuisine is any of several styles originating in the regions of China, some of which have become highly popular in other parts of the world – from Asia to the Americas, Australia, Western Europe and Southern Africa...


Political views

Schrecker has said that she is "a card-carrying member of the American Civil Liberties Union
American Civil Liberties Union
The American Civil Liberties Union is a U.S. non-profit organization whose stated mission is "to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States." It works through litigation, legislation, and...

 who undertook the study of McCarthyism precisely because of my opposition to its depredations against freedom of speech," and that "in this country[,] McCarthyism did more damage to the constitution than the American Communist party ever did." Critics have argued that, in making her case, Schrecker has underplayed the undemocratic nature of the Communist Party USA
Communist Party USA
The Communist Party USA is a Marxist political party in the United States, established in 1919. It has a long, complex history that is closely related to the histories of similar communist parties worldwide and the U.S. labor movement....

. In a reply to an essay that Schrecker and Maurice Isserman
Maurice Isserman
Maurice Isserman is James L. Ferguson Professor of History at Hamilton College and an important contributor to the “new history of American communism” which reinterpreted the role of the Communist Party USA during the Popular Front period of the 1930s and 1940s. His books have also traced the...

 wrote in The Nation
The Nation
The Nation is the oldest continuously published weekly magazine in the United States. The periodical, devoted to politics and culture, is self-described as "the flagship of the left." Founded on July 6, 1865, It is published by The Nation Company, L.P., at 33 Irving Place, New York City.The Nation...

 in 2000, John Earl Haynes
John Earl Haynes
John Earl Haynes is an American historian who is a specialist in 20th century political history in the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress...

 quoted the leader of the UDA
Union for Democratic Action
The Union for Democratic Action was an American political organization advocating liberal policies and the preservation and extension of democratic values domestically and overseas...

, the predecessor of the politically progressive ADA
Americans for Democratic Action
Americans for Democratic Action is an American political organization advocating progressive policies. ADA works for social and economic justice through lobbying, grassroots organizing, research and supporting progressive candidates.-History:...

, who stated that "an alliance between liberals and Communists [would] betray liberalism's bedrock democratic values." Characterizing himself as neither "left" nor "right" but anti-"tyranny", Haynes cited as evidence of Schrecker's illiberalism her statement that "cold war liberalism did not, in fact, 'get it right.'" Schrecker has been criticized by Trotskyites for being excessively concerned for the reputations of persons connected with the Stalin-supporting Communist Party USA
Communist Party USA
The Communist Party USA is a Marxist political party in the United States, established in 1919. It has a long, complex history that is closely related to the histories of similar communist parties worldwide and the U.S. labor movement....

, noting that the CPUSA supported the US government's prosecution of Trotskyites under the Smith Act
Smith Act
The Alien Registration Act or Smith Act of 1940 is a United States federal statute that set criminal penalties for advocating the overthrow of the U.S...

 and, in general, persecuted socialists who did not support Stalin's regime.

Schrecker has also been outspoken with respect to contemporary issues, describing the Academic Bill of Rights
Academic Bill of Rights
The Academic Bill of Rights is a document created and distributed by Students for Academic Freedom, a public advocacy group spun off from the Center for the Study of Popular Culture, a think tank founded by former progressive, now conservative activist and writer David Horowitz...

 movement as "worse than McCarthy", and arguing that the University of Southern Florida's 2003 dismissal of Sami Al-Arian
Sami Al-Arian
Dr. Sami Amin Al-Arian , is a former resident of Temple Terrace, Florida, now living in Northern Virginia, who is a Muslim activist, and former University of South Florida professor of computer engineering...

 following his federal indictment for supporting terrorism is an example of contemporary McCarthyism. On March 2, 2006, Al-Arian entered a guilty plea to a charge of conspiracy to help the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a "specially designated terrorist
Specially Designated Terrorist
A Specially Designated Terrorist is any person who is determined by the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury to be a specially designated terrorist under notices or regulations issued by the Office of Foreign Assets Control ....

" organization; he was sentenced to 57 months in prison, and ordered deported following his prison term.

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