If you thought lynchings were left behind in the 1960s, think again. This week it was revealed that a biracial 8-year old boy was nearly lynched for being part black by a group of white teenagers in New Hampshire. As seen in the photo to the right, the victim survived with only cuts and rope burns. This is not an isolated incident.
In the wake of the 2016 elections, racists and bigots have been emboldened to express their views. The Southern Poverty Law Center cataloged over 1,000 reported hate crimes within the first month after President Donald Trump won, according to Slate. CNN reports “there have been at least 153 racist incidents on 108 campuses across 34 states” based on findings by the Anti-Defamation League.
Perpetrators of hate crimes often align themselves with the far-right, as seen with the Ku Klux Klan’s endorsement of Trump during his campaign and various hate messages left by Trump supporters after the election. Conservative politicians have enabled this behavior.
A major example is Trump’s tepid response to the “Unite the Right” rally. By saying there was “violence on many sides” and that there are “good people” on the side of the alt-right, he draws a false equivalence between the extremists and their opposition. Most importantly, white supremacists were elated with Trump’s statements.
According to CNN, “the President left the definition of both ‘hatred’ and ‘violence’ up to interpretation and handed the groups a rhetorical victory.”
However, let’s not forget the Republican lawmakers who voiced support for lynchings to protect Confederate statues.
Missouri state representative Warren Love explicitly promoted the lynching of those who vandalize Confederate statues. On Aug. 30, he wrote “I hope they are found & hung from a tall tree with a long rope” in a Facebook post.
Earlier, Mississippi state representative Karl Oliver said that leaders who remove Confederate monuments “should be LYNCHED” on Facebook in May. He later removed it from public viewing and apologized for his word choice: “the word ‘lynched’ was wrong. I am very sorry. It is in no way, ever, an appropriate term.”
It was the second lynching controversy that month after a Neo-Nazi group hung nooses tied with bananas at American University. The harassment came in response to the election of Taylor Dumpson as the college’s first black student government president.
It’s simple: violent rhetoric encourages violent action. Trump and other members of the far-right have normalized bigotry by wanting to ban Muslims, deport all undocumented immigrants, reinstate stop-and-frisk. These ideas are reversing the progress America has made on tolerance.
Worst of all, none of this is new. America has gone through many periods of discrimination and intimidation. We must remember that, as a nation of immigrants, we must embrace diversity and fight against bigotry in every way possible.