In 1692 and 1693 there were a series of trials in Massachusetts for people accused of witchcraft. More than 200 people were accused, and nineteen were found guilty and executed. Another person was tortured to death for refusing to plead guilty or innocent. It was perhaps the most notorious case of mass hysteria in American history.
Last evening, on television, I looked into the face of Salem. A young woman, attractive, well educated, probably affluent, spoke as a representative of the more than 1,800 alumni and dozens of faculty at St. Lawrence University who are demanding that an honorary degree granted to Senator Susan Collins be rescinded as punishment for Senator Collins’ vote to confirm Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
This young woman was adamant in her insistence that Christine Ford was obviously telling a true story and that Brett Kavanaugh was a proven sexual predator. She believes that any person who doubted Ford’s story and believed Kavanaugh obviously lacks integrity and does not support truth and justice for victims of sexual assault and violence.
What about those millions of Americans who had some difficulty in believing Christine Ford’s version of events? It appears that in this young woman’s view, those people who doubt Christine are very much like Martha Corey of 1693 Massachusetts. Martha had some concerns about the truth of witchcraft accusations, and when she voiced her skepticism she was also accused of witchcraft and executed. Her husband, who stood by her, died under torture. I had the distinct impression that this St. Lawrence alumnus would like to hang anyone who disagreed with her.
Today we are witnessing another instance of mass hysteria, and It is much more dangerous than the Salem witch trials. Fueled in part by their hatred of President Trump, the unhinged zealots of the extreme left have abandoned any adherence to reason and civility in political discourse. Let us pray that we can get things under control.