mediaeval witch hunt 2022

Witch hunting is back

Tuesday 8 November 2022 3:18 PM

Malleus Maleficarum

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:

  1. generated by a desire to explain negative events or trends in terms of calculated human agency 
  2. identification of a particular social group as the enemies of the public good
  3. casting the battle against the alleged human scheme in spiritual terms (good vs evil, God vs Satan)
  4. the development of an elaborate mythology of vile plans and deeds being perpetrated by the group in question, specifically including cruelty to children
  5. disregard for any evidence against, or absence of evidence for, the proposition
  6. a belief that the incarceration and even execution of said people would be just, a social good, and the ultimate mark of victory; and 
  7. 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