salem witch hunts

History of Witchcraft in Early America

If anyone wants the documents we use for this class message me

Books: 

  • The Salem Witch Hunt: A Brief History with Documents by Richard Godbeer
  • The Devil in the Shape of a Woman (1987 or 1998 ed.) by Carol Karlsen
  • In the Devil’s Snare: The Salem Witchcraft Crisis of 1692 (2002 or 2003 ed.) by Mary Beth Norton
On Exactitude

Once again I have put my foot in it.  Let’s start here:

“If you mean the cast is primarily white, it’s the 40s. Which is more offensive to you: black help and blacks in service, or no blacks? I would like to see more POC, yes, but that was the time, and I’m not sure I’d like to see more POC if they’re always going to be in service.”

My meaning was that up till that point Agent Carter takes place in a boarding house, an office building, occasionally at an Automat, on barren streets, and in warehouse-and-dock land.  My memory is not good: was there material in a nightclub?  If so, then I apologize.  My feeling is that the show writers are straining their drawers to be accurate to history, and in this limited setting, that generally means working-class blacks.  Hate me all you want, and then find some photo books of the period.  If the show went to Harlem, Spanish Harlem, the lower East Side, the population would look very different.  The city would look very different.  But the show doesn’t show those areas.  It shows grim areas.  And so I say what went on in the period and what seems to be going on with the show and right away I am accused of racism.  While you’re at it, you could also mention the lack of presence of the Chinese, and of the Mohawk Indians who were working on the high iron of the skyscrapers of the time.  No one shows them, either.  Either the show is trying to give the audience an appreciation of the time–thus the thuggish treatment of women and the disabled–or it’s a fantasy show and should be all inclusive.

But you were looking for a racist and despite my apologies and attempts to clarifiy my views–this wasn’t my first post on this matter–you decided I was one.

Next issue.  I tried to humanize Hitler.  Yes, I did.  Guilty as charged.  In fact, I have spent my entire career writing monsters who have some aspect of humanity about them, and do you know why?  Because it’s very easy to hate a Johann Schmidt, or a Dr. Doom, a Joker, a Dr, Octopus.  That’s the Big Lie.  Jeffrey Dahmer did not look like Scarecrow.  He was a soft-spoken dreamer who liked to torture and eat his dates.  Ted Bundy did not look like Penguin.  He worked a rescue hotline next to one of the country’s best crime writers for two years and she never guessed what he did when he was supposedly going to law school.  Hitler wanted to go to art school, loved his mother, and little dogs.  He also led an entire country to commit mass murder on a scale that should have left the world unable to even IMAGINE doing such a thing again–but we didn’t.  People have to know the monsters aren’t the guys in the movies.  If my warning you that the worst monsters can seem like nice people close up teaches you to beware, I’ll take that hit.  But seeing that some of you have decided to inspect all of my posts for further thought crimes, I think the point of what I was trying to say got lost.

Article the third: Quvenzhane’s name.  I explained myself.  I apologized.  I love Ms. Wallis’s work, am delighted to see the roster of her forthcoming films, and don’t much care if you think I’m scrambling to regain racial swellness points.

Next: “There is NO reason to exclude them from this show or to claim that we shouldn’t have black people because hey, they’d only be a maid or something. Wow.”

I’m not the one excluding them.  I don’t ask they be excluded.  I would much rather see them in all their variety.  If, rather than coming unglued, you had asked me this, I would have clarified it, I would have said so.  But no one did.  It was so much more fun to scream at someone with a Name.  Which is more valuable, screaming at me or screaming at the writers?

Last of all, nomenclature.  When I was a teenager, there was a war of words on.  When I started grade school, people of one color were “coloreds” (if you were nice) and n-r if you were common or my grandfather, and people of another color were Indians.  By the time we got to high school people of one color were “black” (and proud"), and people of another color were “Native American” or “American Indian."  And then, when we were used (those of us who cared about the feelings of people of color) to the term "black,” some decided they preferred “African American,” or “Person of Color,” and the “Native Americans” are “First Nations” depending on where you are.  I still say “Black” because for me that term is fixed to the vision of people marching, of Black Panther men and women, of Angela Davis speaking then and now, their hair a proud banner, of Martin Luther King, Shirley Chisholm, Barbara Jordan, Bobbie Seale, Malcolm X, and a lot of people who brought the country forward, whether we wanted to come or not.  When someone who is actually a person of color tells me what they would like me to call them, I use that.  My mentor very emphatically prefers “black.”

Now.  I’m getting very tired of hanging out at Salem Village (one of you has issued a call for all of my posts so those that are offensive can be thrown in my face). The tendency to take something and, rather than ask for clarification for something that seems odd or wrong, to call out the troops and start collected firewood for a witch burning, is tiresome.  It hurts the friends who have gotten in touch to ask what is going on, and it reminds me that I’ve spent a lot of time trying to explain myself to people who have proved several times now that they have no interest in a conversation; they just want to burn them some witches.  I choose to go elsewhere.  To those whose work and wit I enjoyed, I apologize; the same to my friends.

The fact that so many people automatically suggest death as a punishment to any and every perceived contravention these days is frankly disturbing.

You are seriously implying that we should live in the same world as one in which a poor person stealing a loaf of bread has their head chopped off in order to deter theft in general.  There is more to humanity than black and white; “good” and “evil”.  Each human being is a product of their own multi-layered existence, and we’re supposed to be beyond such primitive reactions.  Instead of sinking to an extreme low out of a mob mentality, we need to realize that laws exist in order to prevent people from being unjustly punished over false accusations, as well as be protected from excessive cruelty.  Those laws aren’t perfect, and they are not always adhered to, but they are there to ensure that human beings are judged as human beings.  This isn’t the fucking Salem witch hunts, nor is it the Spanish Inquisition.  Stop acting so fucking barbaric.  You’re no better than the countries that think being homosexual is cause for an execution.

Our immediate, angry reaction is never the proper course of action.  Your personal level of indignation does not justify excessive punishment.