Far-Right 'Journalist' Just Wants to Bring Witch Trials Back, Is That So Wrong?
You know how Rule 34 of the internet stipulates that "If it exists, there is porn of it?" Well, there is a similar rule for politics — and that is that practically any horrible thing you can think of from history, and anything or viewpoint or wacky belief you might look back upon and think "Good thing we're so much more evolved now! That would never happen today!" either has or will be defended by the Right.
As such, conservative commentator and white nationalist Patrick Howley would very much like to bring back witch trials.
This is hardly surprising, as the last time we encountered him on this site, he was demanding that politicians who drink the blood of children be banned from holding office. Howley has previously written for a variety of right-wing publications, including Breitbart, The National Review, The Wall Street Journal, The Daily Caller, The American Spectator and was the former editor-in-chief of Big League Politics. This seems important to note because it is easy to dismiss the people who possess these views as being "fringe" and not part of the conservative mainstream.
White nationalist Patrick Howley is calling for the reestablishment of *literal* witch trials.pic.twitter.com/6u5TuoWwJp— Right Wing Watch (@Right Wing Watch) 1649440435
“What’s so bad about witch trials?" Howley asked, exasperated. "Can we have witch trials again? Where we have, like, tribunals and we can jail witches? We can jail those who do the black magic? Who do the black arts? Because it’s so prevalent everywhere, and in fact it’s actually worse now than it’s ever been in history."
Howley is not talking about like, normal pagans, Wiccans, whatever. He's talking about the same kind of imaginary witches that Cotton Mather was on about in the 1600s. The ones who float and have third nipples and familiars and, of course, actual magic powers. Who he imagines are out there doing literal black magic to people.
hocus pocus film GIF Giphy
Howley actually quote-tweeted this RightWingWatch clip and stands by it, writing "Witch trials are in the interest of the civic good." This garnered replies from his followers such as
"You're not wrong"
"Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. Exodus 22:18 kjv"
"Anthropology Proff Ed Dutton is an expert in witch detection. Society has lost its ability to detect witches and deal with them, now we're rampant with witches"
I had not previously heard of this Ed Dutton fella, but it turns out he's an extreme racist published by neo-Nazi Richard Spencer, so that all tracks. I was, however, unable to find any tips on "witch detection."
It's not clear which of Howley's recent broadcasts this comes from, as he seems to wear that one outfit a lot, but my best guess is that it either comes from either the "Mitt Romney EXPOSED for Demonic Activity" or "Disney Demonic Secrets and Tunnels Revealed" episodes of his show so you know he is at least pretending to believe in fictional witches.
Practical Magic Giphy
As an aside, it is incredible how often tunnels factor into these conspiracy theories. Although when you are accusing people of patently ridiculous things that they are definitely not doing, it probably helps your case to insist they are doing them in secret underground tunnels. It's the Canadian Boyfriend of conspiracy theories.
My boyfriend? You wouldn't know him. He goes to another school. In Canada.
Mole children? Well of course you don't see them, they live in underground tunnels.
Oh, you don't see these daycare owners doing Satanic Ritual Abuse to the toddlers in their care? That's because they're doing it in tunnels.
There are many answers to the question "Why don't we have witch trials anymore?" starting with the fact that we have freedom of religion in this country and people are free to be witches if they want. Also because we now understand that those accused of witchcraft in Salem and elsewhere were not actual witches putting actual curses on people and that those accusing them were deeply incorrect, ridiculous, cruel people. The kind of people who get one teeny-weeny bit of information and, rather than getting the rest of the information, extrapolate the most ridiculous scenario they can think of based on that information. Kind of like people like Patrick Howley do today.
It would be really nice if, 400 years and an Arthur Miller play down the road, we could just take it for granted that everyone collectively agreed that witch trials were a bad idea and the people who accused others of being witches and then hanged them for it were the bad guys. Apparently we cannot.
At this point, we probably can't even guarantee that there aren't people out there who would like to bring werewolf trials back.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse