Monday, June 20, 2016

Radical Islamists and the American Far Right: Cousins of the Terrorist Kind

An investigator examines the scene of James Howell's arrest [Los Angeles Times]

The gay community in Los Angeles, seemingly, got very lucky last weekend. Especially compared to their counterparts in Orlando.

A 21-year-old Indiana man with a car full of guns and bomb-making chemicals was arrested by Santa Monica police Saturday. He told police he was going to the Los Angeles gay-pride parade later that day, but didn’t say what he had in mind.

James Wesley Howell
In the car was an astonishing arsenal: a loaded AR-15 assault rifle rigged to allow 60 shots to be fired without pausing, two other loaded rifles, a stun gun, a hunting knife, loads of ammunition, and a trunkful of chemicals mixed and ready to explode as a car bomb. It soon emerged that the man – James Wesley Howell of Charlestown – had a history of violent confrontations and gun-related criminal charges, and was fleeing charges of child molestation when he left Indiana.

The situation spoke ominously of an imminent domestic-terrorism attack – especially in light of the massacre that had occurred at the gay nightclub Pulse in Orlando late Saturday. However, since none of his arsenal was used and no violence committed, Howell was only charged with a variety of felonies related to bomb and gun possession. The parade went off without notable incident, though anti-gay protesters were present and visible.

The outcome stood in stark contrast to what occurred that same evening at Pulse, when a 29-year-old New York-born Floridian of Afghani descent named Omar Mateen walked in with a semiautomatic rifle and began blasting patrons at will, leaving 49 people dead and another 54 wounded before Mateen himself was killed by police. Mateen claimed to a 911 dispatcher that he was acting on behalf of the Islamic State in Syria (ISIS), though in fact he had had no previous affilitation with these radical Islamists.

The Orlando massacre sparked an Islamophobic backlash, with some radicals calling for the immediate deportation of all Muslims from the United States and arming U.S. citizens in response. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump used the occasion to declare himself “right” for his earlier declarations about Muslims, and doubled down by reiterating his earlier call for Muslims to be banned from entering the United States. He also suggested that President Obama might be secretly conspiring on behalf of the terrorists.

In the meantime, reporting on the potential terrorist attack on the Los Angeles gay-pride event was subdued, since whatever Howell had been planning was diverted when police pulled him over in a traffic stop and found the arsenal. It was further complicated by the eventual discovery that Howell was himself bisexual, and his friends and family indicated he had no known animus toward gays and lesbians.

In a similar vein, it soon emerged that Mateen had actually frequented Pulse and had advertised on gay hookup forums, raising further doubts about the extent of his supposed Islamic radicalism. FBI director James Comey told reporters that he was “highly confident” that Mateen had been radicalized through the Internet, and was not acting on behalf of international terrorist organizations.

The ongoing questions about the motivations of both Mateen and Howell made murky at best any public understanding of the two incidents – which were seemingly unconnected, especially when it came to the specific motives and backgrounds of the actors involved. One seemed clearly inspired by Islamist anti-western rhetoric, while the other seemed at most fueled by the typical far-right-wing loathing of gays with an added twist of self-loathing.

Yet they were in fact deeply connected by the simple reality that both represented acts of domestic terrorism directed at LGBT targets, and both occurred on the same evening, separated only by a few hours. And coming to terms with these acts – both in a realistic sense and with the hope of taking action that actually prevents them from bubbling up in the first place – requires understanding them as closely related, two aspects of the same vicious and hateful coin: right-wing extremism.

The murders, and the near-miss, this weekend were not, of course, the first time that gay and lesbian establishments have been the targets of terrorist acts. Indeed, this sort of violence is hauntingly familiar to anyone who has tracked the history of hate crimes and other vicious acts that have been the horrifying reality for most members of the LGBT community for the past half-century and longer. Indeed, LGBT people are the minority group most likely to attract hate-crime violence in America, and have been for some time.

Until recent years, the violence has emanated primarily from two sources: hate groups, particularly neo-Nazi and skinhead groups as well as various Klan organizations, all of whom have placed the LGBT community as one of their most loathed targets; and far-right evangelical Christians, particularly those who claim that the Bible demands the death penalty for homosexuality, and the radicals who act on those beliefs.

Here’s a brief history of domestic terrorism directed at LGBT people in the United States:

May 12, 1990: Several members of the neo-Nazi Aryan Nations organization from Hayden Lake in northern Idaho are arrested and charged with plotting to kill dozens, if not hundreds, of patrons at Neighbours, a Seattle gay bar. Their plan included a “kill zone” strategy in which the explosives would be placed inside the bar, with other bombs placed outside it; the plotters intended to call the bar, warn that a bomb was about to go off, and then set off the secondary charges as the disco cleared out, maximizing the number of fatalities. A trio of “Aryans” were arrested at their motel with a van stockpiled with pipe-bomb parts, a .12-gauge shotgun, a .38-caliber revolver, a stun gun, knives and a pile of hate literature. A fourth man was arrested in Idaho for the plot. Three of the men were convicted and sent to federal prison.
The ruins of the Otherside Lounge in Atlanta, bombed by Eric Rudolph

February 21, 1997: Still uncaught after having set off a backpack bomb at the venue for the Olympic Games the summer before that killed a spectator and injured 111 others, far-right evangelical terrorist Eric Robert Rudolph sets off a bomb containing nails at the Otherside Lounge, a lesbian nightclub in Atlanta. Though the bomb was designed to cause maximum injury to the patrons, only five bar patrons were injured. After he was sentenced to five consecutive life terms for his several bombings, Rudolph issued a statement calling homosexuality an "aberrant lifestyle".

September 22, 2000: A self-described “Christian soldier working for my Lord” named Ronald Gay enters a gay bar in Roanoke, Va., and opens fire on the patrons. One of them, a 43-year-old named Danny Overstreet, was killed, and six others were severely injured. Gay later told his attorneys that he was angry over the change of meaning for his surname to include homosexuality, and he had been told by God to find and kill lesbians and gay men. Gay later testified in court that "he wished he could have killed more fags."

February 2, 2006: An 18-year-old named Jacob D. Robida, who had a fetish about neo-Nazism as well as the rap group Insane Clown Posse (known for its dark and violent lyrics) entered a bar in New Bedford, Mass., and upon confirming that it was a gay bar, began attacking patrons – first, with a hatchet that he swung at a man’s head, injuring him, and then with a handgun that he produced when other patrons tackled him and took away the hatchet; three more were injured in the ensuing gunfire. Robida fled the bar and was confronted three days later in Arkansas by police there, at which point he fatally shot himself.

Eric Rudolph
Prior to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, most Americans readily thought of radicals like Rudolph and his far-right cohort, Timothy McVeigh, as the terrorists they clearly were. After 9/11, however, the picture became increasingly muddled, as public and law-enforcement officials, as well as the media, increasingly focused on the image of terrorism as emanating solely from turbaned, Arabic-speaking radicals inspired by extreme Islamic fundamentalism, or Islamism, as it’s popularly known.

It’s also worth recalling that the American far right – particularly the neo-Nazis and white supremacists who are among the most vicious homophobes most often associated with hate crimes and terrorist anti-LGBT violence – openly celebrated those Islamist attacks on Americans back in 2001, just as they recently celebrated the Orlando massacre. (Wrote Andrew Anglin, editor of the neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer: “From the bottom of my heart, and on behalf of all neo-Nazi White supremacists, I want to offer a sincere ‘thank you’ to Omar.")

That is because even though the nominal wellsprings of their ideology may differ widely – i.e., either white-supremacist/neo-Nazi ideology or far-right Christianist ideology, or extreme Islamic fundamentalism – the cores of their respective appeals, as well as the psychological profiles of the people they attract as followers, is remarkably similar in nature as well as outcomes. They have the same enemies, and the same targets, because they think and behave in remarkably similar ways.

As one of Rudolph’s victims recently told a reporter: “I always thought Rudolph was like ISIS,” McMahon said. “He comes from the same core.”

In the end, both a religious and cultural variations of right-wing extremism. And what they share in common is much more substantial than the differences of their nominal religions.

As Joshua Holland recently observed, in an ironic kind of twist, the absolutism associated with the most fanatical expressions of their respective religions, which in turn induces them to denounce “unbelievers” of other faiths, is something they all share: “The details differ, but the defining characteristic of all right-wing religionists is an abiding contempt for religious pluralism. They deny the legitimacy of other faiths. All conservative religious traditions are hostile toward gays and lesbians and those who reject traditional gender roles. Most embrace religious nationalism and reject multiculturalism.”

They also share a fundamentalist approach to their belief systems, insisting on the inerrancy whatever their founding scriptures might be – in the case of Islamists, the Koran; of extremist Christians, the Bible; of far-right “Patriot” militiamen, the Constitution of the United States; of neo-Nazis, Hitler’s Mein Kampf as well as a handful of other works that have scriptural import for them. It’s a reductive kind of thinking that, besides enforcing a lockstep mentality, puts all of the essentially authoritarian followers of these beliefs systems at the mercy of the frequently twisted interpretations of these scriptures by their authoritarian leaders – that is, the people who are deciding on the meanings of the words they slavishly adhere to. They all insist that only their interpretation is the correct one.

