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From Witch-Hunt to Conspiracy Theories and Modern Forms of Exclusion: The Salem Witch Trials case

Nargiz Hajiyeva

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Micah 5:12: “And I will cut off sorceries from your hand, and you shall have no more tellers of fortunes”

[yt_dropcap type=”square” font=”” size=”14″ color=”#000″ background=”#fff” ] T [/yt_dropcap]he state of Holy Bible is a pivotal basis behind the curtain of mysterious witch trials in terms of identifying them in deep. Witchcrafts which were basically common in the American colonies such as Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Haven sparked the volcano of moral tensions amid XVII century in the colonies.

As a consequence, then the society of American colonies has been seized by the sense of trepidation of bewitchment, satanic witches, in particular, bizarre kinds of supernatural powers, but to a large extent, the focal causes of witch trials have lingered mysteriously. The paper has pointed out that there were several controversies in regard to these issues to reveal the main causes of witch trials in the American colonies. In addition, this paper scrutinizes the varied reasons why witch trials have been prosecuted in the colonies. It is undeniable fact that witchcraft can be identified as a chief example of not only the violations of human rights but also women’s rights. Throughout XVII century, it was identified as a malicious hazard against the Puritan community of the colonies, as well as positions of a local elite group.

Throughout XVII century, the widespread of witch trials sparked the seeds of moral hysteria putting forward that malignant satanic witches being worshippers of the Devil were engendering the evil-minded and ill-disposed menace to the whole Christian community in the American colonies. When it comes to identifying the main causes of witchcraft, it can be a key basis to take the certain alterations into account in the colonies. What did the demand for witchcraft stem from?! There was a different kind of reasons why people tried to deal with the sorcery and malicious activities. First and foremost, epidemic smallpox, plague, natural catastrophes, internal conflicts, wars, as well as hectic cold weather, (namely Little Ice Age). Amid that period, the residents of the colonies believed that Devil was trying to permeate into their lives and annihilate Christians, in particular, their communities. In addition, their beliefs and thoughts in Devil giving some certain people power in order to hurt others and basically in return for loyalty burnt the craze of a witch hunt.

The Salem Witch Trials started in the spring quarter of 1692, were a murky period in American history. The dark clouds caught the overhead of the Salem village when a wave of moral hysteria reached its apex point throughout the Colonial Massachusetts. More than 200 people were blamed for dealing with bewitchment; about 20 people were executed amid the term of hysteria. How do the main reasons of the trials can be considered?! – Before narrating the main point of the story, it can be better to identify the political, local, and religious contexts and origins of the Salem Witch Trials. England started the war known as King William’s war with France in its American colonies in 1689. As a result of the war, many refugees and displaced peoples were sent to the Essex County, particularly, the Salem Village (currently Danvers) located in Massachusetts Bay Colony. The widespread wave of refugees into the colony ignited the internal conflicts and animosity between local and displaced persons on Salem’s wealthy resources. Resentment against Reverend Samuel Parris, the first ordained minister of the Salem Village heightened because of his severe positions and gluttonous character. Therefore, the main origins of the trials premised on the attacks from neighbouring American tribes, personal differences, long-lasting disputes with the well-off society of Salem Town (presently Salem).

According to religious background, first and foremost, it might be a central part to take into account the insensitive realities of the Puritans’ lives in the community. The majority of Conservative Puritans secular leaders among local people in the village manipulated by Calvinism were opposing to traditions of the Protestant Church of England. The Puritans held the opinions that the main root of the simmering tensions and quarrelling within society as a Devil’s toil.

The event started with the afflictions of the two youngsters; Elizabeth Parris at 9 ages, and Abigail Williams at 11 ages, who was a daughter and a niece of Reverend Samuel Parris respectively. The two girls having fit madly screamed, exhibited weird sounds and distorted themselves into bizarre episodes. Shortly after, the same positions such as contortions, convulsions were experienced firstly by Ann Putnam, at 11 ages, and then other girls of the village. The event ignited the mass hysteria and moral panic among people. Eventually, a local doctor William Griggs was unable to reveal any kind of physical diseases, and then put “the bewitchment diagnosis on the afflicted maidens. The girls began to charge three women in bewitching them; the Elizabeth’s Caribbean slave, Tituba, a homeless vagrant, Sarah Good, and an older poor woman, Sarah Osbourne.

