Erika DeMaria

The Modern-Day Witch Hunt: A Defense of TCCS

Erika DeMaria
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Dear students, faculty, Alumni, and families of Tri-City Christian School. You may have seen in the past few days a letter of petition that has been circulating over the internet. It is an appeal by a former student to the school and requests that, in light of the current “racial distress that our country is facing today,” the school take 5 specific steps towards fighting racism. The following are my thoughts and response to this letter:

Do you remember learning about the witch trials in school? Starting in the 15th century, they cropped up across Europe and the New World periodically for centuries. What began as a movement to root out demonic rituals and Satanic worship quickly disintegrated into a flood of riotous behavior and murderous mobs. The witch trials resulted in the death of many innocent people accused of witchcraft amidst the mass hysteria that was the inevitable result of condemning people with little evidence aside from public opinion.

Today, we look back on these farcical trials and see them for what they were: a gross injustice. And yet, looking at them, I can easily understand how they occurred. They were the result of fear and self-preservation. No doubt many looked around and saw the hostility and emotion of the leaders of the mobs. They saw the ease with which people were condemned. And, in a desperate attempt to prove their own innocence, they pointed to those around them. After all, no one can accuse you of witchcraft if you are helping to expose it, no matter how small or insignificant the act you are exposing.

And so, witchcraft was suddenly everywhere. The healer who gave a tincture to a sick child did not heal with herbs and medicines, but with spells and potions. The man who cheated on his wife did not do so of his own sinful volition, but because the woman put a spell on him and compelled him to lay with her. Nearly everywhere one looked, witchcraft was the cause of some calamity. Any mistake was the result of a spell; any misfortune, the result of demonic workings. And as the accusations began to fly and the death tolls rose, it became clear that no one was safe. It was no longer safe to simply not participate in witchcraft and demonic rituals. Now, if you truly wanted to prove yourself innocent, you had to join the mob. You had to stand with them against the works of Satan in the fight against evil. You had to voice your support for them, condemning and denouncing anything that was even remotely close to the dark arts and magic, even if you had never participated in them or come into contact with them yourself. For some, they were given a choice: denounce your witchcraft and confess that you are a follower of Satan, and you will be absolved. Refuse, and you will be killed. There was no other option. If one was innocent, they either had to admit guilt to a crime that they did not commit or be condemned for refusing to do so.

Today we face a new type of witch trials. And, like the witch trials of the past, they are rooted in a truth, but have been distorted and escalated due to fear, frenzied zealotry, and a desire for self-preservation. Our nation is currently alive with protests, riots, and demonstrations in the name of “Black Lives Matter.” The murder of George Floyd while in Police custody has been proclaimed an outright act of racism and has been designated as a sign of systemic racism that is infecting every facet of our country. In response, many have taken to the streets to make their voices heard, and others have set to work attacking institutions that have been identified as racist institutions. To oppose them or to offer a defense of those that they condemn is to demean the value of the lives of black men and women everywhere, or so they claim.

Now, let me be clear when I say this. The lives of black men, women, and children have value. I believe with every fiber of my being the words that were inscribed by Thomas Jefferson and the founding Fathers in the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal.” I do not care what color your skin is, what color your hair is, what color your eyes are. I do not care if you hold the same religious beliefs as me or hold the same core values as me. You matter. Your life matters. You hold intrinsic value. I believe this for the simple fact that you are a human being, a created child of the Most-High God, and you are, therefore, my brothers and sisters in humanity. So, yes, I believe that “all men are created equaland that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights,that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

This is the basic truth which I genuinely believe most people here in America hold to. It is what compels us to agree with the movement, because, yes, we know you matter. We know this to be true. You will get no argument from us there. And the fact that it even has to be stated seems ridiculous to me because it is, as our Founding Fathers said, “self-evident.”

This self-evident truth is the Truth on which these riots are based, and yet, like with the witch trials, the ensuing frenzy is unjustifiable. In a show of solidarity against racial injustice, Americans are banding together to root out even the faintest hint of racism. And, as with the witch trials, where suddenly witchcraft could be found everywhere, now too can racism be found in every facet of our society—even where it does not exist.