As Karen Armstrong explored at length in her book The Battle for God, religious fundamentalism is a logical response to the modern demise of the spiritual life. The collapse of a piety rooted in myth and cult during the Renaissance, she argues, forced people of faith to grasp for new ways of being religious, giving rise to a fundamentalism that mimics traditionalism but is in reality an entirely modern phenomenon. Essentially, fundamentalism is natural byproduct of modern life, representing the needs of the people who are left behind by modernity – economically, culturally, socially, and spiritually. This applies equally to other kinds of fundamentalism, such as the bizarre interpretation of American law and the nature of government that arises in the worldview of right-wing American “constitutionalists.” The terrorists who are produced by these belief systems are all deeply alienated from modern society, and their violence is always directed at the goal of returning society to its “traditional” values.

Accordingly, all these fundamentalist belief systems – being “traditionalist” enterprises – share a deep rejection of multiculturalism, the 20th-century worldview that overthrew the longtime system of race-based social and cultural hierarchies known as white supremacy, and replaced it with an understanding that all human cultures connote a level of respect and legitimacy, and the notion of superiority among them is largely a conceit cultivated by those in a dominant position. To fundamentalists and other right-wing True Believers, multiculturalism is an abomination, since the notion of the legitimacy of other religions or belief systems is nonexistent for them. It’s their way or the highway – though only the most nakedly racist among them admit that their hostility to multiculturalism naturally defaults back to a race-based system of white supremacy.

In the end, this means that, for the radicals inclined to act out their beliefs violently, the targets of their hatred and violence often are the same. Right-wing extremists almost universally direct their terrorism at the representatives of modernism and multiculturalism in their own minds: democratic institutions and governments, liberals, LGBT folk, various racial and ethnic minorities (especially Jews).

Indeed, a Muslim extremist living in the U.S. had targeted gays once before: On New Year’s Eve 2013, a radical Islamist and Libyan native named Musab Mohammaed Masmari started an arson fire in the stairway of the very same Seattle gay nightclub, Neighbours, that had been targeted by neo-Nazis back in 1990. The fire was quickly extinguished by an alert patron, but with only one other exit and a large crowd estimated at about 900 people, the potential for catastrophe had been immense. After Masmari told a friend that "homosexuals should be exterminated," and an informer from the Muslim community told the FBI that he might have also been planning terrorist attacks, investigators began circling. Masmari was arrested attempting to depart to Turkey, and was eventually convicted and sentenced to 10 years’ prison time on federal arson charges.

Both of these attacks underscored the reality that radical Islam is a kind of right-wing extremism, and has much more in common with American Klansmen and “Patriots” than any of them are willing to acknowledge. Of course, because of their inherently xenophobic natures, their targets at times can also be each other: Violent attacks on Muslims and mosques by American extremists have skyrocketed in the past year, especially as Islamophobia whipped up by those same extremists takes effect, and the outrageously wrongheaded belief that radical Islamists are identical to mainstream Muslims spreads.

This is important to place in the larger context of domestic terrorism: As a study I have recently completed of American domestic terrorism between 2008 and the present (to be published later this summer through the Center for Investigative Reporting) demonstrates, American right-wing extremists committed acts of terrorism in the United States at more than twice the rate of domestic Islamist extremists in that time period, with more than double the casualties. Indeed, until the past year, the vast majority of Islamist domestic-terrorism cases involved people arrested pre-emptively by authorities using informants, often to create fake attacks that form the basis for their subsequent federal prosecution.

However, in the past year, that has shifted in one notable and dramatic respect, with four incidents of domestic terrorism committed by Islamists involving extreme violence – in Garland, Texas, where two Islamists attempted a gun attack on an event in which cartoonists made fun of the prophet Muhammad; in Chattanooga, Tenn., where a radical Islamist named Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez opened fire on two military installations, killing five and wounding two before he himself was killed;  in San Bernadino, Calif., where a radicalized husband-and-wife couple shot the attendees at a county-employee holiday gathering, and now in Orlando – in just a little over a year. The last two were particularly horrendous, leaving 63 dead and 72 wounded between them. In the previous seven years, there had only been two such incidents.

These recent events have all underscored not just the importance of coming to terms with domestic terrorism of all kinds, but of recognizing that Islamist and American right-wing extremist terrorism are very closely related, and often target the very same vulnerable people – as well as understanding that, over those past eight years, American right-wing extremist terrorists (nearly all of whom are white) have been even more dramatically increasing the levels of lethal violence in the country.

To understand terrorism, we first have to shed our great national blind spot regarding who commits it – namely, the racial one. Ever since 9/11, media, public officials, and the public in general have become reluctant to identify right-wing extremist terrorist acts as fitting that description. When a 19-year-old named Dylann Roof walked into a historic black Charleston church last summer and killed nine congregants there in cold blood, only a handful of media observers identified him as a terrorist, even though the act was manifestly political and intended to inflict terror on the (black) public, which are the two main components in defining a violent act as terrorism. Yet even FBI director James Comey was reluctant to identify the act as terrorism.

That lack of clarity can be harmful, especially when it comes to the public’s ability to understand terrorism – which is an essential component of any kind of anti-terrorism strategy. Enabling the public to see not only that it is being manipulated by these violent extremists, but how this is happening, is the first step in defusing the very terror these acts are intended to spread.

Even more importantly, however, effectively blunting these terrorists requires deeper thinking into the root causes of the extremism that fuels them. Nearly all extremism is built on the bones of unaddressed real grievances, even if those underlying causes of their alienation are heaped with nonsensical conspiracy theories and crude racism. Getting to the root causes entails making an honest effort to address their real grievances without pandering to the ugliness.

In rural America, for instance – where so much of the modern “Patriot”/militia/constitutionalist extremism breeds today, as we saw this past January at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon – there are genuine grievances involving government management of public lands that metastasize and transform like into conspiracism and bizarre beliefs about the Constitution. Many white nationalists are white working-class people who have been left behind by the modern American technological economy. All of these reflect real issues that need to be addressed in concrete ways if we want to be serious about dealing with domestic terrorism and the deep cultural rot it represents.

Modernization can be a great thing for large masses of people, but it always leaves people behind, and when the numbers begin to mount, so does the inevitable violence and the cultural toxicity from which it springs – reflected not just in the current political divide, but also in the tide of mental illness to which so much of this terrorism is often attached (and dismissed, wrongly). In the end, we need to ameliorate the caustic effects of modernization upon those left behind, not just in the interests of protecting ourselves, but really, of simply doing the right thing.

Maybe then we can stop counting on just being lucky in evading much of the potential terrorist violence that has been lurking, largely ignored, in the American landscape, as we apparently did in Santa Monica. Because as Omar Mateem proved in Orlando, sometimes that luck runs out.

Friday, May 06, 2016

Exultant Extremists Hail The Ascension Of ‘Emperor Trump’ As GOP Nominee

One of the pro-Trump memes collected at the Daily Stormer.
[Cross-posted at Hatewatch.]

It’s a happy time out there in the land of the extremists.

“White men in America and across the planet are partying like it’s 1999 following Trump’s decisive victory over the evil enemies of our race,” exulted Andrew Anglin at the neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer.

"He is getting white people excited for the first time in my memory,” said a Stormfront participant. “Look at the crowds when he gets the cameras to pan out. They're huge (or should I say YUGE?) and almost 100% white. It is fantastic to see.”

Conspiracy-meister Alex Jones, in the meantime, embraced Trump as being "basically like a Patriot sleeper cell," but warned him darkly against betraying their movement to fight "the New World Order."

“I absolutely do believe that this is an important day, a pivotal day,” proclaimed David Duke. “It really has been a referendum on nationalism. It has been a referendum on populism. It’s been a referendum on political correctness. It’s been a referendum against the controlled Establishment, both the media and the political Establishment in America. And so far, Trump has whipped them.”

The Internet was buzzing this week with the celebratory boasts of a broad range of right-wing extremists, from the ranks of neo-Nazi haters, Klansmen and other white supremacists, to the hunkered-down conspiracy-spinning paranoids of the antigovernment movement – all of them cheering on their new hero, Donald Trump, after he secured the Republican nomination for the 2016 election this week. Most of them made it clear he was perhaps the first presidential candidate most of them could get behind unreservedly.

“Why not take a chance on him?” asked one Stormfront participant. “The choice of Clinton vs cuckservative isn't particularly good. Trump, by contrast, has said/proposed many things that are more implicitly pro-white than anything offered by an American politician in my lifetime.”

“Trump doesn't have to support our movement to help us save our people from what is being done to us: All he has to do is stand up for what's right and it will badly damage the anti-White agenda,” observed another Stormfront member. “They know this. They cheat to get ahead. If cheating is prohibited, their power evaporates.”

Anglin, who also posted a long page’s worth of exultant memes celebrating Trump’s ascension, was downright giddy at The Daily Stormer: “This is a buzz that won’t soon wear off. Sort of like an IV drip of pure cocaine. Or perhaps like having a computer chip implanted in your brain which electronically stimulates continual dopamine release.”

Anglin also promoted a bizarre “parody” video made by someone under the nom de plume “Aryan Wisdom” in which the faces of Trump, President Obama, Hillary Clinton, and a host of other political and media figures have been superimposed over the action of the film 300, and the soundtrack
features actual speeches by Trump.

It transforms that movie’s original historical narrative (it retells the tale of the Battle of Thermopylae) into one in which Trump becomes the hero who saves white civilization from the ravages of the brown horde led by Obama, whom we see Trump killing by shoving him into a bottomless pit.