Afterwards, three women charged in witchcraft were arrested and questioned. During the investigation, the two women, Sarah Good, and Sarah Osbourne denied their deal with witchcraft and manifested themselves as an innocent, but Tituba made a scandalous acknowledgment that she had been engaged in the work of Satan along with two women aforementioned above: “The Devil came to me and bid me serve him” . After that, three women were put in jail. Ostensibly, the craze of witchcraft among the conservative Puritans in the Salem village sparked aggression and resentment against anyone who was alleged in charging with witchcraft. Shortly after, in order to examine and question people who were suspected of dealing with witchcraft, William Phips appointed to the newly minister position conveyed the foundation of a special court of Oyer (to question) and Terminer (to determine).

The first conviction of the court’s investigation was an older woman Bridget Bishop known as her bizarre habits and promiscuity claimed that she was an innocent as a child unborn, after that she was hanged in July of the same year at Gallows Hill who was an initial victim of the witch trials then.   During the severe trials, many people were executed, some were put in jail, and other people were sent to hang at Gallows Hill. The trials of many people engender the sense of fear among colonists that many innocent people were being annihilated as a result of “spectral facts”.

Local rulers started to pursue their stances against witch hunt and tended to convince local officials to suspend the trials against people. Hence, the conducting of trials resulted in the dissolving of the court of Oyer and Terminer by Governor William Phipps, and consequently, the use of ghostlike proof was declared unacceptable. After the disbanding of the courts, William Phipps ordered to establish a Superior Court of Judicature not allowing to the “spectral evidence”. As a consequence, at the beginning of the 1700s, the newly established court re-establish the good names of the condemned people, released many innocent people and granted financial restitution to their heirs, but indeed, acrimony and harsh realities lingered in the society and kept its hectic influences into XX century.

In conclusion, it is undeniable fact that the Salem Witch Trials were one of the severe trials against human rights in the history of mankind. In XX century, Historians preferred to base the trials in varied contexts. Some analysts and scientists were attracted by the pivotal causes of the trials for a long time and tried to find out the origins of the abnormal behaviours and positions experienced in the Salem village and focused on the severe effects of fungus ergot, hence eating ergot-contaminated foods could cause nausea, hallucinations, and exhibition of peculiar positions. Other scholars hold the opinion that the term of abnormally cold weather conditions destroyed many crops that lead to crops failures, in the society. Although, the Salem Witch Trials was over, it kept its severe effects on people for a long time. In 1953, Arthur Miller shed a light on the Salem Witch Trials and dramatized the 1692 events in his play titled “Crucible”. In his play, he used the trials as a metaphor for the McCarthyism paranoia performed anti-Communist positions, by Senator Joseph McCarthy. Thereby, this paper mainly identifies that the execution against innocent people is inadmissible that took many lives during the term of mass hysteria, in order that the Salem Witch Trials as a concrete indicator of violations of human rights, confessed the persecution of many innocent people alleged in witchcraft, and to date, the main reasons of the trials remained unknown.

Ms. Nargiz Hajiyeva is an independent researcher from Azerbaijan. She is an honored graduate student of Vytautas Magnus University and Institute D'etudes de Politique de Grenoble, Sciences PO. She got a Bachelor degree with the distinction diploma at Baku State University from International Relations and Diplomacy programme. Her main research fields concern on international security and foreign policy issues, energy security, cultural and political history, global political economy and international public law. She worked as an independent researcher at Corvinus University of Budapest, Cold War History Research Center. She is a successful participator of International Student Essay Contest, Stimson Institute, titled “how to prevent the proliferation of the world's most dangerous weapons”, held by Harvard University, Harvard Kennedy School and an honored alumnus of European Academy of Diplomacy in Warsaw Poland. Between 2014 and 2015, she worked as a Chief Adviser and First Responsible Chairman in International and Legal Affairs at the Executive Power of Ganja. At that time, she was defined to the position of Chief Economist at the Heydar Aliyev Center. In 2017, Ms. Hajiyeva has worked as an independent diplomatic researcher at International Relations Institute of Prague under the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Czech Republic. Currently, she is pursuing her doctoral studies in Political Sciences and International Relations programme in Istanbul, Turkey.

