In the 1950s, Senator Joseph McCarthy proposed the idea that there were communists in the US who were in positions of high influential power -- writers, actors, producers, politicians, etc. He decided that the best thing to do in this case was to hold trials in which these influential people would be questioned concerning their involvement in communism and would then be asked to name others who were communists. This is what was known as McCarthyism. Those who were convicted as communists were put on the "Hollywood Blacklists" and were not able to find work anywhere -- they suffered a social and political death because of it. The search for these communists was called the witch hunts. The events in 1692 in Salem, MA worked the same way but the judges were looking for witches instead of communists and instead of a social death, those convicted were actually put to death. These are the common bonds between the two.