Other white supremacists weighed in on the Trump candidacy. Former Klan leader David Duke declared that Trump had scored a great victory for the cause of whites simply by becoming the GOP

The Trump campaign at a whole series of levels is a great opportunity for us to expose the people who really run the Republican Party, who run the Democratic Party, who run the political establishment and who are leading us all to disaster. Even though Trump is not explicitly talking about European-Americans, he is implicitly talking about the interests of European-Americans.

Duke went on to explain how the Trump victory was guaranteed to help spread their ideology and to discredit the Jewish “neo-conservatives” he has long claimed control the Republican Party:
I think that these Jewish extremists have made a terribly crazy miscalculation, because all they’re really going to be doing by doing a ‘Never Trump’ movement is exposing their alien, anti-American, anti-American-majority position to all the Republicans and they’re going to push people more into awareness that the neocons are the problem, that these Jewish supremacists who control our country are the real problem and the reason why America is not great.
“Jewish chutzpah knows no bounds,” he observed, with no hint of irony.

Trump, for his part, rebuked Duke’s endorsement and his remarks, publishing a statement saying he “totally disavows” Duke’s remarks.

“Antisemitism has no place our society, which needs to be united, not divided,” Trump said.

Trump’s disavowals, however, did nothing to stop the flow of pro-Trump proselytizing that emerged from the extremist right.

James Kirkpatrick of the white-nationalist webzine VDare chimed in with an encomium for the candidate:
Trump is taking the nationalist impulses the Republican Party has used for years and putting them at the forefront of his new political movement. He’s downplaying some of the hardcore social issues which conservatives have already lost on anyway. He’s abandoning rhetoric about slashing programs which actually benefit the Republican Party’s core constituents. And he’s tapping into a Narrative of national redemption which is deeply felt all over the country.
Kirkpatrick concluded that “the Republican base has caught on. They have chosen to displace the Beltway Right entirely. And they don’t want the same old goofy slogans—but a nationalist movement that will actually fight for them.”

Two noted white nationalists, Matthew Heimbach of the pro-Trump Traditionalist Worker Party and his radio cohost Sven Longshanks, held forth on their daily radio show, declaring that “Trump has changed the face of politics around the world with his refusal to bow down to the monied interests and by doing so he has encouraged others to do the same.”
The fires of nationalism, the fires of identity, the fires of anger against the corrupt establishment are arising all around Europe, all around America, all around the entire world. So we just need to strap in, because the future is gonna definitely be interesting, and I believe we could have a switch in our direction even more…Hail, Emperor Trump! And hail, victory!
Over at Stormfront, the overt neo-Nazis posted memes such as this one:

One such post then added, with a typically disturbing twist:
Sieg heil! Whether Trump's a full White Nationalist or not is irrelevant at the moment, since getting one into the White House is impossible at the moment. What I see is a strong White leader who is completely unafraid of speaking his mind and shattering Political Correctness.

Also, think about this: If Trump is assassinated before the election, it will cause an awakening in Whites we haven't seen in many years! Same result if he doesn't get elected or if he's impeached. More Whites will see the political system for the joke it is. And think about how good he is for our movement! Whether you support the guy or not, you cannot deny he is having a massive impact on White America! What we need to do is somehow use his massive support to boost the White Nationalist movement! Perhaps make posters and post them around your neighbourhood, or distribute flyers! Do something positive for your movement instead of wasting time wallowing in defeatism and belittling what could be a great opportunity for us! Love him or hate him, Donald Trump is making waves in all directions. Why not take advantage of that?
Others at Stormfront were similarly paranoid: “I think they are terrified of Trump. I think they will resort to pretty much anything to get rid of him. I hope Trump's advisors have the sense to see that and prepare for it,” one wrote.

That thinking went into their speculation about a potential running mate as well. “His VP must be a potentially great White (Pro-White) (Pro-America) (America-First) president,” wrote a Stormfront poster, “in case the jews (and that's who it would be, regardless of who pulls the trigger) -- in case the jews assassinate Donald."

“It has to be someone at least as tough as Trump on all the important issues and who is certified to be anti-establishment,” clarified “Phoenix 1933. “Otherwise Trump would be a tempting assassination target. Actually Trump should probably get someone even tougher and more anti-establishment than himself, someone the Jews would be terrified of becoming president.”

And as often happens on the far right, the paranoid laser beam showed signs that it might eventually turn on the candidate himself. At his mega-conspiracist Infowars website, Alex Jones – who has been among Trump’s most ardent fans, recently worrying as well about a possible assassination – sounded a warning to the candidate that he also better deliver on their otherworldly expectations.

Jones’s young daughter, it seems, is also a Trump fan, and created some “Vote for Trump” placards to hand out to visitors, which apparently brought out Jones' protective instincts:
I’m gonna tell Trump something right now. I like you, I think I’ve assessed you correctly. You’re trying to force the globalists to capitulate to you, that’s why they don’t like you, you’re showing how weak they are. You’re a man of destiny, I have a lot of respect for you. And I know you understand building something for humanity is the ultimate strength, not being a parasite.

So I believe you’re a builder and an empowerer, you’re not perfect, nobody is, but if you go sideways on us, and you betray my daughter, or anybody else, I want Donald Trump to know something: I’m gonna do everything I can to politically come after you, and it’s not gonna be a bunch of idiots burning American flags screaming “Viva La Raza,” OK?
Jones then rambled into a strange soliloquy in which he claimed that Trump was "like a Patriot sleeper cell":
I don’t really get behind candidates a lot, but I know the system is scared. They know you at least are for real, trying to take over from them, and that scares them enough. Now you better try to take the Republic back for the people, and you say you are, and you say you’re committed.

You seem to be a very humble person at the end of the day, and down to earth. And I know a lot of folks that know you behind the scenes, and they say you were totally aware of the New World Order before I was even born, that you’re basically like a Patriot sleeper cell, really planted to go after them. And so I believe that.

But I’ve looked at all the angles, Trump. And I’m just saying … The people in this country are sick and tired of being betrayed. And we want to see aggressive moves against the New World Order. And we will back you all the way, and we want to see these scumbags destroyed, politically, and we want to see you, with the American people’s backing, run over the traitors. Bring them to justice. And to prosecute Hillary and so much more. So you’ve got my backing. And you’ve got my commitment.
Back at the Daily Stormer, the notorious hacker Weev – who has been recently associated with hack attacks in which campus faxes were flooded with white-supremacist fliers – offered an ominous warning for any conservatives (whom he and his fellow “alt-right” activists have sneeringly dubbed “cuckservatives,” or “cucks”) who might dare to continue to refuse to get in line with Trump:
As Trump’s once-ridiculed dreams transform from fevered visions to shadows upon the ruined landscape of Weimerica, we use that darkness to attack our mutual enemies. Now is the time to lean hard on everyone #NeverTrump. There is no method of ruin too rude or personal to destroy these people. We bombard their employers with hateposting. We show up at the doors of their homes to call them cucks and traitors to their faces. We do whatever is necessary to run these people out of town and make sure they never try to slink back. We must leverage every second we have before the general election to purify the political establishment of rotten Marxists and those that would bow before them.
Because this is the way the cucks end.
Evidently, this also is the way the first major-party presidential nomination in modern memory to be embraced by right-wing extremists begins.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Jack Hanna Once Again Spews Nonsense About Orcas and Animal Rights

A mother and calf pass close by the lighthouse at
Lime Kiln State Park, San Juan Island.
Hoo boy. Here we go again.

It seems as though everybody loves Jack Hanna. He's every cable network's favorite TV animal expert -- so plain-spoken, so enthusiastic, and he seems so knowledgable! Gee willikers, you can sure believe what he says, right?

Eh, not so much. At least not when it comes to the subject of SeaWorld, killer whales, and the documentary Blackfish. And a lot of other things associated with all that, too, especially animal rights.

Hanna was recently quoted at length in an paranoid alternative-universe kind of op-ed by Greg Norman at Fox News titled "Fresh off SeaWorld victory, animal rights groups take aim at zoos, circuses and maybe your pet":
Fresh off a victory over SeaWorld and its controversial orca program, animal rights groups are zeroing in on zoos, aquariums and circuses -- and one prominent expert warns your dog and cat could be next.
Ooooh, those scary hippies are coming for your Bowser! Charles Manson has nothing on these freaks!

Norman then goes on to single out Blackfish as the source of the hippie scourge, since it is the film that finally forced SeaWorld to announce it was ending its breeding program and would be phasing out its performing-orca shows, a true paradigm shift that indicates the company at some level realized that its old business model, built on the exploitation of a singularly intelligent and large species, was no longer viable.

But its supporters are in deep denial about this paradigm shift, and SeaWorld's post-announcement ads -- which humiliated their new partners at the Humane Society -- indicate the company still has a long way to go itself. Forget about deep-seated denialists like the nutbars at Awesome Oceans (how's your revenue stream these days, guys?) and, of course, Jack Hanna.

As Norman reports:
Americans may one day find the full agenda of animal rights groups hits even closer to home, said Jack Hanna, host of the syndicated “Jack Hanna’s Into The Wild” TV series and director emeritus of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.

“Animal rights activists believe all animals, including your dog or cat, should have the same rights as people and be free; therefore they shouldn’t be in human care under any circumstances,” Hanna said.
Let's take a long, deep breath here and see if we can restore some semblance of rationality to this discussion. Because otherwise we will be forced to point out that Hanna is just freaking nuts. Not to mention completely full of crap.

