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73 Years Of Lynchings In America—-And Hideous Events In The Middle East

February 11, 2015

Hat Tip to Betsy.

We ask “How can people do hideous things like behead people or burn them alive?” We have in our own shameful history the answer. Since potential for this kind of evil exists in all people, let’s refuse to dehumanize anyone but face the hard work of ending violence.

For instance In Phillips County Ark., 237 people were lynched in 1919 during the Elaine race riot.

The most recent data on lynching, compiled by the Equal Justice Initiative, shows premeditated murders carried out by at least three people from 1877 to 1950 in 12 Southern states. The killers claimed to be enforcing some form of social justice. The alleged offenses that prompted the lynchings included political activism and testifying in court.  (Click link above for larger view and graph details.)


  1. Monica permalink
    February 6, 2018 6:34 PM

    I want to thank you for the point you make! Our history is not pure.

  2. tom permalink
    February 12, 2015 9:03 PM

    Perhaps we should have spent more time worrying about small-pox blankets used as biological warfare before we landed on Normandy? Nobody has forgotten any of the sins in America’s past–or downplaying events like what happened today or, for example, at the Sikh Temple.

  3. February 11, 2015 8:17 PM


    You may want to re-examine where the anti-gay laws came from in many Middle Eastern nations. Ones that were controlled by the British Empire are much more likely to have laws that criminalize homosexual conduct than former colonies of other European powers. There are many ways to debate this issue and the larger one about my post. I think it vital to not forget from where we came. We used smallpox as a tool in our arsenal when it came to native residents of this land–and the list goes on and on. I am in no way giving an inch when it comes to my outrage over the barbaric actions of ISIs, but I also think we can never get too high on our perch to forget our own history.

  4. tom permalink
    February 11, 2015 7:52 PM

    The graph certainly does not answer to question. What it does show is a country growing morally and striving and working always toward greater freedom, humanity and inclusiveness. Consider the great self examination of the country in the wake of the deaths of minority men in the past year, for example. Then place these events in the context of a man and wife burned to death because the allegedly harmed a book while hundreds–and likely more than a thousand–looked on and did nothing. While the “answer” may be in our history, it is in their present.

    Oh heaven forfend that we “demonize” a culture so barbaric–one that has a gigantic history of slavery–one much deeper and more perverse by far than our own–one that systematically oppresses women, gays, and anyone who practices another religion. I know there are moderates, but like the “good” Germans of 1939, they are irrelevant.

    What a shocking misreading of history and low moral reasoning to compare what America did in the past to what is all too common in Middle-East and other places today. Those Americans are dead and gone. Crimes like they committed would be met with instant shock and horror today in America. You might as well have pointed to the atrocities of Ghingis Kahn because that would have been an equally appropriate comparison.

    And one has to ask, what are you trying to explain, justify, or rationalize?

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