In what ways did the Salem Witch Trials reflect the House un-Americans Comittee hearings during the 1950s? (Crucible)

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are deliberate parallels between the Salem Witchcraft Trials and the Red Scare Hearings of the 1950s.  The most overwhelming similarity between them is the problematic condition of accepting supposition and unsubstantiated fact as evidence.  In both settings, individuals were accused with little in way of evidence or actual material that would constitute as meeting an evidential burden.  Insinuation and innuendo mixed in with the advocacy of a personal agenda seemed to pass as truth.  Abigail's accusations are never really substantiated with proof, and many of the charges of Communism that McCarthy and his committee trumped up were not really valid.  Both settings preyed on the fears of the public to ensure that there would be little opposition to the agendas being advanced.  Individuals were afraid to speak out and the act of swallowing their own voices actually emboldened the aggressors.  Another similarity between both is that the accusations in both settings deflected honest and genuine reflection about social frailties as relevant dialogue became shelved in favor of "sound bytes" which passed as truth.  The citizens of Salem became so engaged in accusing one another as witches that there was a lack of reflection about the limitations of closed and narrow pursuits of the social good.  In much the same way, HUAC's labelling of individuals as "communist" deflected honest understanding about the nature of fear which permeated post World War II American Society.

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The Crucible

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