You see, animal-rights activists do indeed believe that all animals, including your dog or cat, should have some rights. Period. Full stop. Only a tiny handful of admittedly nutty radicals -- none of them involved in any major animal-rights organizations -- believe that "they should have the same rights as people and be free." Not even People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), probably the most radical of the animal-rights groups, doesn't go that far, as you can see from their website, which argues simply that animals have very simple rights, including the right to be free from suffering, but never argues that they have the same rights as humans nor that they should never be under human care.

A more typical approach is that of the Nonhuman Rights Project, a group seeking to establish basic rights for animals, which explains:
We begin by seeking two kinds of fundamental rights for our nonhuman plaintiffs: bodily liberty and bodily integrity.

Bodily liberty
means not being held in captivity. For a chimpanzee, it means not spending life in a laboratory; for an elephant, it means not being chained in a circus; for a whale it means not being imprisoned in a park.

Bodily integrity
means not being touched without consent or in one’s best interests. For a chimpanzee, it means not being subjected to biomedical research. For an elephant it means not being beaten at a circus. For a whale it means not being forcibly inseminated to make her pregnant.

Do not confuse these fundamental rights of nonhuman animals with so-called “human rights.”
Human rights are for humans. Chimpanzee rights are for chimpanzees. Dolphin rights are for dolphins. Elephant rights are for elephants.
Hanna has created a classic straw man. Serious animal-rights activists never argue that animals should never be in the care of humans; rather, they argue that the animals in the care of humans should never have to suffer. That's a big distinction. An even bigger distinction is the difference between having simple rights (such as to be free from suffering) and human rights.

Let's be clear about what that means when it comes to killer whales, however: Every killer whale kept in a concrete tank is in captivity and is suffering. This is why orca activists will never accept the status quo at places like SeaWorld until the animals can be placed into environments, such as sanctuaries, where they will not suffer.

Concrete-tank captivity means, as Dr. Lori Marino explained in Blackfish, that every orca in those tanks is compromised and traumatized and therefore suffering, even if it is in doses they seem, on the surface, capable of tolerating. The deprivation, as I explain in Of Orcas and Men, is threefold:
  • Spatial deprivation: Killer whales have bodies that evolved to swim constantly, and in the wild, they do in fact swim constantly -- up to a hundred miles in a day. In marine-park tanks, they spend long hours immobile, and they spend a great deal of time at the surface (which is why the dorsal fins in captive males flops over; in the wild, orcas spend 95 percent of their time underwater, where gravity has no effect on the big dorsals, which are comprised mainly of collagen). Constant swimming in complex environments is what they are made to do, and depriving orcas of that, studies have found, significantly increases their stress hormones.
  • Social deprivation: Orcas are highly intelligent animals not only with complex societies that include communications, hunting, and mating strategies but extremely powerful social needs that, in the wild can only be met by social interaction with their own social group. The hodgepodge, frequently random orca societies that are created by marine parks' collection policies have nothing to do with normative orca societies; and nearly all killer whales in captivity are lacking anything like a normative social life.

  • Sensory deprivation: Killer whales' primary sense, in the wild, is not their vision, but their echolocation. We puny humans are only now beginning to reckon with just how profound and far-reaching this sense is in Orcinus orca, how utterly exquisite it is: Orcas not only can see everything in the water, they can see inside them. Including each other. And they share their echolocation signals, bringing their minds together in ways we can only begin to contemplate the reality of. Putting an animal with this remarkable set of sensory equipment into a plain concrete tank with smooth walls and linear dimensions is akin to putting a human being into a small, plain with room with a lightbulb. The remarkable thing, really, is that more orcas besides Tilikum have not gone utterly insane under those conditions and killed even more trainers than they have.
Jack Hanna, of course, cannot be bothered with considering the ethical dimensions of all this, because he sees something in the SeaWorlds of the world that overwhelms all these considerations -- namely, the fact that they bring awareness of killer whales to the public in large doses that educates and enlightens and gets the public to care about their recovery in the wild.

That, in a nutshell, is the defense that Hanna has presented all along for SeaWorld -- that they so educate and inspire young people so that there can be enough public support for efforts to save the animals in the wild. Check it out.

In 2013, on CNN:
I went to SeaWorld in 1973. I was one of the first visitors there. And I continue to take my kids, their kids now and hopefully their kids' kids, grandkids' kids, that's three or four generations going there.

If I thought one animal there that was being mistreated or wasn't so to speak happy, whatever happy is, and of course some of these guys who know about whales will tell you what happy is and what happy isn't. But that's what I see when I visit these parks. And you know, something? Out of sight is out of mind which means that killer whales back in 40 years ago were out there in the oceans of the world, knowing what they were, what they were, they are out of sight. So that's out of mind.
While Hanna obviates the core issue -- whether the animals are suffering, not whether they are "happy," is what matters, and the former is something that can be scientifically ascertained, while the latter is of course just a fuzzy concept at best -- he is largely right about one thing here: the public was largely unaware of killer whales until the marine parks began taking them captive. And we knew very little about them. But we've learned a lot about them in those fifty years since -- more than enough, in fact, to conclude that -- just as with all large, highly intelligent animals with large spatial needs such as elephants -- captivity is really not appropriate for them at all. We now know that the concrete-tank environment in which we force them to exist causes them suffering.

And of course, Gabriela Cowperthwaite, the director of Blackfish, made that point in short order. Hanna's reply, however, was even more disingenuous:
SAVIDGE: Jack, what about this point that you know, SeaWorld, of course, really introduced us to these creatures, to these animals, almost where we fell in love, and I think many people would say, they did fall in love, but they are now faced with this horrible dilemma that once people have fallen in love they really care. And then they suddenly say, if I care, how could it be possible that we keep these animals in a cement pool? How do you answer that, Jack?

HANNA: Again, I'm not a whale researcher or whale expert. All I see is what I see at SeaWorld. Animals that seem happy, they're breeding, they're eating. I'm not sure about the life spans. I know they do research in the wild. But is the research in the wild 100 percent? Absolutely not. I've been doing this for 42 years. I've interviewed researchers all over the world about the whale. You know, and I still say that you have to love something to save something. We use the word captivity, by the way.

What is captivity, by the way? The entire world or the national parks -- the North Pole and parts of the Amazon, having been to all these places. The whole world is a national park. They're smaller when you come to SeaWorld or maybe the Columbus Zoo is the largest in the country. But I can tell you know, that our new African veldt is not captivity. Our new polar bear exhibit for $26 million is not captivity. I can tell you that the zoos last year in this country -- gave over $150 million to the animals in the wild in one year. The Columbus Zoo has given $12 million in the last ten years.
Well, Hanna may have a point when it comes to exhibits for animals that can have their need met by recreating habitats, which is one of Hanna's specialties. But as we are learning, there are some animals -- you know, those aforementioned large, big-brained mammals with large spacial roaming needs, such as elephants and killer whales -- for whom that is simply not true. The best we can do for these animals, the majority of whom must remain in some form of human care, is to create sanctuaries where they can have their spatial and other needs met while still receiving that care.

So, for killer whales, "captivity" really is very easy to define: Confinement to a contained concrete pool. And really, there is no sight quite like that of an orca roaming free in the wild to remind you just how far removed their captive cousins are from any semblance of a "happy" life, and how profoundly unnatural their confinement is:

Hanna may want to contend that the environments he provides in zoos for veldt animals such as giraffes and reeboks are comparable to their native habitats and thus adequate for their deeper needs, and they may well be. But he simply cannot hope to pretend that even the biggest concrete orca pool is in any way comparable to what wild orcas experience every minute of their lives.

Moreover, this is part of the kind of mis-education that actually occurs in marine parks like SeaWorld, who love to pretend that they are instilling a love of nature and animals and science education in young children. As I explained recently:
The reality, however, is that SeaWorld’s “education” programs are really low-information affairs geared primarily to propagandize children into visiting the park, while its “science” record is so laughably thin that very few real scientists engaged in conservation work with wild whales take them seriously.

No, what SeaWorld has been selling (at about $100 a head, plus parking, food, and plush dolls) is not an understanding of the animals, but a spectacle -- the jaw-dropping sight of seeing a relatively tiny human mastering these gigantic creatures and seemingly controlling them, as trainers like Ventre and others performed a series of precision stunts before your eyes. The “education” that children receive at these parks is an overpowering message that it is not only right, but admirable, that we humans keep wild animals under our power through a system of dominance and control.

... Sociologist Susan Gray Davis discussed the illusory aspect of SeaWorld’s shows last spring during Voice of San Diego’s sponsored debate, between SeaWorld’s defenders and its critics, over orca captivity. While studying the question of what people actually learn at marine parks like SeaWorld, she came to the conclusion that it all came down to entertainment, particularly the big orca circus shows put on at the its various Shamu Stadiums:
I think they are the key to the brand. It’s the model for the human-animal interaction that occurs at SeaWorld. It really expresses a lot of tension, because it combines the fascination with these animals with an enthusiasm for subtly, but maybe not subtly, humans being in charge of the animals. So there’s this big, beautiful powerful wild animal that is also being controlled by a human being. It’s done in a very skillful, very artful way, but that’s essentially what people are seeing in the shows.
So the kind of “environmental” education that occurs at these parks is not in any sense a forward-looking effort that helps young people take a more enlightened approach to their own futures. It is instead a reflection of what the cetacean-captivity industry is really about – namely, just another iteration of the systems of dominance and control that embody traditional Western Civilization, values that we know are killing the planet. 
Moreover, SeaWorld claims that it is making all kinds of contributions to science by keeping these animals captive, but the truth is that there's hardly any science that makes it out of SeaWorld and parks like it at all, as the debate last year in San Diego explored:
SeaWorld's oft-touted claims that it conducts research that benefits orcas in the wild too (see Sam Lipman's superb debunking for more on this) was trotted out, and promptly became a fiasco when [Naomi] Rose pointed out that, for a company that holds the largest collection of captive orcas in the world (not to mention one that is awash in money), a mere 50 research papers in 50 years' time is an output that can only be described in one word: "pathetic."

