But, what is a “witch hunt” anyway?
With the news that the five GOP Congressmen who have been subpoenaed by the January 6th Committee characterizing the subpoenas as a “witch hunt,” I thought it appropriate to take a quick look at what a witch hunt is.
Oxford, which naturally uses the English spelling of the word, “witch-hunt,” defines it, historically as, “a search for and subsequent persecution of a supposed witch.” Collins, which agrees with Oxford on the English spelling, takes a somewhat more contemporary approach: “A witch-hunt is an attempt to find and punish a particular group of people who are being blamed for something, often simply because of their opinions and not because they have actually done anything wrong. And Merriam-Webster? They hedge the bet, using the American spelling, witch hunt, and both an historical and contemporary definition: ” 1) a searching out for persecution of persons accused of witchcraft; and 2) the searching out and deliberate harassment of those (such as political opponents) with unpopular views.
Whatever the definition, I can almost guarantee that the term has been uttered or written more often in the last several years than in all the time since it’s original use in the 19th century. (While “witch hunting” dates back to the 17th century, the use of the noun describing the act was documented significantly later, according to Merriam-Webster).
- Trump used the term 84 times in describing the Mueller probe, according to The Atlantic. (Vox puts it at “more than 120…, but who’s counting?)
- The Guardian reported that Trump used the term “…approximately once every three days on average during his presidency and not only in connection with his impeachment trial. He continued to use it later in the year to describe accusations that he mismanaged America’s Covid-19 response, inquiries into his tax returns, an investigation into alleged criminal conduct at the Trump Organization and other controversies.”
- No mathematician I, but a quick calculation of “once every three days” resulted in 486 uses during his time in office. And, we all know he didn’t stop after that.
But it’s not just Trump. Just about every GOP politician who faces scrutiny has used the term. Even Trump’s favorite Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu has invoked it. Of course he probably said it this way: צַיִד מְכַשֵׁפוֹת.
The term has been so overused even witches are up in arms! Back in 2018, The Daily Beast headlined a story, Witches to Trump: Stop Calling the Mueller Investigation a ‘Witch Hunt’ going on to report, “The witch community is tired of the president invoking the worst moment in their history to serve his political needs.”
With that witch hunting perspective, let’s get back to our most current witch hunt, using Heather Cox Richardson’s excellent summary as our guide.
Today the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol issued subpoenas for testimony to five members of Congress: Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Representatives Scott Perry (R-PA), Jim Jordan (R-OH), Andy Biggs (R-AZ), and Mo Brooks (R-AL). The committee previously invited them to cooperate voluntarily, and they refused. The committee has evidence that these five, in particular, know crucial things about the events of January 6 and activities surrounding the attempt to overturn President Joe Biden’s election.
McCarthy communicated with Trump before, during, and after the attack on January 6th. A recently released tape shows McCarthy claiming that Trump admitted some guilt over the attack.
Perry tried to install Trump loyalist Jeffrey Clark as acting attorney general to overturn the election.
Jordan was part of meetings and discussions after the election to overturn its results. He also communicated with Trump on January 6th, including in the morning, before the attack took place.
Biggs was part of the planning for January 6, including the plan to bring protesters to Washington, D.C. He also worked to convince state officials that the election was stolen. Former White House officials say Biggs sought a presidential pardon in connection with the attempt to overturn the election results.
Wearing body armor, Brooks spoke at the January 6 rally, where he told rioters to “start taking down names and kicking ass.” Since then, he has said Trump tried to get him to help “rescind the election of 2020” and put Trump back in the White House.
Committee Chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS) said: “We urge our colleagues to comply with the law, do their patriotic duty, and cooperate with our investigation as hundreds of other witnesses have done.”
In my mind, these five elected officials, who, remember, took an Oath of Office in which they swore to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic…” are giving witches a bad name.
But, you be the judge. Is the Committee’s effort to receive testimony from five Congressmen who not only might have inside knowledge of the planning of the January 6 insurrection but. may in fact, been part of that planning and even, particularly in the case of Brooks, its execution, a witch hunt or a legitimate inquiry into the facts that led to the great number of “domestic enemies” who attempted to overturn an election and the legal and legitimate transfer of government from one president to another?
This, my friends is not a difficult question to answer.
(One definitional point before I sign off. Since almost all the GOP “witches” being hunted are men, isn’t the use of the term, “witch hunt,” not only an affront to their sense of “justice,” but also to their manhood? Given that, and if only for their self-esteem, I would hope that these Republicans who believe they are being unjustifiably “persecuted,” use the more appropriate term, “warlock hunt,” to describe future hunts.)
5 thoughts on “Witch hunt here, witch hunt there, is there a witch hunt everywhere?”
Using the term “witch hunt” is a deliberate ploy by Republican leaders aimed at their MAGAt cult members declaring their innocence, and the over-reaching of the government to prosecute them for treason. That could be the message the MAGAts receive. But the message it sends out to all non-MAGAts is that they know they are guilty-as-not-even-charged-yet, and are reluctant to face the consequences of their actions. Did I say “reluctant”? How about “Scared Out Of Their Underwear” shaking in their boots frightened.
