Every one in a while, America erupts into mass hysteria because of the ranting of some crazy people. In the 1600's, we had the Salem witch trials, and as described in the book, "The Crucible", a group of girls falsely accuse their neighbors of witchcraft, and regular, innocent people are hung. Then, in the 1950's, a man named Joseph McCarthy sparked a craze of accusing people, mainly government officials, of being communist, thus scarring their careers. The McCarthy hearing are similar to the Salem witch hunt because the accuser exaggerates and fabricates evidence, the accused are used as scapegoats for society's problems, and McCarthy and the Salem girls use the accusations to obtain power.
In neither McCarthyism nor the Salem witch trials were real evidence put forth to prove the guilt of the accused. Instead, people readily agreed with the accusers, having to assume that they were telling the truth.
In the fifties, with the war going badly in Korea, the communists were making advances in China and Eastern Europe, which caused the American public to be scared of communists infiltrating the U.S. government. Hundreds of people- actors, government workers, and even military personnel, were accused by McCarthy (Joseph McCarthy - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia). Some admitted to being affiliated with the communist party, and lost their jobs. In 17th century Salem, the girls would completely fabricate evidence against the witches.
"Suddenly, from an accusatory attitude, her face turns, looking into the air above- it is truly frightened.
Danforth, apprehensively: What is it child?
Abigail, looking about in the air, clasping her arms about her as though cold: I-- I know not. A wind, a cold wind, has come. Her eyes fall on Mary Warren." (108)
In this scene, Abigail clearly pretends that she sees Mary Warren's spirit, and then...