In Trump’s America: The Open Revival of KKK-Style Terror

Mississippi Legislator Calls for Lynching Opponents of Confederate Monuments

May 26, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper |


For 150 years the South has been awash in Confederate flags and scarred by hundreds of monuments to so-called “heroes” of the Confederacy—people who led a bloody war to maintain and expand the enslavement of Black people. These flags and monuments were and are a means not just to celebrate one of the most monstrous “causes” in human history, but to assert dominance over and terrorize Black people today. They are instruments of white supremacy.

In recent years, thousands of people have been struggling to take these hateful symbols down. Now, in defense of these symbols—and of the modern-day leader and representative of all that, Donald Trump—reactionaries are reviving a legacy of threats and terror.

On May 20, Mississippi State Representative Karl Oliver posted on Facebook that anyone wanting to “destroy historical monuments of OUR HISTORY… should be LYNCHED!” (Emphasis in original)

A few days later Oliver “apologized” for his “choice of words.” But he knew exactly what he was saying—for almost a century, lynching was the cutting edge of the terror directed at Black people in the South, sowing the fear that forced people to accept daily insult and discrimination, and to labor from dawn to dusk in fields only to end up in debt. And lynching was no secret

At least 3,959 Black people were lynched by whites in the South—576 in Mississippi alone—between 1877 and 1950. In 1937, right in Oliver’s district, two Black men were tied to a tree and burned to death before a mob of 500; the next day the local paper ran gruesome photos. In 1955, 14-year-old Emmett Till was beaten, tortured, and drowned by a group of white men who were acquitted by an all-white jury and then went about bragging that they did it. That was in Money, Mississippi, also in Oliver’s district.

Oliver knows what it means to invoke lynching, just like the two other Mississippi state legislators, and the Highway Patrol Public Affairs Officer who rushed to “like” Oliver’s post before it was taken down.

And this is not just some backwater Mississippi thing.

  • In New Orleans, after the City Council voted to take down four Confederate monuments, a contractor was hired to do the work but quit after receiving death threats and his car was set afire. Another was told his son would be killed, his wife raped. According to the mayor, “Anybody who anybody has known is involved in this in any way has received threats,” including from the KKK.
  • After Texas Congressman Al Green said on the House floor that Trump should be impeached, he was flooded with telephone lynching threats, like “You’re not going to impeach anybody, you fucking nigger. You’ll be hanging from a tree.” (The Houston Chronicle posted audio of three of these calls.)
  • In Charlottesville, Virginia, a nighttime rally of 100 people with burning torches, some with automatic weapons, chanted “We [white people] will not be replaced.” A Black councilman received death threats and was told he should be “taken out behind the woodshed.”

These are just a few examples of the vigilante threats and violence, including murder, that are on the rise in the era of Trump. Trump didn’t invent these people—they are the product of the whole U.S. history of white supremacy, which has been essential to the wealth and power of this country. But from the beginning of his campaign, Trump has embraced and relied on them, encouraging violence at his rallies, refusing to seriously denounce the Klansmen and Nazis who enthusiastically supported him, appointing white supremacist Jeff Sessions as Attorney General and “ethno-nationalist” Steve Bannon as his chief strategic advisor.

Trump has signaled to the vilest forces in U.S. society that he is their man, and this is their time. And now, especially as the Trump/Pence regime faces opposition from many sides, these violent racist reactionaries are stepping out even more in an effort to defend their leaders and symbols, leaders and symbols of savage oppression. The time is now to mobilize millions of people to drive out this fascist regime.

All this is evidence enough, not just of the horror of Trump’s Amerikkka, but of how this whole system, from its very roots in slavery down to the present moment, has always abetted and encouraged, and has built into its very fabric the most horrific oppression of Black people. And evidence as well of the need for this system to be gone, which only the people can do through a total emancipatory revolution to wipe out the oppression of Black people as an integral part of the emancipation of all of humanity.




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