Menu Close

Is Gitmo the new Salem?

OK, at the risk of getting myself on some Government hit list, I really want to share this.

The other day Dawn and I were watching The Majestic with Jim Carey. I really enjoyed the movie. It takes place during the McCarthyism Anti-Communism hearings.

Watching how ludicrous the hearings and investigations were depicted it made me shake my head. It reminded me of the Salem Witch Trials of 1692 America. I remember my father telling me that the real witches during those trials were the ones making the acquisitions (although not the kind of witches they were hunting for). So I figured the communists, or at least the anti-Americans (subversives, etc.) were the ones orchestrating the McCarthyism trials.

Anyway, I shook my head and thought to myself of George Santayana’s quote “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Naturally I was glad that modern America is beyond that sort of stillness.

Then I started wondering if we really were. Maybe this pattern it repeating itself. Salem didn’t invent it (look at the Spanish Inquisition), so it probably won’t end with McCarthyism. So could I think of an example today? The first thing I came up with was the detention center in Guantanamo Bay (Gitmo).

Lets look at the similarities between the three: Salem, McCarthy and Gitmo:

Salem McCarthy Gitmo
Accused called Witches Accused called Communists Accused called enemy combatants
All three labels are designed to trigger hate and fear from the public at large. Just having the label attached is a conviction as to deny was seen as a sign of guilt. Basic rights are waived because of the label. The accused were given an opportunity to turn others in to save their own skin.
Part of the Puritan’s war on Satan / Evil Part of the US war against The Communism Party (which organized unions!) Part of the US War on Terror
Many accusers apologized when they realized their errors (after the fact). Most punishments were later overturned, etc. Yet to be seen.

In researching this I discovered I am by far not the first to draw these parallels which is not surprising. I was surprised to find out that considering this now makes me a Liberal Democrat. Hmm . . . interesting.