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June 15, 2005


Add the Minutemen, pathetic though they might be, as an example of flouting the rule of law.

Yeah, great example.

Hell, the entire far right militia movement, the Randall Terry idiots, even the Schaivo affair--all rejections of the notion that we're a nation of laws.

Bravo. Lynching = Terrorism.

And what does our President tell us about those who shelter terrorists?

The Witch Trial connection: Black lynching victims were often leading citizens -- pillars of the local black community, people who might have owned property, held influence, and stood up for their (limited) rights.

"Witches" were not all old women with too many cats. IN many cases they were women who had stood up to and prevailed over men in property disputes.

And property disputes were definitely a factor in a lot of lynchings. Sometimes it was because a black sharecropper was demanding fair payment, other times it was because the lynched black man owned some land that would revert to someone else.

And lots of lynchings in the west were over property disputes.

Excellent post.

Clearly I need to spend more time hanging out at TNH. Something was clearly missing from the discussion of the lynching resolution over at dKos -- and after reading the posts here, it's clear that there's WAY more to this than I'd thought.

DH, Kagro -- thanks!

On-topic: do the Senators who refused to associate themselves with this resolution feel so safe in their home states that they can afford to cater openly to violent racist sentiment?

As I noted in email, the Mormon migration to Utah was in part an artifact of a lynching:

Smith and his brother Hyrum, along with several other leaders of the Mormons, were promised protection from the angry Gentile mobs by the governor of Illinois and eventually surrendered to authorities. While locked in the Carthage city jail, the men were set upon by vigilantes who stormed the jail and found that the state militia, which had been guarding the Mormons, was nowhere to be found. As he stood in front of a small window in his cell, Joseph Smith was shot and killed. To make sure the prophet was really dead, the mob dragged his body outside, where several more volleys were fired into it. Hyrum Smith was also murdered that night.
Grievances had included the Mormon's heresy, militancy, separatism, communism, polygamy ... and their unexpected success cultivating less desirable lands around their settlement in Nauvoo, IL.

Great post. I think the "rule of law" point is an important one, and has roots in history as well. By the early 20th century, there were elite and middle class white Southerners who opposed lynching not because they gave a damn about African Americans' civil rights, but because they believed that lynch mobs--which they often saw as composed of unruly, lower class white men--were usurping the powers of state and trampling the "majesty of the law."

I was a bit troubled by the headline. Lynching wasn't only about race and the South, but typically it was--which I think the body of your post recognizes. I'm perhaps over-sensitive to that point because it reminds me of the longstanding practice of white Southerners who make excuses for anything bad in the region's history--like lynching and segregation--by saying the "North did it too." While that's often true in some sense, it's typically used as a means to evade rather than recognize historical responsibility--which obviously isn't your intent.

That pet peeve notwithstanding--great post.

FWIW, I posted about this post over at Total Information Awareness . Since I'm guest blogging there, I couldn't do a trackback...

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