Persecution Of The Powerless Research Paper

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Abby Kagan Ms. Colquitt 10 Honors English November 12, 2014 Persecution of the Powerless: A Recurring Theme in American History Why does America continually prosecute and victimize the powerless? Perhaps, citizens prosecute powerless because they are the easiest victims to accuse and take control over. The theme of persecution of the powerless occurs repeatedly throughout history and still occurs today. From the Salem witch trials in the 1690s to McCarthyism and the Red Scare in the 1950s to the recent Matthew Shepard incident in Wyoming in 1998. These three events link together by persecution of the powerless sparked by fear of the unknown. Society’s fear of the unknown led to false accusations by the fearful of the powerless, isolation…show more content…
Fear of the unknown caused wrongful accusations. During the 1690s in Salem Village, the church accused approximately 200 innocent people of practicing witchcraft. Devout Protestants accused these 200 victims because they feared devil had taken over in Salem. Once the court “convicted” a person of witchcraft, it sentenced them to hang on Gallows Hell. If a person confessed to the crime of witchcraft, the court did not hang them but the community still wrongly called the person a witch. The people would only to confess to save their lives. The court in Salem accepted spectral evidence in the trials, which caused most of the accusations in Salem. In the 1950s, Senator Joseph McCarthy used his power to make incorrect accusations during the Red Scare. Though he never provided evidence to accuse somebody of communism, “his power to deflate his political enemies with false accusations was enormous” (“McCarthyism”). McCarthy raised hysteria within America which led to many fabricated charges. People accused of believing in communism would lose their job and even go to jail in some cases. Targeted for his homosexuality, Matthew Shepard received harsh…show more content…
From 1692 to 1693 in Salem Village, the court and church hanged about 20 people. These people could have saved their own lives by confessing to witchcraft. They did not confess to witchcraft because they would have been lying and that is against God’s Ten Commandments. These accused, died for what they believed in, obeying God’s Ten Commandments. The Red Scare did not result in many deaths. Only Julius and Ethel Rosenberg in the 1950s suffered executions for communism. Many other non-literal deaths took place during the Red Scare. Losses of people’s careers and families put an end to numerous successful futures. Once a person was thought to be a communist, society saw these people differently and did not give them the same opportunities. The Red Scare ruined lives for many people. Matthew Shepard’s story ended with his death as well. Young twenty-one year old, Shepard unfortunately passed away in 1998 but became a martyr and leader for change, prompting the passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. The two men who were given life sentences in jail, brutally killed Shepard because of hatred that blossomed from ignorance. These ill-fated events in the Salem witch trials, McCarthy trials, and Matthew Shepard’s murder changed America and its

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