I think now that the great thing is not so much the formulation of an answer for myself, for the theater, or the play-but rather the most accurate possible statement of the problem. ~ Arthur Miller
Today marks the 58th anniversary of the day that Arthur Miller’s “Crucible” premiered in New York City. I’ve read this play probably 9 or 10 times in my life and seen various productions of it throughout my life. It happens to be one of my favorite pieces for so many reasons. No reason more clearly spoken than the above quote from Miller himself.
Perhaps, of American satirists, he is the greatest (at least in my opinion). As many of you are well aware, this play was written to point out the social injustices of McCarthyism. During that time, anyone who suspected of communism was investigated, black-listed and even jailed if they had even circumstantial evidence that you might be a communist.
How interesting it is that this social commentary is as relevant today as it was in Miller’s day.
There is this constant battle of good vs. evil in our country. The common mantra being “God is good”. Obviously, it stands to reason, that everything that is not God, is evil. So it was during those days in Salem that, those who were accused of witchcraft were viewed as evil. Women were tortured and killed for witchcraft not because they were witches but, because they were suspected of being witches. What was it really? One person in Salem didn’t like another and accused her of witchcraft. From there the hysteria grew.
We find in the play, as we do with more historical works, that villagers would compile out right lies. Witches will come for your children, they will cause infertility and abort your babies with incantations.
We saw similar arguments during the “Red Scares”. Communists are out to get you, they will convert, rape and murder your children.
Again during the Civil Rights movement, we saw the same tactics. Black men will rape, beat and murder your white children and women.
It’s amazing isn’t it? In our society, historically, anything that a Christian or many Christians couldn’t understand was evil. Even now, the argument over whether or not evolution is a real process is met with the ignorant “That can’t be possible” which translates, in my mind to, “I don’t understand it so it can’t exist”.
Today in America, we have a huge struggle emerging. As a member of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) community I can tell you, history is in fact repeating itself.
It’s been said (even today) time and again that we are out to recruit children. This makes logical sense to them because, if you’re same-sex you can not reproduce, therefore we would die out if we didn’t recruit. This is as stupid as saying that mules have to recruit other mules because they can’t reproduce or infertile people have to recruit other infertile people because they can’t reproduce.
Statistics have been thrown at us as well. Some large percent of child molestation is perpetrated by homosexuals and of course, this is reason enough for them to paint all LGBT people with that brush. Sadly though, they are way off base on that one. The largest percent of child molestation may be adult male to minor male but, those adult males are more often married and in heterosexual relationships and identify as heterosexual. The worse part is, they are most often either the biological father, parental guardian or other close male relative than anything else. Of course, we don’t see the Theocratic Christian Reich looking to deny the right of marriage to men who happen to be uncles.
What does this tell us, truly, about the mentality of our society? To me it says, we never change as a people. We are ever looking to find the devil and the cure for anything and everything that the “moral majority” lacks an understanding of.
Arthur Miller wrote his amazing play nearly 60 years ago and as much as we’ve changed the object of our oppression since then, we have not at all learned tackled the actual problem at hand.
History, my friends, holds all the answers.