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Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Salem witch hunt

Here's an American history lesson to remember: Persecution of people is not a good thing. That wouldn't seem hard to forget, but some people have thick skulls and small brains, walking proof for the theory of de-evolution. Interesting article on Salem witch hunts in The Telegraph:

Spectral apparitions, red rats and talking cats; a community threatened by unseen demonic powers; and finally, a collective hysteria that left hundreds unjustly accused, and almost two dozen innocent victims hanging from the town's gallows: it is not hard to see why the witches of Salem - the Massachusetts village 17 miles north of Boston - have constituted a troubling presence in America's otherwise generally sunny, go-getting historical consciousness. Within a few years of the event, the great "witch-hunt" of 1692 was already regarded, almost embarrassingly, as the dark side of the Pilgrim Fathers' zealous puritan piety; a nasty blot of medieval superstition on the decent copybook of God-fearing American rationality. Little wonder that Arthur Miller reworked the story in his 1953 play, The Crucible, as an allegory of Senator McCarthy's anti-Communist witch-hunts, then sweeping the US. And, of course, it is Miller's version of those events with which we are most familiar. Yet, as Richard Francis ably demonstrates in this new book, the historical truth was even stranger - and no less dramatic - than Miller's fiction. The events at Salem constituted not simply a self-contained outburst of irrationality, Francis argues, but a defining moment in the history of early America: one in which can be discerned both the demons of the puritan past (the preoccupation of the Miller play), and also the harbingers of "modernity" - of a new, and far more sceptical attitude within the colony to the values and prejudices of the first generation of New Englanders.
This reminds me of something...Something more recent...The treatment of prisoners, including young children raped and people beaten to death at Abu Ghraib? Nasty blot there. Michelle Malkin's defense of racism? Possibly. The glorification of the shooting death of an innocent electrician on a London subway? Maybe. The second-class citizenship for gay people? The disrespect shown to people of no faith or to Wiccans and people of other faiths besides Christianity? Hmmm. An abundance of riches for future embarrassments and "nasty blots" on our national heritage.

6 Comments:

Blogger Carnacki said...

Was that too angry?

8/17/2005 10:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8/17/2005 10:36:00 PM  
Blogger protected static said...

Too angry? Not by my standards... But I think you might need to spend some time @ Kos or Booman or MLW to vent ;)

8/18/2005 12:54:00 AM  
Blogger protected static said...

Whoops... I see you already have.

8/18/2005 01:02:00 AM  
Blogger Curt said...

The Salem witch angle brings it sufficiently on-topic, I think. We really are repeating history in some awful ways right now, I think. In its conduct of the Iraq fiasco and marginalization of gays, the right seems to have learned nothing from Vietnam or its history on black issues.

8/18/2005 09:23:00 AM  
Blogger Tim said...

thanks for directing me here from Americablog.com. Enjoyed what you wrote.

8/19/2005 11:34:00 PM  

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