Miriam Moskowitz: A Victim of McCarthyism Speaks Out
Let’s take a quantum leap backwards – to the early 1950’s.
“Are you or have you ever been a member of the communist party?”
That question along with the vague yet terrifying explanation being given for the federal arrests of many during this period simply put as; “You are under arrest for conspiracy to obstruct justice.”
What does that even mean?
Those who were being arrested never knew either – in fact, many of them had not actually ever committed a crime. Many of them were arrested merely because of their personal associations, religions, cultural beliefs and sympathies – an example of the increasingly paranoid post war times of the late 1940’s and 1950’s – the beginning of the Cold War.
In July of 1950, Miriam Moskowitz and her employer and friend Abraham Brothman were arrested by the FBI for that same aforementioned reason. They also had no idea what it meant.
They were followed for days prior to their arrest – no matter where they were, by car, by subway or on foot. The FBI agents attempted to make no secrets of themselves in their desire to unnerve Miriam and Abraham – to give them a sense of guilt for a reason they are unaware of.
Miriam and Abraham were the victims of what would become known as McCarthyism. This was the regular practice of making accusations of disloyalty, subversion, or treason without proper evidence. It became known in the United States as the Second Red Scare.
From 1950-1954 Senator Joseph McCarthy, with J. Edgar Hoover as the head of the FBI, conditioned the country to be on the lookout for the heavy influence of communism and espionage by Soviet agents.
Miriam and Abraham’s arrest was wrought with undertones of the government’s false accusations of espionage against them.
It is believed that this was the precursor to the famed Rosenberg trial of the same period. Miriam served in prison for two years, was forced to pay a fine of $10,000 (a lofty amount at that time) and was continuously harassed by the FBI for more than a decade after her release.
Miriam, now 96, has written a book about her falling victim to the corrupt practitioners of the country’s Cold War judicial system entitled Phantom Spies, Phantom Justice which detail her experiences and the years of embarrassment she endured after her imprisonment.Continued on the next page