151020FranklinOct. 20, 2015

“(Richard Beck’s “We Believe the Children”) addresses only the question of why those events unfolded in the particular way that they did, at one particular moment – not why this hydralike form of communal social hysteria can be stamped out in one place only to rear another ugly head elsewhere.

“Perhaps there is no answer to that question – or, at least, no answer we want to hear. Politics, social mores, human psychology, a rye-eating fungus: all these submit calmly to our investigations. But a hard core of evil in the soul of humankind? That might be the real witchcraft, one we dare not examine too closely.”

– From “Trial and Error: Three centuries of American witch hunts” by Ruth Franklin in Harper’s Magazine (Oct. 17)