Tuesday, October 15, 2013

witch hunts then and now

If you use the term witch hunt today most people will immediately think not of actual witches but of the McCarthyite “witch hunts” against communism in the late 40s and early 50s. It’s a subject that liberals get terribly excited about. To hear them talk you’d imagine this was a persecution on a scale hitherto unprecedented in western civilisation.

There are several ironies about this. The most obvious of course is that having gained real large-scale political power liberals are now far more enthusiastic, and zealous, witch hunters than Joseph McCarthy.

The other irony is that modern liberal-sponsored witch hunts are actually far more deserving of the term than the activities of McCarthy and his allies. Both McCarthy’s Senate committee and the House Committee on Un-American Activities were investigating  something real and tangible. There really were communists in Hollywood, in the US military and in the State Department. Many of the communists in the State Department were actual Soviet spies. They really did undermine US foreign policy, playing a significant role in ensuring that the US took no effective action to prevent the takeover of China by the  communists. Both HUAC and McCarthy’s committee were looking for actual evidence.

The witch hunts in the 16th and 17th centuries were very different. The witch hunters of that era were unconcerned with anything resembling hard evidence. If you were accused of witchcraft you quickly came to realise that the onus was on you to prove your innocence.

Modern liberal witch hunts against racism, sexism and all the other sins that obsess the political Left are equally unconcerned with actual evidence. If an accusation is made against you you will soon discover that it is very foolish indeed to believe that any presumption of innocence will help you. Even worse you are likely to find that the government or quasi-government agency conducting the investigations does not function like a court of law with any of the protections offered by such a court. More disturbingly you will find that even if you are brought before a court the protections that have been taken for granted have been whittled away. You cannot even rely on the most fundamental of all protections against government persecution of the individual, the concept of double jeopardy.

Hate crimes legislation is undermining all our most important rights, and this is happening throughout the Anglophone world. If you want something to be afraid of this is it. This is the big one.

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