Quotations about:
    witch hunt

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What happens when a state tries to purge its state universities or a community tries to purge its public schools of alleged subversives? […] What happens is the demoralization and eventual corruption of the school system. This is not a momentary or even temporary affair; it is something the consequences of which may be felt for years. The search for subversives results in the intimidation of the independent, the original, the imaginative, and the experimental-minded. It discourages independence of thought in teachers and students alike. It discourages the reading of books that may excite the suspicion of some investigator or some Legionnaire. It discourages the discussion of controversial matters in the classroom, for such discussion may be reported, or misreported, and cause trouble. It creates a situation where first-rate minds will not go into teaching or into administration and where students therefore get poor teaching. In the long run it will create a generation incapable of appreciating the difference between independence of thought and subservience. In the long run it will create a generation not only deprived of liberty but incapable of enjoying liberty.

Henry Steele Commager (1902-1998) American historian, writer, activist
“Free Enterprise in Ideas,” Freedom, Loyalty, Dissent (1954)

Originally published in the Saturday Review (1952), based on a speech to the Advertising Council's American Round Table, New York City (1951).
Added on 9-Feb-22 | Last updated 22-Jun-22
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Lord, there’s danger in this land
You get witch-hunts and wars
When church and state hold hands

Joni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell (b. 1943) Canadian singer-songwriter and painter [b. Roberta Joan Anderson]
“Tax Free” (1985)
Added on 13-Sep-21 | Last updated 13-Sep-21
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As an organized political group, the Communists have done nothing to damage our society a fraction as much as what their enemies have done in the name of defending us against subversion.

Murray Kempton (1917-1997) American journalist.
America Comes of Middle Age: Columns, 1950-1962 (1963)
Added on 24-Jul-20 | Last updated 24-Jul-20
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Everyone loves a witch hunt as long as it’s someone else’s witch being hunted.

Walter Kirn (b. 1962) American novelist, literary critic, essayist
Twitter (10 Jan 2011)
Added on 26-Aug-17 | Last updated 5-Sep-17
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I know your race. It is made up of sheep. It is governed by minorities, seldom or never by majorities. It suppresses its feelings and its beliefs and follows the handful that makes the most noise. Sometimes the noisy handful is right, sometimes wrong; but no matter, the crowd follows it. The vast majority of the race, whether savage or civilized, are secretly kind-hearted and shrink from inflicting pain, but in the presence of the aggressive and pitiless minority they don’t dare to assert themselves. Think of it! One kind-hearted creature spies upon another, and sees to it that he loyally helps in iniquities which revolt both of them. Speaking as an expert, I know that ninety-nine out of a hundred of your race were strongly against the killing of witches when that foolishness was first agitated by a handful of pious lunatics in the long ago. And I know that even to-day, after ages of transmitted prejudice and silly teaching, only one person in twenty puts any real heart into the harrying of a witch. And yet apparently everybody hates witches and wants them killed. Some day a handful will rise up on the other side and make the most noise — perhaps even a single daring man with a big voice and a determined front will do it — and in a week all the sheep will wheel and follow him, and witch-hunting will come to a sudden end.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
The Mysterious Stranger, ch. 9 (1916)
Added on 5-May-16 | Last updated 5-May-16
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There is a hate layer of opinion and emotion in America. There will be other McCarthys to come who will be hailed as its heroes.

Maxwell "Max" Lerner (1902-1992) American journalist, columnist, educator
“McCarthyism: The Smell of Decay,” New York Post (5 Apr 1950)

Lerner coined the term "McCarthyism" in this article. In 1954, he wrote, "For my own part I doubt seriously whether the word will outlast the political power of the man from whom it derives."
Added on 10-Feb-15 | Last updated 10-Feb-15
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Un-American activity cannot be prevented or routed out by employing un-American methods; to preserve freedom we must use the tools that freedom provides.

Dwight David Eisenhower (1890-1969) American general, US President (1953-61)
The White House Years: Mandate for Change: 1953-1956: A Personal Account (1963)
Added on 10-Dec-14 | Last updated 10-Dec-14
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No one man can terrorize a whole nation, unless we are all his accomplices.

Edward R. Murrow (1908-1965) American journalist
See It Now (7 Mar 1954)

Comment to the production team before the episode on Senator Joseph R McCarthy’s Communist witch hunt.
Added on 2-Apr-08 | Last updated 6-Jan-20
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