The Raving Theist

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May 14, 2005 | 5 Comments

Is there something wrong with erecting a bronze statute of the housewife witch Samantha Stephens of Bewitched in Salem, Massachusetts — the town best known for hanging 19 of its citizens for witchcraft in 1692? John Carr, a former member of the Salem Historic District Commission, says “[i]t’s like TV Land going to Auschwitz and proposing to erect a statue of Colonel Klink.”

We hereby interrupt this atheism to point out a number of structural problems with Mr. Carr’s analogy:

(1) Witches were the victims in Salem. Nazis were the oppressors at Auschwitz. TV Land would either have to erect a statue of a Jew at Auschwitz (or a witch-hunter at Salem), for the analogy to make sense.

(2) Samantha Stephens was not hanged or otherwise oppressed in Bewitched, and was not alive in 1692. Assuming TV Land does erect a corresponding statute at Auschwitz, it would have to be one of a Jew living happily in the suburbs in the year 2220 or so.

(3) Col. Klink presided over an American prisoner of war camp in Germany, not a concentration camp. So his counterpart at Salem wouldn’t really be a witch-hunter, but whatever town official was charged with the internment of the forces attempting to liberate the witches.

(4) Werner Klemperer, who portrayed Colonel Klink in Hogan’s Heroes, was a Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany. To match that credential, TV Land would have to erect a statute of an escaped accused witch who portrayed a sitcom witch-hunter.

I’d be more than happy to launch into a tirade about the role of Christian superstition in bringing about Salem and Auschwitz, once Mr. Carr supplies a less distracting analogy. While he’s at it, he might also have a chat with with the people running the Salem Witch Museum. Although the merchandise at their site consists primarily of books and videos regarding the witch trials, they chose to feature these hats on the home page of their online store:


Uh . . . what’s that a picture of on the hat on the right? Isn’t it a bit like putting a Der St


5 Responses to “Bewildered”

  1. Mutt
    May 14th, 2005 @ 3:21 pm

    I’d also point out that, uh, both are fictional characters, as in they didn’t really exist, hello!, but that doesn’t seem to bother the religious.

    Samantha Stephens is also a good example of a tame, obedient woman who’s always cheerful and doesn’t use her magic without her husband’s say-so. The opposite of the accused in witch hunts — who were lippy, odd or had otherwise attracted grudges, and couldn’t do magic.

  2. June
    May 14th, 2005 @ 3:51 pm

    Does Salem have a suitable memorial to the victims of their witch trials? Perhaps with “Never Again” on the pedestal?

  3. David Moisan
    May 14th, 2005 @ 6:28 pm

    This atheist has lived in Salem for all of my 42 years. The controversy over the statue is nothing about “sensitivity” and more about property values; the city has drawn too many wealthy homeowners and “neighborhood groups” that obsess about the “character” of the city (yet still drive their SUV’s.) No doubt they may remind you of the snooty old lady next door that publicly wrings her hand about the “undesirable” friends you invite to your house. This is all that it is. Salem has always traded on her history and notably the Trials. It’s got nothing to do with religion.

    I would rather the city had some other revenue besides condos and tourism, but that horse left the barn many years ago. I’d even say that Mrs. Montgomery’s arrival in Salem 34 years ago sparked the current tourism industry we enjoy or suffer with, depending on your view. (So the statue is historic to my way of thinking.)

    BTW, there is a Witch Trial monument near downtown, past the rear of the Peabody Essex Museum. It’s tasteful. Doesn’t have “Never Again”, but it does have the purported final words of Giles Corey, which is close enough for me. (He was pressed to death without ever admitting he was a witch–and he wasn’t!)

    Take care,


  4. Jean-Paul Fastidious
    May 15th, 2005 @ 12:32 am

    David, if that’s the case, perhaps you should push to have a statue erected in honor of Gladys Kravitz, the busy-body neighbors of the Stephens family on Bewitched.

  5. MBains
    May 15th, 2005 @ 5:55 am

    Ignoring David’s rational and informative (and appreciated actually, thanks) advice:

    Samantha Stephens was not hanged or otherwise oppressed in Bewitched, and was not alive in 1692.

    Actually Samantha was in Salem near that time during one of the shows epidsodes. I’m thinkin’ that counts.

    She was also totally gorgeous so if they make the statue a Nude, I’m all for it. As long as its “tastefully done” of course.

    On a {ahem} serious note, if Klemper was an exiled Deutscher Jew, wouldn’t he be perfect for that TV Nazi statue? What better way to show forgiveness to your enemies than to play one on TV?

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