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Historical repetition is the recurrence of similar situations or events. Most people believe that historical recurrence is among the most repulsive and despicable ideas in society because it is possible to avoid it. The two terrifying instances that had a detrimental effect on a wide number of blameless people were the Salem witch trials and the devastation inflicted by McCarthyism. The incidences were created as an outcome of widespread fear and ignorance. The commonalities and contrasts seen between the two events reveal that humans have not learned from their errors, even though they occurred at varying times in the history of mankind. Since both of the events’ repercussions were terrible, humans should prevent similar events from happening.
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Similarities of Salem Witch Trials and Mccarthyism
The fear generated by bogus religious beliefs was a significant factor in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692. At the moment, a widespread perception was that Satan granted certain individuals mystical powers in return for loyalty, consequently developing witches. The witch hunt frenzy in Salem was spurred by the terror of supernatural evil powers. By the time the trials were over in 1693, 200 individuals had been charged and convicted of sorcery, 20 of whom were killed (Lombardo, 2020). John Proctor, a popular and esteemed individual in Salem who had previously been convicted of witchcraft, was instantly put in jail. An unarmed victim was murdered as a result of this neighborhood’s paranoia (Lombardo, 2020). Similarly, the McCarthy period of the 1950s was fueled by this concept of fear. Senator Joseph McCarthy is known by the name McCarthy. McCarthy prosecuted and condemned several citizens for purported communist sympathizing by leveraging American fears about communist infiltration (Balti, 2017). Individuals who were seen to have a communist motive were often dismissed from their workplaces and ostracized in both social and professional circles. The lives of numerous innocent individuals were wrecked by these two completely absurd initiatives, which were given validity by communal worries.
The rapid spread of injustice during the McCarthy period and the Salem Witch Trials was another commonality. On the ground of false allegations that they worshipped Satan, “witches” were often burned alive at the stake (Street, 2019). This is portrayed in “The Crucible,” whereby John Proctor obtains the death penalty following Mary’s accusations of witchcraft. During the Salem Witch trials, the large bulk of court hearings disregarded the lack of any proof, and several individuals were also compelled to bear the burden of being exposed to a highly defective legal system (Street, 2019). A parallel incident of state injustice unfolded during the McCarthy time. Individuals who were thought of as supporting communism were unlawfully recorded, put on occupational blacklists, and sometimes even incarcerated.
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If it were not for Salem community members advocating executions on a faith basis, numerous lives could have been spared. Individuals in Salem remain silent on those who are convicted of engaging in witchcraft (Lombardo, 2020). This attitude evokes memories of the American response to the McCarthy era prosecution of supposed communist sympathizers. America was witnessing a surge of pride in its nation in the decades following the Second World War. Parallel to Salem, citizens of American communities exhibited scorn for individuals who were a threat to the nation’s patriotic pride. Several Americans who approved the maltreatment of artists convicted of communist tendencies during the Red Scare were pulled in by the occasion.
Differences of Salem Witch Trials and Mccarthyism
The timeframe of the Salem Witch Trials and McCarthyism is one difference. McCarthyism happened between 1950 and 1954, but the Salem Witch Trials were nearly three centuries ago (Miller, 2022). In addition to the Salem Witch Trials, the McCarthyism trial put two political groups against one another and centered mostly on politics than religion. Abigail condemned folks of being witches, whilst McCarthy convicted them of being communists.
Another contrast is that some of the earliest individuals convicted of witchcraft were strangers to those convicted and participated in evil as a result of their disparities. Other individuals believed that since some of the activities that people conducted were extraordinary for them, they were linked to the devil. However, during the McCarthy period, some of the initial suspects were insiders in show business who had affiliations with a variety of individuals (Balti, 2017). Consequently, these folks were condemned for being communists because they were a part of a massive world industry.
Furthermore, the punishment for the two instances was the major difference between them. The magnitude of punishments in the era was a completely different place. In McCarthyism, if a person was in the US and was considered a communist, they could be sent to prison and get fired. Whether or not they confessed it, most of them earned a poor reputation when exiting. The penalty for being convicted of witchcraft in Salem was significantly more intense. it could cause instant death, hanging, and being burned at the stake.
Attacks against suspected witches were the center of the Salem witch trials, whereas inspections on purported communists were the centerpiece of the McCarthy era. The primary causes were similar for both incidents. McCarthyism and the Salem witch hunts had a great deal in common. These included biased prosecutions with insufficient proof to show a person’s innocence or guilt, unjustified allegations against citizens, and general terror in the public toward the accused.
- Balti, S. (2017). Trauma in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible: Between Abigail Williams’ traumatic life experiences and McCarthyist hysteria in American in the 1950s. On Trauma and Traumatic Memory, (4), 121-127.
- Lombardo, J. (2020). The Salem Witch Trials. Cavendish Square Publishing, LLC.
- Miller, T. (2022). The Crucible: McCarthyism and a Historical View of Witch Hunts. Humanities. 7(14), 58-64.
- Street, M. (2019). Reading Satan between the lines: Changing historiographical interpretations of the Salem witch trials. Teaching History, 53(1), 32-37.