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Trump knows nothing of witch hunts

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Being a witch is one of the things President Trump has not been accused of. Photo: Reuters

US President Donald Trump’s refrain that he is victim of a witch hunt falls short when considered in their historical context, writes Philip C. Almond.

Since his inauguration on January 20, 2017, US President Donald Trump has tweeted the words “Witch Hunt” (always with or in capitals) 337 times, or roughly once every three days in his presidency.

As the US Senate’s impeachment trial looms, it is timely to place witch hunts into some historical perspective.

Although the term did not come into common usage until the 1950s — when Arthur Miller wrote his play The Crucible — it refers to the witchcraft persecutions that took place in Europe and America from around 1450 to 1750.

The victims have sometimes been estimated at up to ninemillion, but modern estimates put the total number

in Europe across 300 years as somewhere between 40,000 and 100,000. Although some men were accused and executed,

the victims of the witch hunts were mainly women, often socially and economically marginalised.

Although there are significant variations across countries and regions, the incidence of women among those prosecuted runs at about 75%-80%. In the Salem witch trials in Massachusetts in 1692–3, around 78% of those accused and convicted were women.

The Salem trials are the only witch trials to which Trump has specifically referred and he has judged them as affording the defendants more proper judicial process than him. By the end of the trials, 19 people had been hanged, one man was pressed to death with heavy stones, and several had died in prison.

Nearly 200 people were accused of practising demonic magic. It is unlikely any........

© Otago Daily Times