Salem Witch Museum News
Six Women of Salem: The Untold Story of the Accused and their Accusers in the Salem Witch Trials
Date: October 3, 2013
Time: 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm
For reservations email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Or call: 978.744.1692
Where: Salem Witch Museum 19 ½ Washington Square North Salem, MA 01970
In Six Women of Salem: The Untold Story of the Accused and their Accusers in the Salem Witch Trials, author and historian, Marilynne K. Roach chronicles the lives of six specific women involved in the witch hunt who represent the accusers, the accused, or both, and uses their unique stories to illuminate the larger crisis of the trials. Roach works to reconstruct the events of the trials, bringing to life this representative group of women, and examines the entire experience of the Salem Witch Trials through the eyes of those who lived through the hysteria and delivers a historically intimate narrative that gives readers a front row seat to this desperate and dangerous time in history. Marilynne K. Roach works as both a historian and illustrator. Her illustrations, how-to articles, and travel pieces have been featured in the Boston Globe. She’s lectured to groups ranging in age from kindergarteners to senior citizens, and is the author of the classic The Salem Witch Trials: A Day-by-Day Chronicle of a Community Under Siege.
Last year Kemal Argon, a contributor to Huffington Post, wondered What Can The Salem Witch Museum Teach American Muslims? . Yet this spring after the Boston Marathon bombing a few of our staff, reeling with the aftermath of the horrific events so close to home and family, expressed apprehension about discussing religious, cultural, sexual, gender and racial tolerance in our second exhibit.
Fear + Trigger = Scapegoat
Our second exhibit Witches Evolving Perceptions looks at the evolution of folklore and stereotypes that lead to scapegoating, especially of those accused of witchcraft in Essex County 1692. The formula for a witch hunt fits to explain other scapegoating events, for example the McCarthy hearings in the United States in the 1950’s.
Salem 1692 Fear: God/Devil Trigger: Dr. Griggs Scapegoats: 150 Townspeople
Japanese-American Internment 1942 Fear: Imperial Japan Trigger: Pearl Harbor Scapegoats: 100,000 +/- Japanese Americans put in internment camps
McCarthyism ~1950-1956 Fear: Communism Trigger: HUAC / Senator Joseph McCarthy Scapegoats: Blacklisted citizens
AIDS Epidemic Outbreak 1980’s Fear: Infection Trigger: HIV/AIDS Scapegoats: Gay community
There are many other examples of witch hunting in the United States and elsewhere in the world throughout history. Using the formula, it could be said that the treatment of law abiding Muslim-Americans as terrorists in a post-9/11 environment certainly follows.
When the Boston Marathon bombing occurred this spring, one unforeseen result was that tourists visiting the city were rerouted elsewhere, including to Salem; the Salem Witch Museum hosted several unscheduled tour groups, even as the Boston police were chasing down the suspects, and most people in the area were single-minded in their concern. It was a surreal day where citizens of the metro Boston area were unified in prayer of sorts, while political and social tensions were escalating.
A couple members of our staff struggled with discussing tolerance in our second exhibit that day. While there were those who felt that Muslims as a whole should not be allowed to immigrate to the United States, others believed that this was the precisely the time to hold fast to our commitment to teach the lessons of intolerance.
To address the conflict, staff members researched various media for a broad sample of opinions on the subject of Muslims in America: some pro, some con. We realized that this complicated issue brought to mind the very real conflict between our moral ideals and our naturally occurring human fears and prejudices.
Today as much as in 1692. We found the research and following discussions somewhat unsatisfying, as none of the opinions expressed were coming from the very people whose presence in our midst we were examining. Museum director, Tina Jordan, reached out to our Education Director Emerita, Alison D'Amario, to help us get a more personal view of the issue. Alison has taught English at the Immigrant Learning Center, Malden, MA through which she's been afforded a genuine familiarity with - unedited by mass media - the daily lives and stories of people, including Muslims, who have decided to live in the United States.
. . . . . to be continued. . . . .
In part II, we'll recap a moving evening of discussion on the topic of the treatment of Muslims in the Boston area after the fateful marathon bombing of this spring.