Although Joseph McCarthy was not the only factor that played into the Red Scare in the 1950's, he was the driving force behind the mass hysteria that gripped our nation as it faced its darkest days following the war. The anti-communist movement was already planted into American culture by the time that McCarthy came to prominence which is evident by the loyalty programs and security measures that were taken by our government to combat communist infiltration into our State Department. Fried contends that McCarthyism already existed in our country long before his arrival but it was his actions that brought the hysteria to a fever pitch. This era takes with it a long lasting legacy that historians have studied through the decades. One of the grimmest legacies deals with McCarthy's victims. His careful selection of these individuals sheds some light on his tactics and his motives that tried to lead him to his ultimate goal.
One of McCarthy's victims was Esther Caukin Brunauer. Brunauer devoted her entire career to the pursuit of education as she earned her M.A. and Ph.D from Stanford. She worked for the American Association of University Women, a group that attempted to obtain college educations for women. She was part of many women's groups and gained prominence because of them. In 1931, she married Stephen Brunauer, a poor immigrant from Hungary and an aspiring chemist. As a student, he briefly belonged to an organization that was a Communist front. Although he did not believe in the rhetoric, he merely joined for the companionship. These ties would later come back to haunt the both of them. Before McCarthy, their loyalty had been tested by the series of programs that were already implemented due to the Red Scare. They both passed all the tests. In response to the rise of Nazism, Esther wrote a book about collective security. It helped open the eyes of some pacifists and it helped in the rearmament of the nation.