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Do We Need A Lynching Memorial And Is It Helpful?

The National Memorial for Peace and Justice, taken from

I saw a news story that proclaimed the opening of a new memorial  this week in Alabama called the National Memorial for Peace and Justice. The memorial will commemorate the lynching of some 4000 blacks in America from shortly after the Civil War until 1950.

Visitors to the new National Memorial for Peace and Justice first glimpse them, eerily, in the distance: Brown rectangular slabs, 800 in all, inscribed with the names of more than 4,000 souls who lost their lives in lynchings between 1877 and 1950.

The period covered here is 73 years. 4000 lynchings in 73 years works out to 54 per year.

I want to tread carefully here because a clumsy reading of what comes next could be misinterpreted, intentionally or unintentionally, as suggesting that lynching was not a big deal.

It was. 

Most lynchings were murder, pure and simple, and the use of hanging to murder black men carried a clear message of racial hatred to black men: step out of line and you can find yourself at the end of a rope. It was a form of domestic terrorism and it is a stain on the history of the United States.

So why even bring it up?

I bring it up because much of the black community is stuck in the world of 50 years ago. Blacks deal with disproportionate levels of crime, poverty, family breakdown and other social ills compared to other races but no one wants to talk about that, instead we always end up talking about the past.

For example, Chicago alone has seen more murders in the last decade than the total number of recorded lynchings and most of those were black men killed by other black men. In cities around the country it is not unusual for there to be as many black men killed in a year by other black men as were lynched on average more than half a century ago. According to this report,

FACT 1. Over 1,400 more black Americans murdered other blacks in two years than were lynched from 1882 to 1968.
According to FBI data, 4,906 black people murdered other blacks in 2010 and 2011. That is 1,460 more black Americans killed by other blacks in two years than were lynched from 1882 to 1968, according to the Tuskegee Institute.

Not only are black men murdered at a staggering rate, it is important to recognize that black men are committing murder at an equally staggering rate. At less than 7% of the population, black men commit over half of all murders in this country and most of those are black men murdering other black men. There are a lot of reasons for this but I wouldn’t think that insufficient awareness of lynchings in the South from half a century ago is a significant factor.

A young black man is under no serious, credible threat of being lynched in 2018. Nor was he in 2008 or 1998 or 1988. He really isn’t in much danger statistically-speaking from  the cops either, in spite of the hysterical rhetoric, especially if he is not committing a crime. However a young black man is in a great deal of danger of being murdered in 2018 by another young black man.

That is a REAL problem and it is happening NOW, not more than 50 years ago.

Here is another real number. On average nearly a thousand black babies are aborted every day. In a week more black babies are killed in the womb than the total of blacks lynched throughout the ugly 73 year period when lynchings were taking place in this country but few advocates of “Peace and Justice” seem to care about that. From the article linked above, you can see how devastating abortion has been to the black community.

From 1973 to 2012, abortion reduced the black population by 30%, and that doesn’t even factor in all the children that would have been born to those aborted a generation ago. To put it bluntly, abortion has thinned the black community in ways the Ku Klux Klan could have only dreamed of.

The Klan is not a threat to blacks today. Nor are lynch mobs. “Doctors” in an sterile, professional abortion clinic? That is where the genocide is happening and it is happening with the tacit approval of the United States government and the tax dollars of working Americans.

That is a REAL problem and it is happening NOW, not more than 50 years ago.

My concern is simple. By endlessly revisiting the past and assigning all blame for current problems on events from more than half a century ago, it becomes very easy to ignore contemporary problems and to spend all of our time looking over our shoulders. As someone who is a very amateur historian I think history is critically important but not at the expense of looking around at where we are today.

The mere sight of a noose can send people into a panic even though no one has been lynched in this country since before I was born. Last June a noose was allegedly discovered at the National Museum of African American History and Culture and the whole place was shut down. No suspect was ever identified and no one was ever arrested as far as I can tell, which makes one suspect the whole thing was a hoax, as so many “hate crimes” turn out to be.

Meanwhile former mediocre NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick is still invoking the spectre of lynching in completely unrelated events, like in his acceptance speech of an award from Amnesty International.

“Racialized oppression and dehumanization is woven into the very fabric of our nation — the effects of which can be seen in the lawful lynching of black and brown people by the police, and the mass incarceration of black and brown lives in the prison industrial complex,” Kaepernick said.

Wow, it is amazing that no NFL team has grabbed this prize, a guy who can’t or won’t distinguish between the complicated issue of police using lethal force while carrying out their duties versus a lynch mob hanging a black man for looking at a white woman.

Keeping people terrified of the bogeymen of the past is big business. The ironically named Southern Poverty Law Center, a group that ostensibly tracks “hate groups”, has amassed a massive endowment of nearly half a billion dollars while having top executives that look pretty white to me, all making rather nice salaries from an organization that talks so much about poverty and justice. Like I said, big business indeed.

As long as blacks, and the liberal whites that profit from enabling and encouraging this endless rear-view mirror mindset, focus only on the past and never on the future, the plight of black Americans will never get any better. Even after two terms of a black President, can anyone argue race relations and the situation for blacks is improving? Ironically it is under a man many call a racist, Donald Trump, that black unemployment is finally going down. We are as divided as we have been in my lifetime.

I am not telling blacks that they should just get over lynching but I certainly am suggesting that the issues that plague blacks today have little to nothing to do with the domestic terrorism of the early 20th century and that their focus would be better placed on what is going on now that black women are aborting their children by the thousands a week and black men are murdering each other by the thousands each year.

Lynching was an evil practice that went on for far too long in this country. It deserves to be remembered for the evil that it was but remembering lynching and creating a memorial isn’t going to do anything to solve the modern day problems of blacks in America in 2018 and beyond.

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