Hanna's final argument in defense of marine parks demonstrates just how clueless he has become from his years in his elite-media bubble. See, Hanna thinks because he gets to travel all around the world to see animals in the wild, that it must be really expensive for ordinary people to get to do the same. That's why we pat them on the head and let them go see caricatured versions of the animals in tiny concrete tanks instead, you see.

He explained this to a crowd of adoring fans at SeaWorld once, and repeated the explanation in numerous TV appearances:
If it wasn't for these folks, everybody, nobody would know about the killer whale. And I'm just saying -- touch the heart to teach the mind. And I can't touch your heart some way, or SeaWorld can't, or the Columbus Zoo can't, or the 221 zoos can't, then these animals haven't got a chance.

I wish that all of you could go to Glacier, way up there in Glacier Bay [Alaska], and see the whales, or see them in other parts of the world. I wish you could go to Africa and see the lions. I wish you could go to the Himalayas and see the animals they have there, or to China to see the pandas, the koala in Australia. I wish you could do that, but all of us can't do that. So, to do that, costs tens of thousands of dollars. And everybody can't do it. So that's why we have these parks. Unless people are educated, they can't save anything.
This is, of course, complete and utter balderdash when it comes to seeing killer whales in the wild. You don't have to go to Alaska. You don't have to go to Iceland. You don't have to spend tens of thousands.

It's really a very simple matter to see killer whales in the wild, and any American who can afford to fly to Orlando or San Diego for a family vacation and spend the hundreds of dollars that a visit to SeaWorld entails can afford it, and can do it. It takes a little more planning, but it might actually be cheaper in the long run.

Here's how you do it: You fly to Seattle. Rent a car and drive two hours from SeaTac Airport (90 minutes from Seattle itself) north to the town of Anacortes and get on the ferry to the San Juan Islands there (reservations advisable). It's an hourlong boat ride out to the town of Friday Harbor, where there are lots of hotels and B&Bs for visitors that are generally pretty reasonably priced, especially compared to peak seasons in Florida and California. Then drive out to the west side of the island with a picnic basket and some time to kill and park yourself at the land bank (free parking, no amenities) or Lime Kiln State Park ($10 parking fee, or a Washington State Parks annual pass) and wait. Eventually you will see killer whales, sometimes very close to shore.

This is the view I was afforded last Fourth of July at Lime Kiln.

And it was essentially free for anyone who happened to be there -- just like the whales themselves.

Even if you don't have the time to kill, it's possible to go see the whales by going on one of the many whale-watching cruises out of Friday Harbor, where a seat costs less than the price of a SeaWorld ticket, and the boats take you to where the whales are, so you don't have to wait.

So don't let Jack Hanna and the SeaWorlds of the world fool you. There will (we hope, preservation efforts willing) still be plenty of orcas for ordinary Americans to be able to see for free, long after SeaWorld's last captives die of old age or whatever respiratory ailment gets them first. It won't cost people "tens of thousands of dollars," either.

And there will always be people who love and fight to protect them -- because even if it's not the SeaWorlds out there preying on them, there will always be threats to their well-being. No thanks to the Jack Hannas of the world.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Confederate Heritage Month: The Strange Fruit That Fed Jim Crow

[That's right, it's April, which means that it's Confederate Heritage Month. We continue our coverage. Previous installments at the bottom.]
Southern trees bear a strange fruit
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze,
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees

Pastoral scene of the gallant south,
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,
Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh,
Then the sudden smell of burning flesh.

Here is fruit for the crows to pluck,
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,
For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop,

Here is a strange and bitter crop.
-- Lewis Allen, "Strange Fruit" (popularized by Billie Holiday)

Slavery and war were the human institutions most closely related to eliminationism as it was practiced historically, proceeding as they did from the same dark, violent corner of the human psyche -- the one in which resides the impulse to dominate our fellow humans, along with its cornermate, the impulse to reduce our fellow humans to mere objecthood.

Thus the lion's share of the eliminationism practiced by the European colonists in the Americas had gone hand in hand with warmaking and enslavement. Most of the violent eradication of the native population -- particularly the extermination of the straggling remnant of Indians in North America after 1800 -- had occurred under the pretense of waging war, which itself was merely a pretext for taking land. And in the early years, at least, when the Spanish took many hundreds of thousands of Mesoamericans as forced labor for their mines -- which was itself a death sentence -- slavery played a significant role in the natives' extermination, both physically and culturally; even those slaves kept alive were usually forced conversos for whom observing any of their traditional rites or ceremonies was punishable by death.

The natives, however, were seen in quite distinct terms from the Africans captured as slaves and brought to American shores by the colonists. The former were identified with the wilderness and were the equivalent of untameable beasts, which played a large role in the white settlers' inclination toward rubbing them out. But African slaves were seen as completely subservient and thus a negligible threat.

This may explain why, during the years leading up to the Civil War, blacks in the South were rarely the victims of lynchings -- since they were viewed as property, it was considered an act of theft to kill someone else's slave. The main exception to this was directly related to those occasions in which the slaves were perceived as actual threats -- namely, putting down slave revolts.

The fear of black insurrection (and there were a handful of real slave revolts, notably Nat Turner's 1831 Virginia rebellion, in which some sixty whites were killed) was so pervasive among Southerners that any rumor that one might occur could bring swift death to the alleged conspirators, even if, as was often the case, it later turned out there were no such plans. In any event, when lynching did occur in the years before the Civil War, the victims predominantly were whites. Many of these were in the antebellum South, where lynch-mob treatment was often administered to abolitionists and other "meddlers."

If blacks' slave status largely protected them from racial violence before the Civil War, then its abolition also left them remarkably vulnerable to such assaults upon the South's defeat. Certainly, once emancipated, they became seen as a real threat to whites, and particularly to their dominant status; much of this perception, particularly regarding the violent nature of the newly freed blacks, as we shall see, was more an illusion produced by psychological projection than real in any meaningful way.

This became immediately manifest, during Reconstruction, when black freedmen were subjected to a litany of attacks at the hands of their former owners that went utterly unpunished. As documented by Philip Dray in his definitive study, At the Hands of Persons Unknown: The Lynching of Black America, these crimes turned up in hospital records and field reports from the federal Freedmen's Bureau, all of which described a variety of clubbings, scalpings, mutilations, hangings and even immolations of former slaves, all within the first year after Appomattox.

In 1866, the violence became discernibly more organized with the emergence of the Ku Klux Klan, which originated with a clique of Confederate veterans in Pulaski, Tennessee, and spread like wildfire throughout the South. Initially much of the Klan night riders’ activities were relegated to whippings, a punishment intended to remind the ex-slaves of their former status. But as the assaults on blacks increased, so did the intensity of the violence visited on them, culminating in a steady stream of Klan lynchings between 1868 and 1871 (when the Klan was officially outlawed by the Grant Administration); at least one study puts the number at 20,000 blacks killed by the Klan in that period. In the ensuing years, the violence did little to decline, and in fact worsened, despite the Klan's official banishment.

David M. Chalmers in Hooded Americanism: The History of the Ku Klux Klan, describes the early Klansmen was drawing from both the upper and lower strata of society, but unquenchably violent [p. 10]:
The method of the Klan was violence. It threatened, exiled, flogged, mutilated, shot, stabbed, and hanged. It disposed of Negroes who were no respectful, or committed crimes, or belonged to military or political organizations such as the Loyal and Union Leagues. It drove out Northern schoolteachers and Yankee storekeepers and politicians, and "took care" of Negroes who gained land and prospered, or made inflammatory speeches or talked about equal rights. It assaulted carpetbag judges, intimidated juries, and spirited away prisoners. It attacked officials who registered Negroes, who did not give whites priority, or who foreclosed property.

The Klan's violence, however, was not broadly eliminationist, but rather carefully channeled. Its clear intent was not to drive out blacks generally -- they were, after all, a valuable source of labor -- but to keep them under the thumb of their white "superiors." The chief means of doing this, however, entailed eliminating anyone who might pose even the slightest hint of a threat to the status of whites, particularly "interlopers" and "outsiders" who arrived after the war to help the freed slaves get on their feet:
Although Klansmen occasionally sortied out across the moonlit countryside to punish criminal behavior, they most frequently called upon Radicals, Union and Loyal Leaguers, Republican candidates, and Northern schoolteachers. The purposes were clearly to destroy the basis of Negro political effectiveness by driving out its leaders, white and black. The particular opposition to schoolteachers seems based on the reasoning that the Negro was not capable of learning anything other than polticial insurrection and insolence toward whites, and in the years before the war, teaching a Negro to read had been a serious crime. In eastern Mississippi the new institution of public schooling had to face the added problem of economic depression. During a period when times were hard and Reconstruction had made labor uncertain and elevated livestock theft to a common profession, the farmers were called upon to pay taxes for a new school system which they feared might eventually mingle white and Negro schoolchildren. The response was a veritable reign of terror which saw schools burned and teachers whipped, tortured, murdered, and driven out of the state.

