Witch Trials the True Harm of Betrayal

The cruel and unjust treatment of people during McCarthyism, the Crucible, and Japanese people during WWII demonstrated that fear betrayed each group, ultimately causing a great deal of harm in the end. During McCarthyism, many people were falsely accused of communism in America. Likewise, during the Salem Witch Trials, numerous teenage girls accused innocent people of practicing witchcraft, even without sufficient evidence, out of fear. In WWII, Japanese Americans were put into internment camps due to the paranoia that all Japanese people were conspiring against the United States through means of espionage. All of these historical events ruined a huge group of people’s lives, reputations, and ordina personal freedoms in America, especially those affected by McCarthyism.

Senator McCarthy was notorious for unleashing a significant level of blacklisting in America, mostly out of the fear that everyday Americans were active and motivated communists. “Those who were revealed, falsely or legitimately, as communists, and those who refused to incriminate their friends, saw their careers suffer, as they were blacklisted from potential jobs for many years afterward”(Sparknotes 3). Many actors, politicians and even film producers were falsely accused of communism and publicly blacklisted. The fear of so many people being communists harmed those who were accused, causing them to lose their hard earned jobs, reputations, and careers, with little hope to regain any of what they had personally built. “Senator Joseph McCarthy, a demagogue whose vitriolic anti-communism proved the spark needed to propel the United States into a dramatic and fractious anti-Communist fervor” (Sparknotes 3). McCarthy also wreaked havoc on all of America by plunging the general public into a communal fear of communism affecting their lives through their peers and colleagues. This amount of fear and hatred against communism in America led to the betrayal of workers, their businesses, and reputations. Many people were falsely accused by the ongoing mass paranoia and irrational fear, similar to the events surrounding the Salem Witch Trials.

The Salem Witch Trials were dictated by the Quaker church beliefs, enabling the congregation to majorly accuse ordinary townspeople of witchcraft. This majority mindset led to an unjust lack of trust in those accused. “Then many other residents of Salem, began to accuse other villagers of consorting with devils and casting spells…Within a few weeks, dozens of people were in jail on charges of witchcraft”(Sparknotes 1). Many residents who hated one another started to accuse each other of witchcraft as a way to publicly denounce them. If the person under accusation was sentenced to jail or even death, this gave the accuser an opportunity to buy the other person’s land to help benefit themselves. “Do you take it upon yourself to determine what this court shall believe and what it shall set aside”(Miller 39). The large amount of witchcraft cases in such a short span of time ultimately caused the court to abandon their system of a fair trial. This means that witnesses’ testimonies were not used in deciding the verdict. For example, this betrayal in the court led to the immediate death of Giles Corey and his wife. Betrayal in the Salem Witch Trials killed and harmed many people. Many years later a similar thing would be repeated against a very different group of people, Japanese Americans during World War II..

Many Japanese Americans were forced into internment camps under the impression that they were all secretly conspiring against America during WWII. The American government truly believed that most Japanese people living in the states were assisting Japan during wartime. “The objectives of the order were to prevent espionage and to protect persons of Japanese descent from harm at the hands of Americans ‘(NationalArchives.gov). Although the internment camps were intended to reduce the risk of Japanese spies crippling American war efforts, it quickly became a holding spot for a huge group of people who were wrongly discriminated against. All Japanese Americans in the internment camps were going to be harmed no matter their choice, for example one choice would give them a bad name in the Japanese community as being an inu, while the other choice would make them appear as traders in the American eye. “When papa stood up to defend YES YES position, murmurs of Inu, Inu began to circulate…Papa had him by the throat and would have strangled him”( J.W.Houston and J. Houston). The Japanese community held in the internment camps thought betrayal of Japan and the emperor was a sin to them and to their entire country. They believed that betrayal would destroy their relationships and what others thought of them. Their lives would’ve been bad even if they said NO NO, such as what George Takei’s family did.

Saying NO NO would lead to a family being sent to a more horrific camp in America, as well as being falsely threatened with deportation back to Japan. “Then we were transferred from that camp to another camp in Northern California, called Tule Lake which was an even more harsh camp”(Ted Talk). This must have been a living nightmare for all Japanese Americans in the camps. “If you answered NO, meaning I don’t have loyalty to the emperor to forswear… if you answered YES, meaning yes I will be loyal to America”(Ted Talk). Betrayal was almost forced on them because the majority had an unending devotion for Japan. They saw America as a blessing, but their true loyalty and allegiance was for their home country Japan. Any sense of disloyalty to America would mean they would be moved to a much worse camp where they were mentally harmed by their choice. In some instances of betrayal causing pain and harm there is a silver lining at the same time

All through betrayal caused harm, at the same time, it made some families have to unite to be together while being harmed. This uniting of a family really gave them hope and not harm at all. “He purposely drank nothing stronger than tea. He shaved and trimmed his mustache and put on a silk tie”(J.W.Houston and J. Houston). Calling Papa an inu and a trader of Japan actually caused him to finally get out of his camphouse and freshen up to start to be able to go to the meetings about their devotion to Japan. “We would laugh together when we heard him plucking it and whining out old Japanese melodies. We would hold our ears and giggle. It was always a great joke between us”( J.W.Houston and J. Houston). After fighting he stopped drinking and tried to actual support and be there for his family. Fear caused by betrayal did mentally destroy some people as it changed their whole outlook on life.

Betrayal might’ve caused some good but more harm was done to the mass population in all scenarios.“Sip till he was blind drunk and passed out… He terrified all of us… swinging his bottles wildly”( J.W.Houston and J. Houston). Calling Papa an inu gave him a sense that his own people were betraying him. These thoughts led to the harming of himself as he became abusive and an alcoholic, this ultimately ruined his personal relationship with his family, and himself. “Papa was an inu because he had been released from Fort Lincoln earlier than the Issei men as he said YES YES”( J.W.Houston and J. Houston). Even if they agreed with America, while loving Japan they were still called Inus and were looked down upon for their betrayal. No matter what Japanese Americans in internment camps would’ve been harmed weather betraying America or Japan.

The treatment of people during McCarthyism, the Crucible, and Japanese people during WWII showed how fear betrayed them which ultimately caused a great deal of harm to them. The false accusations constructed by McCarthy accused many betrayals to uprise, in effect these betrayals caused harm to many people’s lives as they were black listed. The widespread hysteria in Salem caused many townspeople to be betrayed which led to the death of many and the scandalous plans of some to be accomplished. The false imprisonment of all Japanese Americans caused for all Japanese citizens living in America to be forced to make a tough decision which caused harm and betrayal no matter what as it was a double edged sword situation. George Takei’s family lives were determently harmed and changed for the worse just by their decision that intended betrayal. No matter what, betrayal will always cause harm but it’s up to the person in the situation on how to use the harm, either for it to better them or for it to worsen them.

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Witch Trials The True Harm Of Betrayal. (2022, Aug 22). Retrieved September 22, 2022 , from

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