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New Social Compact

Finally diagnosed with Bipolar and understanding God’s purpose for my life

Abigail George

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I’ve outlasted a lot of things. I’m over 35. I am nearing 40 years of age. I’ve made mistakes and lived with regret but I don’t anymore. And I’m finally able to make peace with the mistakes I’ve made in my past.

I can forgive someone who brought me pain. The suicidal thoughts that I’ve manages to overcome. I think of our happy my parents were in my childhood. I think of every childhood experience as happy except the memories brought back to me of apartheid. I don’t have to tell myself anymore, you can make it. By the grace and mercy of God, I’ve survived. And it is God that has outlasted my storms.

So for the millions of people out there who have been diagnosed with a mental illness or have a loved one living with a mental illness, be brave. You are going to get through this storm. You’re a fighter.

You’re going to make it and when you come out on the other side, talk about it, or write about your survival, tell someone about it, become a storyteller, or give your testimony. You might save a life in the same way yours was saved.

As I write this I think of Robert Lowell, Anne Sexton, Sylvia Plath and being fake-happy. Pretending to love being alone and not being the proper example of a good daughter. You want someone to love you until the end of time. I want someone to love until the end of time. I want people to love me. To remember me. In some way I want to belong to the world. I grew up with a narcissistic mother who passed this trait to her only son and middle daughter. That and beauty. That and arrogance.

But beauty fades like fast cars. It’s just tears I tell myself.

Tomorrow I’d have forgotten about them. Anticipating waves or the vibrations of depression does nothing for the way you look on the outside. It is all for you. I do it, I write it for you. I don’t know who you are. I just know that you accept me for who I am. I’m growing older and in the blue-dark I can’t see that I am growing older. All I do, the poetry, the writing is for you. I’m selfish that way, I guess.

I don’t want happiness. I just want a brave personality. That and the writing is what gets me through the hours, the day, the night. And sometimes I try very hard through the tears not to even think of going there. Of letting go. Sometimes I think I love this world too much. I love you, the Reader. I do love you. Perhaps in the end you’re the only thing that’s keeping the chemicals from balancing me the right way up. It’s all for you the Reader. Everything that I’ve ever written. You’re the assignment. Perhaps you’re the mission.

I was finally diagnosed with bipolar mood disorder after Tara. I spent

6 months in a mental institution in Johannesburg. Mental illness stamped on my forehead for all to see, alongside a stigma, a family (and paternal and maternal family) that saw to it that I quickly became an outcast, felt like an interloper when spoken to. I was ignored, and sat quietly by myself at family functions. It was as if I was in high school again. I never cried about it, but I don’t think that made me brave.

I was half-mute like Princess Diana, and Maya Angelou as a child.

Something had happened to me. Somehow I had been transformed intrinsically in childhood (it was because of my mother’s mental, verbal, and emotional abuse), but was it the environment that changed, no, no. It was human nature. All the humans around me. Bright children, no matter how bright they might seem even if adult words come out of their mouths, all children are still innocent. And all children want is the mother-love, and I felt the lack of mother-love acutely with an acumen and focus beyond my years.

I was called insubordinate by a male teacher once. Years later when we met at a prayer meeting, he spontaneously embraced me. In that moment, I forgave him. For the corporal punishment he had meted out to me for letting someone else, a popular girl, copy out my answers in a test. I thought I would be liked. But I wasn’t. I was still a goody two shoes.

I still sometimes would spend break in a bathroom stall.

As a moony-moody teenager I would read. I was mostly withdrawn, serious, never smiling (I never smiled once at Collegiate, it hurt too much to smile, my mother would go on rampages then, hurling mental abuse at me in the morning for breakfast, afternoon tea, and supper which my sister made for us. My mother was depressed too in a sinister and deceptive way). Now let me get back to never smiling, and never playing team sports.

Let me talk about the (good) old days. Collegiate High School for Girls in Port Elizabeth (a Model C school). That year, 1995, I was of course a perfectionist. A bipolar perfectionist who only ever understood the world of achievement, achievement. It had nothing and everything to do with having a Khoi-ego, Khoi-identity, Khoi-personality. But I would only understand the knowledge of Khoi-anything later on.

In those days I relaxed my hair. My hair was so straight it made no curls or waves, and I wore it in a ballerina bun. I was skinny, not voluptuous or buxom like the other girls. Late to bloom, as the saying goes. At 17 years old, or 16, I forget, all I could think of was my shame. My shame that I was not White. The shame of not having straight hair. The mortifying shame of not being athletic, not being able to play sports, not being able to be singled out first for a game during P.E. period I did not play hockey, or tennis (my mother got her Transvaal colours for tennis in high school).

I did not have blonde hair, and freckles on my face, forehead, knees, and the rest of my body. I did not have freckles in secret places.

But I learned quick, and I also learned very slowly that people don’t easily forgive, and forget if you live with a mental illness. This made me withdraw even more into my mute-self. For most of my life I lived like this with a mute voice inside of me until one day I began to write. I was 8 years old.

In later years cousins on both sides of the family despised me (because I was mentally ill). I could see it there in there eyes, as they did not meet my gaze whenever I spoke. Family despised me (because I was mentally ill). I was not invited to weddings, or kitchen teas. Women-fold women-folk kind of things. They despise you (this I told myself) because society despises lunatics, and for a long time I was happy encompassing whatever this word meant. Lunatic. It was me who was more in touch with reality than the ones who thought I was mad, I have come to accept this now. I have other much more important, and significant things on my mind, and I am about to begin to write my first novel. This is what moves me to write this for other people suffering in silence, people who are being told to pull their socks up (or that they ‘re beginning to be too big for their britches). Don’t live a half-life. Don’t live a half-lie.

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New Social Compact

Thoughts after reading Kiran Desai’s “The Inheritance of Loss”

Abigail George

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You will experience happiness, I was the one who told myself this. No one else. The museum has invited me again to one of their lectures, but I never go. They will stop inviting, like they my father, one of these fine days, and then where will that leave me, and the fine museum built with my father’s hands. The South End Museum in Port Elizabeth, at the cusp of the Eastern Cape where in 1820 the English arrived. Sir Rufane Donkin who was to be the governor of the Cape (did he plunder, steal, rape, colonialise I thought to myself or was it kismet, fate, destiny written in the stars. Sir Donkin came with a mad wife in tow. Was she a Mrs Rochester, like me, like me, like me.

Bipolar, mosaic, atlas that it is, well for me it did the impossible with its overpowering (aplomb), uplifting gift that it gave me.

Sometimes the day itself is perfumed with good thoughts of T.S. Eliot, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Pound, Nabokov, the Russian writers, the Russian poets, the Russian masters, Isobel Dixon, Ingrid Jonker, Plath and Sexton. To me the women had superpowers, and the men, intelligence seeping through their every pore, I wanted them to talk to me, pull me into their arms and hug all my sadness, grief, loss, loneliness, frustration away from the secret chasms of my heart. I wanted them to lull and pull the self-pity that looped itself like cobwebs about my self-worth. Beautiful people, the beautiful women, that beautiful lady that was my mother that smelled just like Yves Saint Laurent’s Algeria, the beautiful men, seemed on the surface tension of things to get everything. They were rewarded. I was not.

I have this imperfect list of thoughts when I was reading Kiran Desai.

