A strange and bitter crop


Jeffrey Lord has good news, America. You may have thought that Emmett Till and those like him who were killed by extrajudicial mobs were lynched. Killed in an effort not just to exact some sort of perverted justice, but to terrorize people, people whose skin happened to have a somewhat higher concentration of melanin than most Caucasians have.

But Jeffrey Lord has it straight, America. You see, Till was beaten, tortured, and murdered, as were a number of others throughout America in our long period of racial apartheid. But Till wasn’t hung – just like Bobby Hall, a relative of the recently vilified Shirley Sherrod, he was beaten to death. And that means that he wasn’t lynched.

And that makes Shirley Sherrod a lying lying liar who totally lied in her speech when cited Hall’s lynching in her speech to the NAACP.

Of course, here on planet Earth, people actually know the definition of lynching does not include hanging. True, hanging was a very common method of lynching, and it is perhaps the image that first springs to mind when one thinks of the terroristic act.

But lynching doesn’t require a rope. It just requires punishment to be extrajudicial and carried out by a mob – to be done without legal sanction. Beating someone to death for allegedly whistling at a white woman, or for stealing a tire? That’s lynching.

Of course, even if Lord was right, and lynching required hanging, few would quibble with her saying her relative’s beating death at the hands of police officers rose to the level of lynching. Few would argue that such a misstatement would rise to the level of a lie, or even a misstatement. Any decent human being, with a heart not made of stone and without a desire to punish Sherrod for the crime of being a black woman who won a battle with a white man – any decent human being, in other words – would view this not as a hook to hang a column on, but at best, a minor misstatement.

But of course, Sherrod made no mistake – none at all. She was telling the absolute, precise truth when she said that Bobby Hall was lynched at the hands of those police officers who took him into custody, killed because he was black at a time when such things were acceptable. And Lord, in his zeal to catch Sherrod in a lie, to prove that she is the real racist in all of this…well, once again, we are shown exactly where racism lies. Not in the woman whose family history is scarred by lynching, but in those who seek to minimize the vast horror of lynching to find a way, somehow, to paint whites as the true victims.