To all believers of the “Big Lie” out there, are these really the kind of leaders you want to be associsted with? Leaders who shirk their responsibilities to the United States of America? Leaders who don’t have the guts to face up to their crimes? Oh, they weren’t cimes? They were legitimate attempts to correct the wrong that almost every court in the Red States found to be frivolous and fantastic claims of cheating? Yup, I would sure want to follow people like that!
Not in my lifetime! But maybe you would rather believe your ears than your eyes, your minds, and your hearts.
Your leaders are grovelling snakes trying to escape the consequences of their actions–actions that resulted in the deaths of people on both sides of an uncivil conflict! The J6ers went to Washington DC, not the other way around. The J6ers broached the castles of Congress, entering through stormed doors and broken windows! Does that sound like law-abiding ways for sightseers to enter a building? What happened inside I won’t even bother repeating, we all know it was an attack, not a walk through a park. And then your leaders abandoned you. They left the attackers to fend for themselves! Yup. Great leaders. True cowards!
Sorry for ranting on, Mr. Block, but it needed to come out somewhere. It just happened to be here.
No problem for the length of your rant. If you think your reply was long, wait until you see mine! (And you can call me Ted).
I just want to clarify who the “you” and “your” you refer to are. It’s not me. With me, you’re preaching to the choir; these cowards you speak of are not my leaders, they’re the deceitful leaders and followers of the MAGAGOP. Leaders and followers who have, without much resistance, spent the last four years stacking the deck against legitimate governing; they have created a crisis from which this democracy may not be able to recover.
In a recent comment, you talked about the need for leadership from the left, mentioning me, Robert Reich and Michelle Obama. Unfortunately, leadership from the left, from the Democratic Party, is feckless at best, self-destructive at worst. More to come on that in a future post.
Interestingly, regarding Michelle Obama, I received an email today from the Obamas. The subject was, “Barack and Michelle just broke their silence.” It went on: “Theodore: The Supreme Court has signaled it will overturn Roe v. Wade. Now President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama are breaking their silence to call on top Democratic supporters like you. The path to defending our reproductive rights is paved by electing pro-choice champions like Val Demings and expanding our Democratic majority in the Senate.”
It was, pure and simple, yet another solicitation for money. This wasn’t a case where the Obamas were breaking their silence, it was simply one of the hundreds of similar solicitations for Democratic candidates I get every day. But this time, the Obamas were the shills. This is not leadership. This will not avoid the bloodbath that is expected in November. And frankly it doesn’t work. I’ve been sitting on a story about Amy McGrath (KY) and Jamie Harrison (SC) running for Senate seats in 2020. They were party favorites. (He’s now chairman of the DNC). Their solicitations glowingly told us they were in the lead but just needed a little more money to seal the deal. Both lost by enormous margins. And, after the fact, it was revealed that both had raised more money than their GOP opponents. Fund raising is not leadership.
Democrats are led by timid, unimaginative, feckless politicians. Their far-left to center-right caucus can agree on almost nothing. Unlike Republicans, who are in lockstep, Democrats are out of step with each other and out of touch with their base. They are leading the over 50% of the country that supports them down a rabbit hole with no way out.
Call me a glass half-empty guy, but my view is that the worst is yet to come.
The “you” and “your” in my above comment refer to Trump cultists, otherwise known as MAGAts, thanks to political cartoonist Clay Jones of claytoonz on Word Press. I was speaking directly to them, assuming they visit your blog. Considering the number of trolls out there, I’m sure some do.
About Barack and Michelle “phishing for funds,” it is sad to see them selling out to the DNC, but Barack probably feels he owes something to the party, and probably feels he has to do something for them. (I really do not know, just dpeculating.) But politicians are always looking for funds, since spending in political races is completely out of control. They can never feel they have enough money. Funny though that they are willing to lower their morals for their own followers, but unwilling to leave the high moral ground against the Republicans, where they refuse to fight fire with fire. I mean, they do not have to be as dirty as the Repugs, but trying to be squeeky clean when their opponents are fighting below the belt will never win.
I think the Repugs being in lockstep is as dangerous for them as it positive for them. They are risking their popularity should a large number of their voters decide Trump has gone too far. Surely some of them see through the Big Lie, and also through the J6 coup attempt. People died that day, on both sides. Politics is not worth people dying! If it is, American Democracy is in its last days. For me, part of the Dem strategy for November should be asking MAGAts where their morality stops and cultism takes over. How far are they willing to support liars, cheats, and outright criminals before they decide enough is enough.
Hey, Ted, I would like to know what you think of this post by Barbara McQuade, an ex-state politician from Michigan. I don’t know where she writes, but a blogger friend of mine reblogged her words at Think Smaller — Protect Your Right To Vote! — Filosofa’s Word. I hope this link works for you. It is a different take on State elections, and I think the Dems would be hard pressed to find a more important place to rally around than elections for state Office of Secretary of State all across the country!