Witch hunting is back
Tuesday, 8 November 2022 4:18 pm
This antiquarian volume got an extended mention on an SBS program recently, in the context of a documentary segment on mediaeval witch hunts. It struck me for the first time how eerily similar that movement was to today's QAnon and related pro-Trump mythologies.
Both movements have at least this much in common:
- generated by a desire to explain negative events or trends in terms of calculated human agency
- identification of a particular social group as the enemies of the public good
- casting the battle against the alleged human scheme in spiritual terms (good vs evil, God vs Satan)
- the development of an elaborate mythology of vile plans and deeds being perpetrated by the group in question, specifically including cruelty to children
- disregard for any evidence against, or absence of evidence for, the proposition
- a belief that the incarceration and even execution of said people would be just, a social good, and the ultimate mark of victory; and
- scariest of all - the allegiance of significant numbers of Christian believers to the cause, based on a populist dualist political theology of good and evil (see ‘3’ above)
Donald Trump has quite a way with irony. Not as a satirist observing irony. Rather as irony incarnate. Here is but one more instance of such. Far from being a victim of a witch hunt as he regularly claims, the populist movement of allegiance to himself suggests that mediaeval witch hunts are back.
Malleus Maleficarum would make good reading for Trumpists