Our modern witch hunt sees our nation throwing accusations at every person or organization that does not instantly add their voice to the movement, no matter their reasons. We are told that if you do not add your voice to the cry, then you are the enemy—you are part of the problem. And an accusation is all that is needed, for in witch trials—unlike in a proper justice system—you are guilty until proven innocent. Thus, society is now condemning and sentencing innocent people, corporations, and organizations. The collateral damage that is being inflicted is unwarranted and unjustifiable. Property, businesses, and lives are being sacrificed for this cause, and we need to take a good, hard look at what the goals and motives of this movement are. Will people look back on this time in history as we do when we look back at the witch hunts and trials? Are we sparking a righteous revolution? Or are we slinging accusations anywhere we can in an attempt to keep ourselves clean in the eyes of the Political and Social Justice Warriors who are lighting pyres after pyre to burn all who dare to question them?

And thus, we arrive at the reason for this letter: the open letter assigning blame to Tri-City Christian Schools. Those who signed it and stand behind it ask that the school take steps to be “actively anti-racist as opposed to passively not racist.” The letter also includes several one-sided personal accounts of events that occurred at Tri-City over the years. It lays responsibility for these personal anecdotes at the feet of the School Board and Administration, and asks that they do more to prevent things like this from occurring again in the future.

All who have signed this petition, whether realizing it or not, have joined into the witch hunt. They have sent a letter to a school that is already struggling to deal with the chaos that the Covid-19 flu left in its wake, a school that is doing its best to provide a good quality education and firm spiritual foundation for students in a country that is growing more and more hostile towards Christianity every day, and they are laying yet another problem at its feet—a problem that really has nothing to do with the Administration or School itself. Yet, by adding theirs name to the letter, they are absolving themselves of racism and “doing their part” in the fight.

Let us consider the accounts included in the letter. They are all personal accounts of “micro aggressions” and comments made by students towards other students. But are the faculty, administration, and school board responsible for the actions of individual students who possess their own free will? Let us consider the account of another racial minority student who attended Tri-City:

“I am part Mexican, Sicilian, and Native American. I went to Tri-City for 13 years. I was truly blessed to have gone to that school. Many people have criticized the students who have gone there for being sheltered, but this was not so. Tri-City didn’t shelter students from the world, instead, it gave them the light by which to see in the darkness. Even I was made fun of for my ethnicity and the way I looked. I was called “Mexican,” a “beaner,” and at one point I was even called a “Camel Jockey.” The people who called me these things were not racists, and I do not hold anything against them because kids and young adults have always, since the dawn of time, made inappropriate jokes. Every human being has made at least one inappropriate joke in their lives. And yet, I would not be so naïve as to blame Tri-City for the way people act.”

Logically, let’s take this further. If the school is responsible for the racist comments of a few students, does it also follow that the school supports underaged drinking, sex outside of marriage, homosexuality, physical violence, drugs use, and a litany of other sins committed by the student population? Because I guarantee that there are many kids, past and present, at the school who participate in all of these things, despite the fact that the code of conduct that the school requires its students to sign explicitly condemns such things.

It is the responsibility of the school to deal with these things as they are brought to their attention, and all of these things were dealt with when the situations arose. People don’t always agree with the punishments. Sometimes people feel that they are too lenient, other times, too severe—oftentimes there are people in both camps over the exact same issue. It is easy to cast stones at leadership when you are only privy to some of the details. Many of the situations alluded to in the comments section are second and third hand accounts of events. There are 2 sides to every story, facts that were not relayed, and opinions rooted in emotions and perception rather than facts. I have personally spoken to others who witnessed and were involved in several of the situations alluded to in the first letter, and the accounts vary depending on who tells the story. By presenting only the account of the accusers, we have deprived the accused of giving their side of the story, and accepted a narrative that has not been fully examined. While I will not say that the school board or administration is perfect, I do believe that they strive to be just and fair and to uphold the Biblical principles and values on which the school was founded.

