Witch-Hunts, Then and Now is basically comparing how witch-hunts were handled in the year 1692, in comparison to the McCarthy era prosecutions of suspected communists. I chose this topic because I have always been interested in learning what exactly happened at the Salem witch-hunts. I have always only heard stories of the hangings and they left me curious to find out more. I also have never heard of McCarthyism and how it would relate to witch-hunts.
However, after reading and doing research on the two topics I can now compare the similarities. In the sixth century people believed in gods and goddess who were seen as the enforcers of morality, punishing wickedness and rewarding goodness. For these people who believed in the gods if for some reason they failed at something or if something bad happed to them they believed that there was some wickedness going on that caused the gods to allow these hardships to fall upon them.
Therefore in these difficult times it became easy for people to blame the wickedness that upset the gods on other members of the society, and then on witch burnings began. In McCarthyism and the Red Scare it was basically the fear of communism in the United States. McCarthyism is the exercise of making accusations of disloyalty, subversion, or treason with barely any evidence.
Witch-hunts and McCarthyism have a few things in similar as they have a few differences. In witch hunting’s people were blamed for others misfortune. For instance Bridget Bishop was charged with different losses sustained by her neighbors of their pigs, poultry, and overturning their carts. She was accused in the death of William Stacy’s child, the death of Samuel Gray’s child, and the illness of Samuel Shattuck’s child. (Nelson 1997, p.81) During the McCarthyism era thousands of Americans were accused of being communists and were subjected to harsh investigations and questioning by the government.
Many of these Americans were imprisoned, and loss of employment, even thought the suspicions of them being communists was inconclusive. Between witch hunts and McCarthyism it basically seems that whoever was wealthier or had more power had the ability to accuse or blame people that
were less fortunate for their misfortunes.
In today’s period people no longer have witch hunts. I don’t think there are any laws against a person if they want to practice witch craft. In McCarthyism now a day’s people that are accused of communism have to go through the court system and have enough evidence against them to be prosecuted for such a crime.
McCarthyism can also be synonymous with the term witch-hunt, both referring to mass hysteria and moral panic. In conclusion people used to get accused of things with basically little to no evidence. Just like in the Arthur Miller play The Crucible which used the Salem witch hunts as a metaphor for McCarthyism. The play showed that once accused a person had a slim chance of exoneration due to the foolish and circular reasoning from both the public and the leaders of their community.
Nelson, L. (1997). The human perspective. Boston, MA: Wadsworth. Mccarthyism. (2013, 08 16). Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McCarthyism
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