Norman Cohen on the Blood Libel

Found : Norman Cohen on the Blood Libel

In his research on the great witch hunt in Europe from the fifteenth to seventeenth centuries, historian Norman Cohn discovered a single enduring paranoid theme: that somewhere in the midst of the larger society there lurks another society– small, well-organized, and clandestine– that threatens the existence of the larger society and is addicted to inhuman practices. Cohn found that this was a recurrent myth throughout human history. Ironically, this myth first appeared during the second century and was directed against the early Christians. It had its antecedents in earlier anti-Jewish polemics. Its most infamous recent appearance was in Nazi Germany, where it was used against the Jews. Its latest incarnation is the current wave of anti-satanist hysteria promoted by fundamentalist Christians and others with their own secret agenda. These modern-day witch hunters are distinguished by their use of modern communications technology to spread ancient foolishness.

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