Cartoon: © Jeff Darcy, Cleveland.com
By now I’ve grown accustomed to historians and other scholars appearing on TV rolling their eyes and furrowing their brows when asked to address President Trump’s increasingly obvious ignorance of American history and the traditions of the office that he holds.
Apparently, sealed in the isolation of Trump Tower and cushioned by bales of cash inherited from dad, our present commander in chief never felt the need to crack a book or otherwise prepare for the office he holds. This used to be expected of American presidents.
While Trump insinuated for years that he had an MBA from the acclaimed Wharton School, he never attended a day of grad school. By one account, his undergrad time at Wharton was not exactly distinguished:
“Several of his classmates gave a mixed account of his time there but stated that he didn’t seem to be much of an intellectual man – opting to leave the campus over the weekend to go back to New York. When he was there, he didn’t study a lot according to Wharton graduate Louis Calomaris, saying he did not ‘seem to care about being prepared. Don was loath to really study much’.” Sounds familiar.
But I’m particularly offended by Trump’s constant assertion that the multiple investigations of his campaign aimed at whether his campaign colluded with or benefited from Russian sabotage of the U.S. election amount to a witch hunt.
I learned through some genealogical research that the first alleged ‘witch’ to feel the noose around her neck at Salem Village in 1692, was my ancestor Bridget Playfer. A couple of months later, my eighth Great Grandmother, Mary Towne Estey, was loaded in an oxcart with other convicted ‘witches’ and taken to the recently re-discovered village hanging site.
Kim Hunter played to role of Mary Estey in the movie, “Three Sovereigns for Sarah”
History reveals that there were many motives that led to the witch accusations, trials and the imprisonment or execution of those who were convicted. Hysterical adolescent girls found accusing older and more established members of the community, such as Mary Estey, to be a road, at least temporarily, to power. Older people used the accusations as a way to settle longstanding disputes over property or to get revenge for personal grievances. Poverty stricken and/or eccentric widows were particularly subject to accusations of witchery.
More exotic theories suggest that contamination of food supplies led to what in hindsight appears to be the collective attack of insanity in Salem.
After the mania subsided, there was plenty of shame and repenting by those who were involved. Some avoided talking about the subject for decades. Judge Samuel Sewall, who had a hand in sending the convicted ‘witches’ to the gallows, wore a hair shirt of repentance for the rest of his life.
Salem Village, Massachusetts changed its name to Danvers, in an effort to live down its notoriety.
What Trump either doesn’t comprehend or is using as a cynical distraction is that those people in Salem were not proven guilty by any rational investigation, but sent to their fate by ignorance and superstition.
Despite his best efforts to deflect from the alleged Trump campaign-Russia ties, the multiple investigations now underway should come up with the findings—yes or no— due to the American people.
Meanwhile, can you imagine Donald J. Trump repenting, apologizing or wearing a hair shirt? I thought not.
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