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The Witch Hunt
The beginning (1950): On February 9, 1950, US Senator Joseph McCarthy brandished a list of State Department officials whom he accused of being "notorious Communists" guilty of collusion with the Soviet Union and Stalin's agents.
The ascent (1952): McCarthy takes over as chair of a permanent Senate investigative subcommittee. Now a civil servant can be subjected to police investigation and dismissed on the mere suspicion of sympathy with Stalin's Soviet Union. Thanks to this position, he therefore has a major part of the power over this witch hunt.
The consequences (1952-54): In political circles, 26 deportation orders were applied. Nearly 4 million civil servants were put under surveillance and many of them preferred to resign. In all walks of life, including workers, thousands of people have lost their jobs. Thousands of homosexuals have also been targeted by American authorities, a little-known part of the story.
The End (1954): The Senate issues a reprimand to McCarthy on December 2, 1954 by 67 votes against 2220. Marginalized in political circles, discredited, McCarthy sinks into alcoholism and dies in 1957. Thereafter thousands of victims return to a more or less normal life even if the trauma lasts for a few more years.
At this period of McCarthyis, the American politicians used this principle to drive out ex-communists, who are the government’s new targets. Thus, th government puts pressure on its inhabitants to expose supposed communist infiltration in various areas of the United States. Otherwise, they are considered accomplices and are therefore under threat of being imprisoned. In addition, some people had to hide or change their name to avoid being reprimanded. Thus there is moral impact on the entire population which must sometimes denounce an innocent person to survive.
McCarthyism around the world
The expression “Hollywood Ten” designates ten producers, screenwriters or film directors who were summoned in 1947 by the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). The trial of the Ten began in April 1948. Each of them was tried separately. Sentences could range from a fine to imprisonment. However, the common condemnation to all these celebrities was withdrawal from the Hollywood industry. Following this, these personalities had to integrate into society most of the time under another name so as not to be noticed. Thus their career was put on hold and their life became a struggle. In reality, the American protagonists condemned these artists for political reasons. Indeed, they used this pretext to install an anti-communist ideology on the scale of the entire population.
For ten days, the "Truth, Reconciliation, and Reparation" commission has opened a painful file that shook the country in 2009, when President Yahya Jammeh launched a real witch hunt. According to Amnesty International, several hundred people were then arrested and taken by truck to secret detention centres. They are tortured, then forced to drink a hallucinogenic and corrosive drink, until they confess under duress to their witchcraft. After the arrests, the mistrust of the neighborhood, the suspicions, this new fear which crossed Gambia. Those who had confessed to their witchcraft under torture were discriminated against, some saw their business decline, others had to give up living in the same place. Accusations of witchcraft are common in West Africa, but the Gambian case stands out for its magnitude. For the opposition, the witch hunt has been a tool of state control over the population, a "divide and rule". And for former regime officials who testify at the bar, the discord sown by these attacks is persistent precisely because it is embedded within communities and families.
The problem of witch hunts is recurrent in the tribal regions of northern and eastern India. Groups of men murder women and sometimes even entire families under cover of superstitions. Indeed, due to lack of access to care, the poorest call on local healers. Thus groups of men take advantage of this pretext to accuse them of witchcraft and thus drive them out of society. In general, the witch hunt appears as a deeply misogynistic weapon: single, widowed or divorced women are perceived as wild, free and therefore threatening. It then becomes easy to accuse them of witchcraft and “acceptable” to kill them to recover their land.