“It’s drowning all your old rationalism and skepticism, it’s coming in like a sea; and the name of it is superstition.” – Emile Cammaerts in his 1937 study of G.K. Chesterton, “The Laughing Prophet.”
In 2013, after reading that a woman “accused of sorcery” had been burned alive in Papua New Guinea, I wrote an essay titled “Whence Comes the Witch?”
I contended then that America, no matter how “enlightened” we claim to be, is not immune to witch hunts. The wave of hysterical child sex abuse prosecutions that swept the country in the 1980s and 90s proves my case, and today there are other hysterias just waiting for the right spark.
President Obama’s current Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy is John Holdren, just one of many modern scientists who believe many strange things and is willing to use government power against others who disagree.
Everyman, having exchanged his rationalism for tea leaves, has heard the call that “the world can’t wait” and “we must act now.” He has responded with the despair of immigration riots, Occupy Wall Street riots, Black Lives Matter riots, campus riots, and now riots at political rallies.
You may believe in gluten chemtrails or that trees should have legal standing to sue or that “the world can’t wait” or that violence is a legitimate political strategy – or in any number of other superstitions. But if you do, don’t be surprised when the next witch hunt occurs.
Whence comes the witch? Jules Michelet answered that question in 1862: “I say unhesitatingly: from times of despair.”