Francis Simkins' study of the South Carolina Klan observed that the Klan's campaign was "against the Negro as a citizen -- one attempting to be a voter and at times, the social equal of other men -- rather than against the Negro as a violator of law or the infringer upon the rights of other men." So to rationalize away their own wanton criminality, the Klan and its supporters relied on rhetoric aimed to convince the public of the criminality of the black population.

The chief purpose of the Klan, as Exalted Cyclops Ryland Randolph of South Carolina put it, was to stop what they saw as an insidious Northern plan "to degrade the white man by the establishment of Negro supremacy" -- though, of course, their actual purpose was to degrade the black man by the establishment of white supremacy. This kind of precisely mirrored projection was present in nearly every aspect of white racial hatred toward blacks, particularly regarding the most common defense for the wave of lynching that was to follow -- namely, that it was a natural community defense against savagely lascivious black men and their wanton desire to rape white women.

Sexual paranoia, rooted in long-held Christian European notions about sexuality that associated it with sinfulness, with the "muck" of nature and the wilderness, was central to the lynching phenomenon. In the years following black emancipation -- during which time a previously tiny class of black criminals became swelled by the ranks of impoverished former slaves -- a vast mythology arose surrounding black men's supposed voracious lust for white women.

"The Negro race," after all, was still closely associated with the jungles of Africa, the "heart of darkness" in the European mind; and sexual voraciousness was assumed in such folk, for though tame they might be, they still were scarcely a step removed from wild men of the jungle themselves; still scarcely human. Yet this was a legend for which in truth there was scant evidence, and one that stands in stark contrast to (and perhaps has its psychological roots in) the reality of white men's longtime sexual domination of black women, particularly during the slavery era.

In any event, the omnipresence of the threat of rape of white women by black men came to be almost universally believed by American whites. Likewise, conventional wisdom held that lynchings were a natural response to this threat: "The mob stands today as the most potent bulwark between the women of the South and such a carnival of crime as would infuriate the world and precipitate the annihilation of the Negro race," warned John Temple Graves, editor of the Atlanta Constitution. Such views were common not merely in the South, but among Northerners as well. The New York Herald, for instance, lectured its readers: "[T]he difference between bad citizens who believe in lynch law, and good citizens who abhor lynch law, is largely in the fact that the good citizens live where their wives and daughters are perfectly safe."

The cries of rape, for many whites in both South and North, raised fears not merely of sexual violence but of racial mixing, known commonly as "miscegenation," which was specifically outlawed in some 30 states. White supremacy was not only commonplace, it was in fact the dominant worldview of Americans in the 19th and early 20th centuries; most Caucasians believed they represented Nature's premier creation (having been informed this by a broad range of social scientists of the period, whose views eventually coalesced into the pseudo-science known as eugenics), and that any "dilution" of those strains represented a gross violation of the natural order. Thus it was not surprising that a number of lynching incidents actually resulted from the discovery of consensual relations between a black man and a white woman.

Underlying the stated fear of black rape, moreover, was a broad fear of economic and cultural domination of white Americans by blacks and various other "outsiders," including Jews. These fears were acute in the South, where blacks became a convenient scapegoat for the mesh of poverty that lingered in the decades following the Civil War. Lynching in fact was frequently inspired not by criminality, but by any signs of economic and social advancement by blacks who, in the view of whites, had become too "uppity."

There were, of course, other components of black suppression: segregation in the schools, disenfranchisement of the black vote, and the attendant Jim Crow laws that were common throughout the South. But lynching was the linchpin in the system, so to speak, because it was in effect state-supported terrorism whose stated intent was to suppress blacks and other minorities, in no small part by eliminating non-whites as competitors for economic gain. These combined to give lynching a symbolic value as a manifestation of white supremacy. The lynch mob was not merely condoned but in fact celebrated as an expression of the white community’s will to keep African-Americans in their thrall. As a phrase voiced commonly in the South expressed it, lynching was a highly effective means of "keeping the niggers down."

As Chalmers describes the early Klan violence:
[I]n addition to lynching for rape ... the Klan whipped for sass, insolence or theft. Here and elsewhere, industrious Negroes who improved their farms also received attention from the Klan.

Other suffered because they violated the racial mores. The Klan punished Negroes who associated with poor white women. White prostitutes in South Carolina accused of receiving Negroes were tarred and driven away. A Negro was killed and his daughter was whipped because she had "caused some embarrassment" to a white family by beating the child of one of its members. Another Negro girl was beaten for "breaking the peace" between a wife and her husband.

Many of the poor, ignorant, illiterate South Carolina men, who later confessed in open court, pleaded that they had only joined the Klan to avoid becoming its victims. Their night riding had been crudely conceived and carried out, with none of the dash and the disciplined planning that marked much of the Klan activity elsewhere. Generally speaking, however, the leadership, if not the rank and file, represented some of the best elements of society, with the younger men usually the most venturesome. Acts of violence were usually applauded by the conservative press and justified then, and afterward, by the always allegedly bad reputation of the victims.

Moreover, in addition to the night-riding type of terrorist attacks, mass spectacle lynchings soon appeared. These were ritualistic mob scenes in which prisoners or even men merely suspected of crimes were often torn from the hands of authorities (if not captured beforehand) by large crowds and treated to beatings and torture before being put to death, frequently in the most horrifying fashion possible: people were flayed alive, had their eyes gouged out with corkscrews, and had their bodies mutilated before being doused in oil and burned at the stake. Black men were sometimes forced to eat their own hacked-off genitals. No atrocity was considered too horrible to visit on a black person, and no pain too unimaginable to inflict in the killing. (When whites, by contrast, were lynched, the act almost always was restricted to simple hanging.)

A classic instance of this occurred in the little East Texas town of Center, about sixty miles due north of Jasper, in 1920. The victim was a black teenager named Lige Daniels, who was accused of killing an elderly white woman who lived in Center. When word reached the governor that mob violence was imminent, he wired the captain of the Seventh Cavalry stationed nearby to protect the prisoner. The cavalry, however, never showed. The captain later explained that he had been unable to "find any members of his company in time for mobilization."

So at about noon on August 3, 1920, a mob of about one thousand men stormed the Center jail, knocked down the steel doors, and dragged Daniels outside, where they proceeded to beat him severely. A rope was thrown over a nearby oak tree, and Daniels was then hung.

A photo postcard that was available for many years afterward, mostly in the backwaters of trinket shops, recorded the event. It is a remarkable photo, and not only for the warm glow of the sun peering through the oak tree and bathing Lige Daniels' corpse, hanging from the bough, in an almost angelic light. What makes the portrait unforgettable instead is the crowd gathered below—stern-faced fathers and laborers, all looking quite proud of themselves; and a handful of children. One young boy (he appears to be about ten), dressed in his Sunday shirt and tie, is beaming beatifically. He probably remembered that day till he died.

There were many such postcards. Perhaps the most notorious were those from the lynching of another black teenager, Jessie Washington, by a mob of several thousand residents of Waco, Texas, on May 16, 1916. Washington, who was retarded, had confessed to the murder of an elderly Waco resident. At the moment his conviction (with four minutes' deliberation by a white jury) was announced, the mob surged forward into the courtroom and dragged Washington outside, where he was stripped, beaten, stabbed, and wrapped with a chain, which was draped over a tree limb, just above a pyre of wooden crates. Washington was then jerked twice into the air, and his body lowered onto the pyre, where he was sprinkled with coal oil and set alight.

The lynching of Jessie Washington, May 16, 1916, Waco, Texas
Afterward, mob members proudly strung the charred corpse back up for a brief public display, after which Washington's body was lassoed by a horseman and dragged around the town until the skull bounced loose. Some motorists then tossed his remains into a black bag, tied it to the back bumper of their car, and tooled around the countryside with it in tow. A constable finally retrieved the bag from a nearby town, where it was left hanging.

The lynchings of Daniels and Washington were mere drops in an ocean of bloodshed. Between 1882 and 1942, according to statistics compiled by the Tuskegee Institute, there were 4,713 lynchings in the United States, of which 3,420 involved black victims. Mississippi topped the list, with 520 blacks lynched during that time period, while Georgia was a close second with 480; Texas' 339 ranked third. And most scholars acknowledge that these numbers probably are well short of the actual total, since many lynchings (particularly in the early years of the phenomenon) were often backwoods affairs that went utterly unrecorded. In that era, it was not at all uncommon for a black man to simply disappear; sometimes his body might wash up in one of the local rivers, and sometimes not.

The violence reached a fever pitch in the years 1890-1902, when 1,322 lynchings of blacks (out of 1,785 total lynchings) were recorded at Tuskegee, which translates into an average of over 110 lynchings a year. The trend began to decline afterward, but continued well into the 1930s, leading some historians to refer to the years 1880-1930 as the "lynching period" of American culture.

The lynching of Rubin Stacy
There are many postcards that recorded these lynchings, because the participants were rather proud of their involvement. This is clear from the postcards themselves -- many of which can be seen at the Without Sanctuary site -- as they frequently showed not merely the corpse of the victim but many of the mob members, whose visages ranged from grim to grinning. Sometimes, as in the Lige Daniels case, children were intentionally given front-row views. A lynching postcard from Florida in 1935, of a migrant worker named Rubin Stacy who had allegedly "threatened and frightened a white woman," shows a cluster of young girls gathered round the tree trunk, the oldest of them about 12, with a beatific expression as she gazes on his distorted features and limp body, a few feet away.