Thus, this letter is a defense of an institution that has been a part of my entire life, an institution that helped make me into the person that I am today. An institution that helped to prepare me, and many others like me, for life, success, and for the world. An institution that I now send my children to. Thank you for all that you have done. Thank you for the sacrifices you have made. For the lives you have impacted. Thank you. I stand with you, and I will speak up in your defense since so many have already condemned you without giving you the opportunity to defend yourselves against their accusations. I am sorry that you have become the latest target in an ever-growing movement of the masses that is seeking to find racism everywhere—even in places where it does not exist. I am speaking up to say ENOUGH! I will not sacrifice you on the pyre of social justice for the actions of a few individuals. I will not stand by and let people slander those of you who have served so many students faithfully over the years.

And for all those who would stand in agreement with me, for all those who see the trajectory of the current climate in our country, for all who look fondly on TCCS and the resources, mentoring, and love poured into the lives of you and your children, I ask that you stand in their defense as well. I ask that you speak up and say, enough! No more slinging of accusations with no thought for the damage and division they are causing. Will you speak up in their defense, even if the mob threatens to turn on you as well? Because this is getting out of hand, and we can no longer stand idly by.

6/15/2020 UPDATE:Update:

To everyone who has signed and shown support to the school and faculty for coming under fire unjustly, I would like to say Thank you. I honestly only expected a few signatures because I understand the times that we live in right now, and, sadly, standing up to defend a person or institution that is coming under unwarranted scrutiny can be terrifying. I know that signing your name, for some, was not easy because doing so would bring scrutiny and harassment. I can speak of this personally, because in the last few days I and my husband have been harassed repeatedly, being called racist trolls, compared to the KKK, and told that we were a waste of ‘reproductive material’ (this was not the term that was used, but I don’t particularly care to repeat their words verbatim).

In addition to the not-so-kindly-worded criticism, I have also received an abundance of private messages from people who also share love and support for the staff, but feared to sign for the reasons above. So, for those of you who were brave enough to sign, thank you. And for those who feared retribution, I get it. Your love and well wishes will be passed on to the school.

As stated earlier in the letter, my desire was to voice our support and appreciation for the teachers and administrators who have poured a lot of energy, time, and love into the students over the years. I would love to continue that love and support for them. If you would like to message any teachers personally to share your gratitude and appreciation for their service over the years, I am sure they would be blessed to hear from you. Their school emails can be found on the school website. I would love it if we could flood them with kind words and well wishes. Thank you, once again, for your support of the school. I know it has blessed many as it has blessed me over the years. They deserve better.


Dear Petitioners,

Erika and I wish to thank all of those with the courage to sign this petition. In truth, we expected only a handful of signatures, and we are astonished as to how many we received. Additionally, many more reached out to us (and to members of the faculty) privately to voice their support, but they were afraid to sign for fear of unfairly being labeled racist. Sadly, their fears were not unfounded. Multiple signers of this petition have experienced unwarranted harassment from some of the supporters of the other petition. It is for this reason that Erika and I feel validated in our belief that the original petition, the one against TCCS, was largely a “bullying act.”

We consider our petition to be a victory, quite simply, because we accomplished our goal. We have proven that, despite what people may say, we will not be swayed to compromise truth for the sake of emotion. Additionally, the intended audience of this petition—the faculty of TCCS—are moved by your signatures. Many faculty members expressed deep hurt at the way the initial signers approached the situation, and having the support of many families and former students of TCCS, encouraged them and let them know that we too felt that this petition was unfairly deposited upon their shoulders. You did not sign in vain.

Thank you for standing with us. We are not out of the woods yet. Other schools have received the same petition. The same accusations. America needs to unite during these times. Don’t be silent. Stand up for truth and stand against injustice—whether it be standing up to actual racists or to the social justice warriors who are adopting bullying and racism as their own tactics now. Stand for what is right.

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