Salem Witch Hunts And McCarthy Hearings

– Contrast Essay, Research Paper

Does history repeat itself? Lots of people think that the McCarthy hearings of the 1950s are a repeat of history from the Salem witch-hunts of 1692. All of the accusations were false, and also fictitious. The main reason people were blamed was so that ones who were condemning would receive their own personal gain. Both parties (McCarthy and the girls in Salem) accused people to make themselves look better to others and gain respect. They both gained respect from others, which was something they did not have a lot of, especially the girls of Salem, Massachusetts. In 1692, people blamed of being witches were used as scapegoats for society?s problems, and then again in 1950, those blamed of being communists were used as scapegoats for society?s problems. In the long run, both cases were worthless except for the lessons that it may teach those who look back at the awful experiences. Many people were killed in the diminutive town of Salem and the ones who weren?t killed had their reputations forever lowered. Everyone who was charged by Joseph McCarthy had his or her own reputation diminished also. All of this would have never happened if the people, who were involved, would have only opened their blinded eyes and saw the truth, which lied right in front of their faces.

One night in the minute New England town of Salem, Massachusetts, three young girls and a slave from Barbados were caught dancing naked in the forest around an immense kettle. This wasn?t something that girls normally did in the 1600s and was also socially unacceptable. These girls, Abigail Williams, Betty Parris, Mercy Lewis, and Tituba were immediately accused of being witches just because they were dancing. To get themselves off the hook, the girls pointed their fingers at other women in the town of practicing witchcraft. They indicted some women because their names popped into their heads, but one particular girl, Abigail Williams, accused a woman named Elizabeth Proctor because she had lust for her husband, John Proctor. Abigail Williams and John Proctor had already had an affair. However, unlike Abigail, John wanted to leave that horrible mistake in the past and forget about her. Abigail also did not like other women in Salem because they called her names. They knew of her lust for men, so Abigail took the initiative and they were also charged. What seemed like a harmless dance in the woods, resulted in the death of twenty innocent people. Nineteen were hung and the other one had his head crushed in. Not everyone who was accused died though. Everyone who had been accused had two possible choices. These options were to either plead guilty and live with a damaged reputation, or plead not guilty and die a horrible death. If one lived, their name would be ruined forever. All personal respect would be lost along with that of the community. If one died, they would no longer be able to cherish the life that was given to them, but their name would be forever known as a good name. They would also be able to go to heaven because they had not lied.

In Wheeling, West Virginia, a man named Joseph McCarthy accused two hundred and five people of being communists in the early 1950s. He was a senator, and thought that by indicting people of being communists would make him look good and gain more political power and respect. (Communists are just like the witches of the 1600s. People did not like them and were also afraid of them.) Many people had respect for him. However, like the witch-hunts, no one accused was really guilty. All of the two hundred and five people were innocent of being communists and none of them were ever convicted. However, they did lose what was once a good reputation.

The Salem witch trials were not taken about in a fair way. None of the accused victims were given a fair trial. All of the proof that Abigail and the other girls had been so unreasonable yet very popularly believed. She claimed to have been stuck with a needle by Elizabeth, who did so by using a technique called voodoo. She also ?saw? a bird flying in the air that never really was there. If the judge and the other authoritive adults had really seen what was going on and were not so blind to the truth which lied right in front of their eyes, then nothing would have happened to the victims who were made to look like witches. The people were so blinded about what they wanted to see and what was really there. Nothing interesting or exciting had ever gone on in the small town of Salem, and now that something had, they wanted to believe it was true just for the pure amusement that it brought. So everything that the girls said appealed to them so much, that they followed the lead and captured all the women on the list that the girls had verbally made.

The McCarthy hearings, though unfair, were more just than the Salem witch trials. No one was killed or convicted, and people had a fair trial. People had then and still do today, the right to a fair trial because of the Constitution, which wasn?t around in 1692. All of the accused may have had ruined reputations, but they could gain that back. They could always move away or get a different job. This was difficult to do when living in such a small town in the uncivilized and newly discovered United States of America. They also did not have to die and leave many loved ones behind to be grief stricken.

In conclusion, history does not always repeat itself, however, it did in this case. The Salem witch trials and the McCarthy hearings are very similar and from very different times in history. They both involved many innocent victims who were accused of being something that they were not, and was also very horrendous and repulsive to be in the day and age in which they were living. A lot of people?s lives were ruined because of a couple of foolish girls and one selfish man. Their primary goal was to look good in front of others who did not really respect them; only wanting that respect at the cost of other people?s lives. Both trials were deceitful, misleading, and ultimately unreasonable to the people who were affected by it. Let us hope that history does not repeat itself again according to Salem witch-hunts and McCarthy hearings.



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