Would anyone today be surprised if a Democratic politician stood up in a midsize city, held up a piece of paper, and bellowed “I have here on this piece of paper a list of 50 racists in the State Department” or some other institution?
Like the Red Scare of the 1950s, those who stand to benefit the most in power, attention, or money, have taken a legitimate social concern and exploded it into a mob fueled witch hunt.
Unlike the Red Scare, however, there is no international threat from a foreign power directly fueling fear. There is no actual conspiracy to infiltrate racists into the halls of power as the Soviets succeeded in doing in Britain and the United States before, during, and after World War II.
The Red Scare terrified Americans into forcing suspect people out of work or into compliance. Corporations, fearful of appearing Communist, tried to look as apple pie American as possible. The Cincinnati Reds even briefly changed their name to Red Stockings to signal that they were, in fact, not “Reds” of the Communist ilk. Of course no sane person would assume the first Major League Baseball club would hold secret socialist sympathies, but in those days, you could not be too sure.
This century’s first scare has not occurred because of a secret racist cabal or rampant anti-majority hatred that threatens America. Unfortunately, a large section of the nation has ramped up the most evil American tradition that has survived into modern times.
The witch hunt of the Year of Our Lord 2020 was not inspired by national hatred of minorities so much as from the actions of a small percentage of individual knuckleheads in positions of social authority abusing their sacred mission to protect and to serve.
From centuries deep in our history comes the societal nausea known as the witch hunt. Only a generation after being nearly annihilated during King Philip’s War and avoiding royal domination through the Glorious Revolution, Puritan New England struggled to find its footing as the 1700s approached. Colonial authorities also sensed a loss of control as Anglican business minded individuals flooded into the area seeking an opportunity.
Puritan authorities saw Satanic influence behind every piece of bad fortune that struck the colonies directly or indirectly. After a devastating war and fear of the designs of James II, they were willing and ready to see the Devil everywhere.
It was in these still dark and uncertain days that a group of hysterical and ignorant girls claimed to see witchery in the odd behavior of a few eccentric women.
They should have known better. They should not have allowed the shrieks and cries of ignorant and mentally ill young women to drive them into tortures, executions, and the creation of a climate of fear.
Unfortunately, they set a precedent for American culture to periodically turn on itself in purges of the impure. Reasonable concerns turn to unreasonable terror. The issue of the day becomes weaponized for use against not only actual malefactors, but even those who simply disagree on what must be done to solve the issue. Refusing to follow the Puritans into extreme measures to rid Salem of witches means that the individual must him or herself serve the Devil.
Historian David Hackett Fisher identified several “seeds” of American culture transported from Britain to the United States, Puritan migration serving as one such source. His painstaking and thorough work shows how each “seed” matured into a dominant force in many geographical areas and parts of American culture.
The collectivist Puritan ideal exists in the American cultural strain alongside those elements that emphasize individual freedom and natural rights. Its ideals, ethics, and social punishment tactics live on as well, usually lurking in the background like a Lovecraftian beast.
Only so often does Cthulu come out to play and wreak havoc, but the social consequences are always traumatic.
A Vermont teacher calling for a Martin Luther King Jr. style color blind approach was stripped of her job.
NASCAR fans found themselves in the stocks briefly until the FBI revealed that an object originally described as a noose meant to intimidate a black driver turned out to be common equipment.
Meanwhile, hysterical children roam the streets looking for history to destroy. In their mindless, but often college-educated foolishness, they target symbols of individuals such as Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant. Their time in school taught them nothing of the true study of history and created no intellectual discipline, as well as saddling them with huge debt and few marketable skills.
So they channel their fears, doubts, and resentment against a society that preached the false god of a college degree and ruined their financial lives.
It’s easy to forget, but George Floyd’s tragic death came on the heels of revelations of potential serious misconduct against the federal investigators of Michael Flynn. Conservatives and liberals alike agreed that some elements of the law enforcement community could abuse their power to take down anyone they desired and all called for intelligent ideas on reform.
The onset of hysteria and violence ruined a golden opportunity for a bipartisan solution as political players retreated to familiar positions that promised more debate and no solutions.
So here we are in the summer of 2020, eyeing a national election with a dread not seen since 1860. Hysteria has turned Americans on each other. Cities live in fear of what is coming next.
When will someone stand up and mouth the famous words of Army counsel Joseph Welch, who stood up to the Grand Inquisitor of the 1950s to say:
"Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness. Let us not assassinate this lad further, senator. You have done enough. Have you no sense of decency?"
It is past time to send the children back to their homes and classes with that question “have you no sense of decency” ringing in their ears.