Lynching – is it racist?

Let me start off by saying, lynching is NOT good. Or nice. Not in any way.

With that out of the way to start, let me add that I can see no way in which lynching can be considered “racist.” Nor can referring to someone being lynched be racist. Not unless you are saying that someone should be lynched because of their ethnic or cultural background (“race” if you will). Certainly you cannot be racist if you are speaking about yourself being lynched. Regardless of the background/race/etc. of those whom you say are trying to lynch you.

Not even if your name is Donald Trump.

Now, maybe it is my own Western background. Maybe it is also my childhood, and being raised as a christian in a Texan family. Lynching is a long (and some would say “honorable” or at least “notable”) tradition in the West, and even in Texas. It goes a long ways back, and like many other bits of Texan and Western vernacular, it had Celtic origins. The eggheads tell us it may have first been used in 1811 in Virginia, based on events from 30+ years earlier, when a man named Lynch organized a “vigilance committee” to keep order in his town in southwestern Virginia. Others say that it actually comes from way back in 1493 in Galway (Ireland) when James Lynch Fitzstephen hung his own son for murdering a Spaniard.

In Texas and the West, a lot of people were lynched back in the 1800s. No doubt some of them were black, just as some of them were AmerInd and some were Mexican. But as I recall from my history studies, most of them were “Anglos” or “settlers” – which is a generic term used to refer to anyone who was NOT black or Mexican or AmerInd: it included Italians and Germans and Scots and Irish and English and even (gasp) a few French and other Canadians. Most commonly it was being a horse thief or a rustler (cow thief). Sometimes it was for robbing banks or holding up stages. Sometimes it was for rape or arson. Sometimes it was for being a sheepman in cattle country. Or for being a dirt-farmer (sodbuster) in cow country.

At least once that I know of, it was for threatening to kill someone. (I researched and wrote about that years ago, as “A Case of Preventative Justice.”) That happened in Golden City, Jefferson Territory (now Colorado) back in 1859 or 1860. And no, the guy wasn’t black.

Often, what was characterized and labeled as “lynching” was a more informal method of dealing out justice than the government in the area (whether it had control or not) deemed as “formal” enough. Although beloved of Western fiction writers, not all lynching was done by mobs. Indeed, many times there WAS a jury and there WAS a judge. Maybe just not a judge elected at a regularly scheduled general election or appointed by “competent authority.” There were, often enough, lynchings done by mobs, or by “legally-constituted authority” (such as an appointed marshal or elected sheriff and their subordinates or posses), just not in a legal manner.

Frontier justice, or rough justice, was common. Just as other customs of civilized and established places were replaced by frontier methods. Or because there was no “organized” government to do things. Just as there were no “organized churches” to ordain sky-pilots (preachers), no duly-constituted school boards to hire schoolmarms (teachers), no law schools (or bars), no dental or medical schools, etc. People found ways to work around them. Sometimes they did a poor job – but not always.

Usually (again, not always), lynching is associated with hanging, that being a convenient, cheap, relatively safe method of execution. And generally preferred as being both public and painful. Hanging “by the neck until dead” also has a long history – clear back to “hanging them higher than Haman” in ancient Susa of Persia, as recorded in the Biblical book of Esther. (Note, what Haman had planned for Mordacai can best be described as “judicial murder” and what Mordacai and his fellow Hebrews did to Haman could be labeled as lynching.) However, many “extra-judicial” or “informal” executions of accused criminals (whether really guilty or not) could be considered lynching but involved shooting them or more exotic methods (defenestration, for example).

But more to the point, the word “lynching” has been used in a more, well, gentle way by Westerners, in more modern times. Westerners tend to exaggerate to make a point about things. (The technical term is “hyperbole.” Paul the apostle was a master of that, in his Biblical writings.) We use words like “panic” to talk about reacting to an unforeseen situation, even if the reaction doesn’t meet the psychological definition of “panic.” And we use the word “lynch” to speak of people behaving like a mob and out to get someone. Not necessarily killed or physically harmed. Getting fired, getting run out of town on a rail, getting blamed for whatever, all can be reasons for saying, “I just got lynched by that #$$#$E@&.” Or telling someone “You’re gonna get lynched if you do that.”

I realize that Trump is a New Yorker, but like all of us, he picks up slang from virtually anywhere. And I see that (by Western standards, at least) Trump is fully justified in using the term. And is not being racist in any way.

Indeed, those who accuse him of such racism (not just for this one word) have more indications of truly being racist, “deep in their hearts.” Their intense sensitivity to such words is one indication.

And I would indeed agree with Trump: they are trying to lynch him. Justified or not, they are trying to use extra-legal means. Actually, ANY means, to get him. Whether that is getting him out of office, or in prison, or dead, is immaterial.

About TPOL Nathan

Follower of Christ Jesus (a christian), Pahasapan (resident of the Black Hills), Westerner, Lover of Liberty, Free-Market Anarchist, Engineer, Army Officer, Husband, Father, Historian, Writer, Evangelist. Successor to Lady Susan (Mama Liberty) at TPOL.
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2 Responses to Lynching – is it racist?

  1. Darkwing says:

    Lynching is not racist, it was a form of execution. BUT the sheeple have done different and made it racist. We should bring it back and have it on prime time TV.


    • TPOL Nathan says:

      Which raises an entirely different topic of discussion: can private justice systems include the death penalty? Heinlein and Bussjaeger have both in essence said yes to that idea. Especially in a system where no one has their money stolen to lock people up in little rooms.


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