Oh, how I hope to be a respected and wonderful writer as she and Anuradha Roy is. Arundhati Roy, the writer of “The God of Small Things”. Sometimes I feel like a guardian, or rather a guardian angel when I write. I am hidden subtly, but also at the same time beyond opinion, and I also find that I am beyond caring for the approval of others. And by that of course I mean my sly and beautiful mother. Hair attractive as it falls about her face, hairpins/hair scarf/hair band loosened by her movements during the day and I try not to think of her telling me to make up my bed, or how they laugh at me, and look at me with this infuriating smile on their faces as if they know better.

Sometimes I think to myself who is the enemy now. Is it me, is it me who has to every year be put away for a week for my own good, to recover from ill health

I was sixteen years old when my mother dragged me to the Indian-looking psychiatrist who had studied in Vienna. And as I think back to that year I think of my identity coined now. That “term” on the inhale, and exhale of every breath that I take. That of a Khoi-female identity. Khoi-writer of prose, and poetry.

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Young women learn government fundamentals in nationwide leadership program

Newsroom

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This July, two teenage girls from every state in the country met in Washington, D.C., for the 73rd annual American Legion Auxiliary Girls Nation. This one-week government-in-action leadership development program is designed to educate future leaders on U.S. government fundamentals and the rights, privileges and responsibilities of citizens.

The girls selected to go to ALA Girls Nation are chosen from week-long ALA Girls State programs in each state. The young women become “senators” for a week and participate in mock political campaigns and debates, visit historical sites, and meet their real-life counterparts on Capitol Hill. For a number of the participants, the program’s impact extends beyond the weeklong event: Many go on to serve in the military and credit ALA Girls Nation as their source of inspiration.

New ALA member and U.S. Army Capt. Virginia Clark, stationed at Fort Benning in Georgia, is an ALA Girls Nation alumna. Though she says she has always been patriotic, her experiences at ALA Girls State and ALA Girls Nation helped her realize she wanted to serve her country. “Being around really motivated people made me realize I wanted to be around people who were spending their time doing things rather than looking for the next great party,” Clark said.

Reflecting on where she has been and where she is going, Clark says she owes it all to the American Legion Auxiliary. “I wouldn’t have gotten into West Point without ALA Girls State and ALA Girls Nation … I 100 percent owe, I think, my current life and my career — I met my husband at West Point — to the fact that I went to ALA Girls State and ALA Girls Nation.”

For some girls, the Washington, D.C., leadership program is their first opportunity to connect with peers with common interests. For others, it is the first time they encounter students whose perspective differs from their own. For all, it is a moment in time where similarities and differences come together to symbolize strength, democracy and freedom.

Former ALA Girls State and ALA Girls Nation attendee Allyson Snelling, who is attending the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, chose a career in the military because she “loves everything it represents.” She adds, “The values and lessons I’ve learned during my short time at West Point have made me a better person and leader.” Snelling said the program taught her the power of one voice and the importance of communicating with others. “Being able to communicate with someone you may completely disagree with is becoming a lost art,” she said. “ALA Girls Nation taught me that it doesn’t matter if you agree; it matters that you understand.”

ALA Girls Nation alumnae have gone on to hold leadership roles in industries spanning government, media, education and law, and many have become high-ranking members of the military.

Notable alumnae include Jane Pauley, national media personality; Susan Bysiewicz, lieutenant governor of Connecticut; retired Lt. Gen. Michelle D. Johnson, former superintendent of the U.S. Air Force Academy and former Air Force aide to the President; Ann Richards, former governor of Texas; and Susan Porter-Rose, former chief of staff to First Lady Barbara Bush, among many others. ALA Girls Nation is proud to be a foundation of support to the future strong women of this great nation.

The American Legion Auxiliary (ALA) is a nonpartisan organization committed to advocating for veterans’ issues, mentoring America’s youth and promoting patriotism. They advance the mission of The American Legion, incorporated by Congress in 1919 as a patriotic veterans organization founded on four pillars: Veterans Affairs & Rehabilitation, National Security, Americanism and Children & Youth.

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