North Texas Daily

Parallels between ‘80s Satanic Panic and modern Islamophobia

Parallels between ‘80s Satanic Panic and modern Islamophobia

February 18
00:10 2016

Sidney Johnson | Staff Writer


We as humans tend to fear what we don’t understand, creating demons in our own conscience about issues we may not be completely versed in.

The negative association of immorality equates the Satanist community to terrorism often associated with Islam. A few bad apples have the potential to erode an entire way of life, and their repercussions can have a chilling effect.

When the topic of Satanism is brought forth, two names are synonymous: Aleister Crowley and Anton Lavey.

Crowley was a University of Cambridge educated occultist the British media once deemed the “Wickedest Man in the World.” The crux of his teachings was to “do what thou wilt,” and Crowley used this to form “The Book of the Law” and expanded to usher in a new era of human evolution. But before Crowley died in 1947, he inspired another.

Anton Szandor LaVey, just 17-years-old at the time of Crowley’s death, saw religion as a pitiful, man-made crutch believers relied on to create meaning of the world. He then went on to create the Church of Satan in 1966, and considering the word Satan is Hebrew for “oppressor,” it is no surprise that the majority of Americans deemed LaVey a threat to the common good, even a criminal. This accompanied a resurgence of interest in the occult as America transitioned into a period of civil unrest- think “Rosemary’s Baby,” “The Omen” and “The Exorcist.”

As the free-love era of the ‘60s and the hippie-nihilist era of the ‘70s were replaced with the renewed morality of the Reagan era, Americans became obsessed, not with the occult itself, but with the idea that Satanists were practicing ritualistic murder, animal sacrifice and child abuse under their noses.

Perhaps the most bizarre occurrence of this was the McMartin Preschool Abuse trial. The case against Ray Buckey, the son of the owners of the preschool, stands as the longest and most expensive criminal trial in American history.

As the case went on the defendant’s claims became more bizarre. Judy Johnson claimed that Buckey’s mother had taken the boy to a church to watch the beheading of an infant, as well as drink the blood. Furthermore, she claimed that Ray had sodomized her son while his head was in a toilet.

Buckey was eventually cleared of all charges, but he and his family’s reputation as caregivers were severely damaged. Accusations like these were common during this time, though this remains the most extreme example. This is troubling, as it has been determined in the decades following this moral outrage that there was not a single instance that organized, murderous satanic practice has ever taken place – seriously, ever.

Jump forward to modern day, and while Americans have mostly reduced their fear of Satanic cults to the lore of “found-footage films,” they have created new Public Enemy No. 1: Muslims.

Armed “militias” standing outside of mosques in Irving; the Omaha Islamic Center vandalized in Nebraska; a Houston mosque being set on fire Christmas day.

Noticing a pattern here? 

This distrust of those not seen as the “norm” (White, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant) is unfounded, harmful and ultimately on par with that of rock music being played backward to reveal messages from the Prince of Darkness himself.

The overall point is as follows: the American populace tends to create a scapegoat in that which they do not understand.

In the age of Facebook, it has become all too easy to share information without doing the diligence of checking its credibility, its relevancy or its potential to do damage. Attempting to see things beyond one’s own perspective can assure that the U.S. doesn’t invest itself indicting another Ray Buckey instead of focusing on problems of real magnitude.

It’s time to grow up.

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