Part 1—The alleged contradiction which isn't: In this morning’s New York Times, Stacy Schiff is interviewed about her new book, The Witches: Salem, 1692.
(Partial disclosure: Needless to say, Cousin Elizabeth was on the scene. Fuller disclosure below.)
“More than 320 years after the panic subsided, scholars and historians have continued to dig into the archives in hopes of discovering what caused the mass paranoia,” Alexandra Alter writes in her Times report.
(Partial disclosure: Alter’s father, Jonathan Alter, has played a largely passive role in our own era’s witchcraft trials.)
Whatever! According to Alter, “the actual details” of the Salem events “were raw and unnerving” for Schiff. “She was stunned to learn how many men were charged with witchcraft, and how many of the accusations were leveled by one relative against another.”
In the following passage, Alter describes the way evidence worked at that time. That said, she's also describing the way evidence tends to work in our own world, today:
ALTER (10/26/15): Confronted with charges of supernatural activity, the accused struggled to refute spectral evidence against them. Villagers reported seeing witches taking shape as cats, wolves, boars and, frequently, yellow birds. Any alibi could be easily dismissed, as it was known that witches could be in two places at once.Or an email to the daughter of the accused! That could count as evidence too!
Women might be suspected if they moved noiselessly over creaky floorboards, had an uncommonly good sense of smell or survived a fall down stairs. Any blemish on the skin, something as small as a flea bite, could count as “the Devil’s mark.”
Sorry—we skipped three centuries there! That said, human nature and human capability don’t necessarily change a whole lot over such short chunks of time.
The nation saw that fact played out on yesterday’s Meet the Press. Hours later, they saw it played out, even more vividly, on 60 Minutes.
This morning, let’s start with Meet the Press. We were struck, but not surprised, by the question shown below, a question posed by Chuck Todd.
The question concerned Candidate Clinton’s recent appearance before a Salem-flavored tribunal. In the spirit of “no easy dismissal,” Todd asked a rather fuzzy question—a fuzzy question which kept a three-year-old framework alive:
TODD (10/25/15): Well, there was one new fact, I think, that a lot of people came away with and that was the characterization of the attack itself. And there’s always been this controversy that the White House was conflating the video issues that took place versus what happened in Benghazi that night.Todd seemed to believe he had spotted “two stories.” He also seemed to believe that this alleged fact should be troubling.
One of the emails that was turned up was an email Secretary Clinton sent—I’m going to put it up here—to her daughter Chelsea Clinton...On September 11, that night, Secretary Clinton classified it as a terrorist attack by an al Qaeda-like group.
Three days later, Secretary Clinton said this:
CLINTON (videotape): We’ve seen the heavy assault on our post in Benghazi that took the lives of those brave men. We've seen rage and violence directed at American embassies over an awful Internet video that we had nothing do with.
TODD: Did that trouble you, that there were two stories here? And does that deserve an extra line of inquiry?
In this way, he kept script alive, along with accusation. In fairness, to Todd, similar recitation of script occurred on other Sunday programs. This is what we warned you about in Friday's afternoon's post.
Which “two stories” had Todd supposedly spotted? In fact, his presentation makes little sense, unless you already understand the nature of the three-year old accusation against the vile Candidate Clinton and her hideous tool, Susan Rice.
What follows is the shifting of shapes Todd seemed to think he had spotted:
First, let’s get clear on the email the accused had sent to her daughter. In his presentation, Todd had lightly embellished its text. As shown on the screen, here’s what the email specifically said:
“Two of our officers were killed in Benghazi by an al Qaeda-like group.”
Somehow, that is supposed to contradict what Clinton said three days later, on September 14. As presented by Todd, here’s the text of that statement:
“We’ve seen the heavy assault on our post in Benghazi that took the lives of those brave men. We’ve seen rage and violence directed at American embassies over an awful Internet video that we had nothing do with.”
In Salem Village, villagers swore that they saw neighbors turn into cats. Three hundred years later, Todd thought he'd spotted another shape-shifting in that pair of statements.
Please note what Clinton actually said in those two statements. On September 11, she said one thing. She said Benghazi had been attacked “by an al Qaeda-like group.”
On September 14, she said two things. She said that people died in Benghazi as the result of “a heavy assault.” She also said that rage and violence had been directed at American embassies “over an awful Internet video.”
From that, we’re supposed to draw this conclusion:
We’re supposed to conclude that Clinton was saying, on September 14, that Benghazi was attacked because of that awful Internet video. She didn’t specifically say that, of course. We're supposed to connect a few dots.
We’re also supposed to think that this claim doesn’t make sense. More specifically, we’re supposed to think that no “al Qaeda-like group” would ever stage a heavy assault, or a killing attack, because of an Internet video.
No “al Qaeda-like group” would stage an attack because of an Internet video? On its face, that doesn’t seem to make sense. But so what? Over the past three years, this peculiar piece of illogic has lay at the heart of an accusation against several substitute witches.
As in Salem, so too today! “Any alibi” (or explanation or point of logic) can be “easily dismissed.” But uh-oh! In our press corps, as in Salem Village, certain types of charges can’t be dismissed, by the rules of the game.
Might an “al Qaeda-like group” stage an attack because of an insulting video? On its face, it’s hard to see why that couldn’t occur.
And not only that! As Clinton testified last Thursday, a member of that al Qaeda-like group claimed credit for the killing attack on September 11, citing the video as the motive! The very next day, on September 12, the group withdrew that claim.
According to Clinton, that original claim had formed the basis for her email to her daughter. Todd didn’t mention such facts as he strained to keep accusation alive.
Beyond that, we have no idea why we’re supposed to reject the idea that an al Qaeda-like group might stage an attack over that insulting video—although, as noted, Clinton didn’t make that specific claim in that September 14 statement.
In Salem, people were seen turning into cats, even into boars. Given the way our human mind works, “any alibi could be easily dismissed.”
The human mind works the same way today! Ranking liberals—like Alter’s father—have permitted these dunkings to proceed for the past twenty-three years.
We’ll discuss these modern emanations from Salem Village all week. The liberal world has accepted this destructive gong-show every step of the way.
Tomorrow: The question you haven’t seen asked
Fuller disclosure: The Reverend John Hale was right in the middle of the witchcraft trials, famously at that.
According to the leading authority on his life, “he was one of the most prominent and influential ministers associated with the witch trials, being noted as having initially supported the trials and then changing his mind and publishing a critique of them.”
As a child, Hale “witnessed the execution of Margaret Jones, the first of 15 people to be executed for witchcraft in New England,” the leading authority states. In this passage, we learn why he flipped, decades later, concerning the accusations:
WIKIPEDIA: On November 14, 1692, 17-year-old Mary Herrick accused his second wife, Sarah Noyes Hale, and the ghost of executed Mary Eastey of afflicting her, but his wife was never formally charged or arrested. A later commentator on the trials, Charles Upham, suggests that this accusation was one that helped turn public opinion to end the prosecutions, and spurred Hale’s willingness to reconsider his support of the trials.When the Reverend Hale’s own wife was accused, this may have led him to flip. Many years later, Hale achieved fame as a principal character in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible.
Miller was suggesting that the human mind hadn’t changed all that much despite the passage of years. Our leaders tend to ignore such warnings when new accusations get started.
According to David Estey, the Reverend Hale “was one of the earliest cogent critics of the trials...He deserves full recognition for speaking out as he did, regardless of his motivations.”
And sure enough! When Sarah Noyes Hale died in 1695, the Reverend Hale married Cusin Elizabeth! For the full story, just click here! Or here, on page 107.
Some families just seem to get on the right side of things! Others remain in The Village.