Indeed, lynchings seemed to be cause for outright celebration in the community. Residents would dress up to come watch the proceedings, and the crowds of spectators frequently grew into the thousands. Afterwards, memento-seekers would take home parts of the corpse or the rope with which the victim was hung. Sometimes body parts -- knuckles, or genitals, or the like -- would be preserved and put on public display as a warning to would-be black criminals.

That was the purported moral purpose of these demonstrations, at least in the South: Not only to utterly wipe out any black person merely accused of a crimes against whites, but to do it in a fashion intended to warn off future perpetrators. This was reflected in contemporary press accounts, which described the lynchings in almost uniformly laudatory terms, with the victim's guilt unquestioned, and the mob identified only as "determined men." Not surprisingly, local officials (especially local police forces) not only were complicit in many cases, but they acted in concert to keep the mob leaders anonymous; thousands of coroners’ reports from lynchings merely described the victims’ deaths occurring "at the hands of persons unknown." Lynchings were broadly viewed as simply a crude, but understandable and even necessary, expression of community will. This was particularly true in the South, where blacks were viewed as symbolic of the region's continuing economic and cultural oppression by the North. As an 1899 editorial in the Newnan, Georgia, Herald and Advertiser explained it: "It would be as easy to check the rise and fall of the ocean's tide as to stem the wrath of Southern men when the sacredness of our firesides and the virtue of our women are ruthlessly trodden under foot."

Thus the numbers of deaths produced by the lynching phenomenon only hint at their impact, which broadly affected literally millions of more Americans, effectively keeping them in the thrall of terror that their white neighbors might, with the least provocation, murder them horribly.

Of course, the threat of the rape of white women and other pretenses for lynching presented handy pretexts for these horrors. As always, the violence was predicated on a fear of future violence; lynching was excused as a preemptive act.

Yet in reality a black person could be lynched for literally no reason at all -- in some cases, simply for defending himself from physical assault, or for just being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Lynching laughed at the notion of blacks advancing through hard work; moderately prosperous blacks who managed to do so were often the first targets of angry lynch mobs intent on dealing with "uppity" blacks.

Lynchings unquestionably had the short-term desired effect of suppressing blacks' civil rights; the majority of African Americans in the South during that era led lives of quiet submission in the hope of escaping that horrific fate, and relatively few aspired beyond their established station in life. Those who did often migrated northward, where lynchings were hardly unknown (some of the most notorious occurred in places like Indiana and Minnesota, and they in fact were recorded in nearly every state in the Union), but were not as endemic. However, the awfulness of the mobs' brutality, often reported and photographed in gruesome detail, ultimately also inspired a reaction that gave birth to the Civil Rights movement and eventually the demise of the racial caste system lynching was intended to enforce.

The first voices raised against lynching were heard in the 1890s, even as the bloodbath was cresting. Civil-rights pioneer Ida B. Wells, a well-educated black woman who had risen to the editorship of a leading black newspaper in Memphis, began questioning the myths underlying the popular rationale for condoning the killings. As she gathered statistics about lynching, she noted, for instance, that even though the threat of black rape was the foremost excuse for the phenomenon, in fewer than one-third of the lynchings was rape even alleged. (Later, more complete statistics particularly bore this out; congressional testimony in 1922 indicated that only 28.4 percent of the blacks lynched between 1889 and 1918 had been accused of raping or attempting to assault a white woman. This remained the case over time as well; the Tuskegee Institute's lynching data for 1882 to 1951 indicate that lynching victims were accused 41 percent of the time of felonious assault, 19.2 percent of rape, 6.1 percent of attempted rape, 4.9 percent of robbery and theft, 1.8 percent of insulting white people, and 27 percent for miscellaneous offenses. Moreover, among the lynching victims between 1882 and 1927 were 76 black women.) Often the accusations of rape were completely spurious.

Indeed, in two-thirds of the cases, Wells found, lynchings were for incredibly petty crimes such as stealing hogs and quarreling with neighbors. A black person could easily face an agonizing death at the hands of a mob merely for trying to vote, or for testifying against a white man or getting into a fight with him, or asking a white woman to marry -- and sometimes for no offense at all.

Wells also attacked the myth of black men's sexual voraciousness. She adroitly observed that during the Civil War, many slave owners willingly left their wives and daughters in the care of their black manservants, who were frequently entrusted with the defense of the home during those years. And if black men were prone to sexual assault, there was little evidence of it before the war as well; contemporary historian Ulrich B. Phillips, for instance, examined Virginia's court and criminal records from 1783 to 1863, and found only 105 blacks convicted of sexual assault over the eighty-year span.

Wells (who became Ida Wells-Barnett in 1895 after her marriage to Chicago attorney Ferdinand Barnett) ultimately published her findings in a widely distributed 1901 book titled Lynching and the Excuse. She was soon joined in her crusade by other leading African Americans, including W. E. B. DuBois, Frederick Douglass and William Monroe Trotter. It was their view that the systematic oppression of black Americans needed to be confronted directly, and lynching was the system's most egregious component. In 1905, DuBois, Wells-Barnett, and other black leaders organized the Niagara Movement to demand full citizenship rights for African Americans: freedom of speech, an "unfettered and unsubsidized" press, full voting rights, full civil liberties, and recognition of the principle of human brotherhood. The Niagara Movement's manifesto, written mostly by DuBois, did not address lynching directly, but observed: "The Negro race in America -- stolen, ravished, and degraded, struggling up through difficulties and oppression -- needs sympathy and receives criticism, needs help and is given hindrance, needs protection and is given mob-violence, needs justice and is given charity, needs leadership and is given cowardice and apology, needs bread and is given a stone. This nation will never stand justified before God until these things are changed."

However, the leading black figure of the time in the minds of most Americans was Booker T. Washington of Alabama's Tuskegee Institute, acclaimed for its pioneering work in education young black people. His famed 1895 speech (which came to be known as the "Atlanta Compromise") before a mostly white audience at the Atlanta Exposition had counseled black Americans to give up agitation for political rights and social equality in exchange for the opportunity to work and prove themselves, suggesting that racial segregation was an acceptable and perhaps even desirable state. Washington urged blacks to steer away from dreams of returning to Africa: "Cast down your bucket where you are," he counseled. Instead, he admonished them to focus their efforts on their own resourcefulness and hard work, and to emphasize the honor of common labor. For these sentiments, Washington was widely praised by white politicians across the American spectrum, but other black leaders were unconvinced. The Niagara Movement, with its emphasis on open agitation for blacks' civil rights, represented a direct challenge to Washington's compromise.

Though this nascent organization mostly foundered, its underlying principles came fully to life in 1909, when DuBois, Wells-Barnett, and other Niagara leaders joined forces with white civil-rights reformers to create the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. The NAACP's principles were broad-ranging, but within the first year of its existence it became clear that the primary challenge it faced was in organizing a national campaign to combat the practice of lynching -- and for the ensuing three decades, leading the fight against lynching and mob violence was the organization's major preoccupation.

It was clear to the NAACP's leadership that Booker T. Washington's "compromise" was not only counterproductive, but his prescription for black Americans -- steady forward progress by embracing the all-American values of hard work, integrity and individual enterprise -- was in fact a recipe almost certain to invite vicious repercussions in the form of a lynch mob. As the NAACP began systematically compiling information about lynchings, it became clear that blacks who succeeded economically and socially (particularly those who became landowners) were the frequent targets of lynching, and any indications of civic advancement by blacks often met violent opposition. Among the many victims of lynchings were black postal clerks, grocery owners, farmers, and white-collar professionals, such as doctors. Black veterans returning from action in World War I were sometimes lynched merely for wearing their uniforms in public.

Likewise, it was becoming increasingly clear, even to the public, that the rationales proffered for decades to justify the lynch mobs' actions -- particularly the threat of black rape -- were not merely flimsy but entirely hollow, a cover for the real motivation for lynching, which was to terrorize and subjugate the black community. A 1918 lynching case drove this point home in horrific fashion.

It began on May 16 when a white landowner in rural Valdosta, Georgia, was shot to death at his home. His wife accused a black man named Sidney Johnson, and a lynch mob soon formed with the purpose of carrying out summary justice for the farmer's murder. However, when it was unable to locate Johnson, the mob turned its wrath on five black men who'd had the misfortune of being in the vicinity at the time and lynched them instead. Among the five was Haynes Turner, a former employee of the murdered farmer.

Turner's wife, Mary, was eight months pregnant, and when she heard of the murder, she vowed publicly to find the men responsible, swear out warrants against them, and ensure they were punished in the courts. Not surprisingly, her vow to seek justice doomed her; as an Associated Press report of the affair put it, Mary Turner had made "unwise remarks" about the execution of her husband, "and the people, in their indignant mood, took exceptions to her remarks, as well as her attitude." The local sheriff placed her under arrest, reportedly for her protection, but then surrendered her to a mob of several hundred white men and women -- as well as a number of children -- determined to "teach her a lesson."

At a place outside town called Folsom's Bridge, they stripped her, tied her ankles together, and hung her upside down from a tree. Dousing her with gasoline, they slowly roasted her to death. While she was still alive, a man using a knife ordinarily reserved for splitting hogs walked up and cut open the woman's abdomen. "Out tumbled the prematurely born child," wrote a news reporter covering the event. "Two feeble cries it gave -- and received for the answer the heel of a stalwart man, as life was ground out of the tiny form." Hundreds of bullets were then fired into Mary Turner's body. Sated, the mob left her body by the roadside. She and her child were buried in a shallow grave near the bridge.

