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theodore M I R A L D I mpa ... editor, publisher, writer
Saturday, October 6, 2018
Kavanaugh In The 'CRUCIBLE'
Illustration on the Kavanaugh hysteria by Alexander Hunter
Brett Kavanaugh could play the lead in a new version of “The Crucible,” Arthur Miller’s celebrated play about an innocent man tested by the mob. The playwright was a man of the left, but his play reflects what can happen to a reputation anywhere when the dishonest unleashes poison.
It’s about outrage at the terror created by “subjective reality” when applied without evidence or proof. It’s about the personal savagery that can take over a decent society that becomes an unthinking mob out to destroy a decent man in the name of morality.
The playwright wrote “The Crucible” to describe a trial by ordeal. A crucible is a small laboratory dish where tests of metal provoke violent reaction when the heat is turned up. Arthur Miller uses the metaphor for testing the mettle of human conscience, exploring what happens when hysteria is ignited by heated but false accusations.
Arthur Miller specifically focused on the politics of the 1950s, when Sen. Joseph McCarthy and hearings of the U.S. House Un-American Activities Committee created the crucible to punish men and women said to be card-carrying Communists, without proof and without witnesses. The senator went on fishing expeditions to punish the innocent on the pretense they were conspiring to overthrow the government. “The Crucible” explores the state of the public mind, where new sins are created daily and quickly accepted as “the new orthodoxy.”
Mr. Miller set his play in the Salem, Massachusetts, of 1692 but his play is timeless, exposing what happens when the public abandons collective conscience to wallow in the “morass of subjectivism.”
He saw what came to be known as McCarthyism, fostered by the far right in the 1950s, creating “a new subjective reality, a veritable mystique which was gradually assuming even a holy resonance.” But the screw turns. He would surely see today that the tale of Salem has become a tale of the left, with the Democrats of the Senate Judiciary Committee driven by the hysteria of intolerance. The destruction of Brett Kavanaugh and his family are loftily dismissed as merely collateral damage.
“Above all, above all horrors, I saw accepted the notion that conscience was no longer a private matter but one of state administration,” Mr. Miller wrote of the America that inspired “The Crucible.” In an introduction to his collected plays he wrote that “I saw men handing conscience to other men for the opportunity of doing so.” This should be required reading for Chuck Schumer and Dianne Feinstein. Then they should read it as a bedtime story for Jeff Flake.
The turning point in “The Crucible” which destroys the protagonist, an innocent man, turns on a woman’s vengeful lie. Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination was not threatened until one woman, without a single witness, accused him of a sexual assault, a charge supported only by memories clouded by the passage of nearly four decades. Christina Blasey Ford didn’t speak of her “trauma” for three decades, and then only in “couples therapy” with her husband. But now she says she’s sure it happened, “one hundred percent.”
No one is calling her a liar, but her memory lapses then and now are prolific and disturbing. While much is made of her suffering from post traumatic syndrome (PTS) which has “affected her memory,” no one has diagnosed false memory syndrome (FMS), where a person’s identity and relationships are affected by memories falsely recalled. This term is not recognized as a psychiatric diagnosis, but it has been documented by reputable scientists who have found evidence of it, especially in children. But she’s not on trial. He is.
Alan Dershowitz, a Democrat and Harvard law professor, appeals for fundamental fairness for the judge. He says Brett Kavanaugh’s trial by ordeal in the court of public opinion has become a trial for his life. “We have come a long way since McCarthyism,” he writes in The Wall Street Journal, “but we now live in an age that risks a new form of sexual McCarthyism.”
“The Crucible” was set in the hysteria of 17th century New England, where young women could not halt the chain reaction of accusations. The Kavanaugh hysteria is a 21st century reprise in the capital of a deeply troubled country. The #MeToo movement was founded on justified anger against powerful men eager to take advantage, and it has devolved into a movement to whip up lynch-mob hysteria over any accusation that touches on sexual assault, some proven and some not.
One of the protesters who accosted Jeff Flake in a Senate elevator told him she had been sexually assaulted and that if he voted to confirm Mr. Kavanaugh it would mean that “my assault doesn’t matter.” It means no such thing. Verdict now, evidence not necessary, is the legacy of Salem, extended to our time, our place. We’re capable of better than that.