Mary Turner's murder -- which made clear irrevocably that lynching more often than not had nothing to do with black rape -- made national headlines. On its heels came the "Red Summer" of 1919; there were seventy-six blacks lynched that year, but even more horrifying were the "race riots" that broke out in twenty-six cities, including Chicago; Washington, D.C.; Omaha, Nebraska; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Charleston, North Carolina; and Knoxville, Tennessee. These insurrections in fact were massive assaults by whites upon local black populations, often sparked by an imagined offense. In Tulsa, where a prosperous black population was literally bombed out of existence over two days of complete lawlessness, the rioting was set off by a black youth's alleged assault on a local white girl that later turned out to be harmless consensual contact. Nonetheless, a Tulsa newspaper had publicly called for the young man's lynching, and when a group of local blacks attempted to ward off a lynch mob, the fighting broke out. By the time the violence had subsided, as many as three hundred black people were believed killed, many of them buried in a mass grave, and thirty-five city blocks lay charred.

Such horrors, and many others of similar brutality, lent real credence to the NAACP's anti-lynching campaign. Its black-white coalition made steady gains in attaining widespread respect for its cause, both with public officials and the public at large, in the decade after its founding. A 1915 nationwide boycott of D. W. Griffith's film The Birth of a Nation (an overtly racist paean to the Ku Klux Klan and the virtues of the lynch mob), was reasonably successful and helped attract a broad range of supporters. Moreover, the fledgling organization worked tirelessly to lobby local and state officials about the pernicious nature of lynching and to act to correct the injustices.

Over the succeeding years, the NAACP's anti-lynching campaign gathered momentum, particularly during the fight in Congress over the Dyer Bill, the anti-lynching law passed by the House in 1922 but killed by Southern Democrats in the Senate. There were subsequent attempts to pass anti-lynching legislation. The Dyer Bill was resurrected in 1926, but again did not survive the Senate. In 1934, a pair of Democratic senators -- Colorado's Edward Costigan and New York's Robert Wagner -- offered a measure that would have punished law-enforcement officials who by neglect allowed their charges to be taken by a mob. Again the legislation had the NAACP's full-fledged backing, and again the public support was overwhelmingly in its favor (indeed, one poll found even that 65 percent of Southerners supported a federal law outlawing lynching). Ultimately, however, it met the same fate as the Dyer Bill; it passed handily in the House, only to succumb to a fatal filibuster by Southerners in the Senate. Two later efforts in the 1940s to pass anti-lynching legislation met similar fates.

These failures, however, were anything but. What no one expected was that even though the effort to enact federal anti-lynching laws did not succeed, the broad national debate it had inspired achieved nearly spectacular results in undermining the lynching phenomenon. By the 1930s lynching was no longer celebrated in the public view, but widely condemned as barbarous and unjust by nearly every responsible segment of society. Even in the South, the views of such Caucasian organizations as the Association of Southern Women for the Prevention of Lynching had come to hold sway.

Over the course of the succeeding decade, from 1922 to 1932, lynching deaths -- which had somewhat steadily declined in frequency after 1904 anyway -- dropped dramatically, from fifty-nine black lynchings in 1922 to only six in 1932. The trend continued during the 1930s; only ninety-three black lynchings were recorded during the entire decade.

The nature of lynchings changed dramatically during this period -- driven, almost certainly, by the stigma that had become attached to mob justice, and the clear withdrawal of public sanction for such murders. The mass spectacle lynchings, which had seemingly reached their apex in the bloody "Red Summer" of 1919, virtually disappeared over the course of the 1920s. By the 1930s, lynchings had largely reverted back to the form in which they first manifested themselves during the early Reconstruction period: furtive affairs involving midnight riders, arsonists and shooters, usually involving only a handful of perpetrators. By 1952, when there were no black lynchings recorded at Tuskegee (though it must be noted that, even then, this did not necessarily none had occurred), the era of the lynch mob seemed to have become a thing of the past.

This watershed change in the American cultural landscape occurred with virtually no official or legal support from Washington, D.C. Congress, of course, never enacted an anti-lynching law. And the Supreme Court, for most of the lynching era, had declined to involve itself in lynching cases, preferring to leave them to the jurisdiction of state courts. A handful of decisions, however, gradually turned the tide in the courts, and simultaneously left a permanent impression on the larger body of criminal law: Moore v. Dempsey in 1923, which overruled the death sentences of six black men convicted (in a lynch-mob atmosphere) of insurrection following a rural Arkansas "race riot," for the first time stipulated that in light of the requirements of the Fourteenth Amendment, any denial of due process was the concern of the federal government; Powell v. Alabama in 1932, which overturned the verdict in the infamous case of the "Scottsboro Boys," nine itinerant black workers who were convicted on flimsy evidence of raping two white women, and which further stipulated that the right to an attorney was an indispensable part of due process; Norris v. Alabama in 1935, which overturned the third conviction delivered against the Scottsboro boys, on grounds that the exclusion of blacks from the jury violated the equal-protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment; and finally Brown v. Mississippi in 1936, which found that a Southern sheriff’s extraction of a murder confession from a black suspect by torturing him was likewise a violation of a defendant’s constitutional rights. However, most of these rulings came well after the lynching era had begun its decline, and only Moore v. Dempsey -- delivered at a crucial juncture in the national debate -- could be said to have had any appreciable role in the sea change of public attitudes about mob justice.

Where the legal system failed, though, it is clear in retrospect that the moral suasion underlying the campaign to combat lynching succeeded. While the NAACP's campaign to pass a federal anti-lynching law fell short, its broader campaign to debunk the myths that had been used to defend lynching, and to permanently stigmatize the practice as inimical to basic American values of justice and fair play, were remarkably effective. It could be argued that this tends to support the position of Caucasian anti-lynching organizations like the Association of Southern Women for the Prevention of Lynching, which had opposed federal anti-lynching laws as an unnecessary intrusion on a natural process of incremental change in cultural attitudes wrought by moral persuasion and not the law. But the historical record is also clear that when anti-lynching statutes were properly enforced -- as they were, for example, in Illinois after 1911 -- the laws were remarkably effective tools for changing social mores regarding lynching.

Although lynchings declined, they did not disappear altogether, by any means. Certainly, the deep racial animus that had always inspired them was still alive and well, particularly in the South. They continued to occur periodically, but instead of being treated as commonplace, they became the subject of intensive international news coverage. The 1955 lynching of a Chicago teenager named Emmett Till, on vacation in Mississippi, for being "fresh" with a white woman, became a national cause célèbre, playing a prominent role in the claims of civil-rights advocates that justice for black people did not exist in the South.

For those Southerners still dedicated to the tenets of white supremacy, and who permanently opposed the substantial gains made during the 1950s and '60s for African Americans' civil rights -- in particular the desegregation of schools and other facilities that began with the Supreme Court's landmark Brown v Board of Education ruling in 1950 -- lynching continued to hold its longtime value as a tool for terrorizing the black community and reaffirming the dominance of white supremacy. But without the cover of public sanction, lynching and racial violence became a surreptitious crime that was strategically deployed in a vain attempt to stem the tide of the Civil Rights movement. As such, lynchers frequently targeted the persons they saw as the source of the agitation. The 1964 slayings of three civil-rights workers in Mississippi, which became a landmark in rising national attitudes supporting the movement, was in most respects a classic lynching. But now the lynchers also turned to other kinds of violence: burning and bombing African American churches, attacking civil-rights marchers, and assassinating the leaders in the movement.

All these events, of course, were largely playing out in the South, which had its own special history as the place where the Klan and lynching had largely originated. Yet that focus obscured a broader reality: Just as the Klan, by the 1920s, had become a genuinely national phenomenon (with national headquarters located in Indiana) so too was the lynching of black Americans widely practiced throughout America. In fact, a quick look at the Tuskegee Institute's state-by-state numbers for the so-called "Lynching Era" (1882-1968) reveals that they in fact occurred in nearly every state in the Union, particularly in the Midwest -- though not as prolifically as they occurred in the South. Likewise, a survey of "race riots" in the same period reveals they occurred in a number of places well outside the South.

The raw numbers of lynched blacks outside the South, however, were smaller for a simple reason: their purpose was different. Lynchings in the Midwest, Northeast, and the West occurred for an explicitly, and broadly, eliminationist purpose. Unlike their Southern brethren, whites elsewhere simply chose not even to let blacks live among them, and so they violently drove them out of their communities en masse and forbade them to return thereafter.

Thus the fight over Brown v. Board of Education and school desegregation took place largely in the South for a very simple reason: school districts outside the South largely did not have to desegregate because blacks had not been permitted to live within their borders for generations. They had just been driven out.

In the South, whites chose to deal with blacks by oppressing them; in much of the rest of the country, white communities simply eliminated their presence altogether. And by making the South the nation's racial scapegoat, it allowed those communities to smugly pretend that since they had no such strife to face, they were not part of the problem.

As a result, the unsettled legacy of racism in the South continues to be a wound in the national psyche that refuses to heal -- and the hidden legacy of eliminationist racism in the rest of the country continues to fester like a long-silent cancer.

[Note: This post is a republication of a piece originally published Jan. 10, 2007.]

Confederate Heritage Month:

Day 1: Strange Fruit

It Was About Slavery

That Peculiar Institution

How Poor Whites Got Suckered

 The First American War Criminals

'The River Was Dyed'  

War By Other Means

Carpetbaggers, Scalawags, and the Liars Who Named Them

Crying 'Bloody Shirt' 

Hamburg and Reconstruction's End

Red Shirts and Whitewashes