No matter the passionate arguments emanating from online message boards, out in the real world, racism remains a tangible issue facing many millions of Americans. To that end, the Senate passed a bill this week that would — finally — make lynching a federal crime. The measure passed via unanimous consent after having been introduced by Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), and Tim Scott (R-S.C.), who together constitute all of the currently serving black Senators.
A similar measure passed the Senate in December when, like now, there was a Republican majority, but the then-Republican majority House never took up the legislation. Now, with a Democratic majority in the House, the legislation is expected to make it to President Donald Trump’s desk, capping off some 100 years of failed attempts to unify federal efforts against lynching. There’s been no apparent indication that Trump would rebuff the measure.
Although lynching has faded from prominence, the legislation’s relevance most certainly has not. The Senate itself acknowledged this issue back in 2005, when along with a resolution apologizing to victims of the heinous crime, the body asserted that a formal criminalization of the act remained “wholly necessary and appropriate.”
It was just in 2017 that it emerged that some allegations were completely fabricated that were used as a pretext to murder Emmett Till, a prominent victim of racial violence in the 1950s — which mind you, isn’t excessively long ago. Plenty of people who were alive then, even if children, are alive now.
Nowadays, racial violence takes somewhat different forms, but it remains a potent force. Somewhat regularly, stories emerge of a black man being gunned down by a police officer for what turns out to be no necessary reason whatsoever.
As Harris put it, speaking on the Senate floor this Thursday:
‘We must confront hate in our country… we are now making clear that there will be serious, swift, and severe consequences.’
That assertion, chillingly enough, has relevance for the 2020 presidential race that Harris recently jumped into.
Besides the high-profile, salacious claims like that Trump has freely used the n-word and termed African nations “shithole countries,” the Trump administration has taken active steps against minority communities, including black Americans. Way back towards the beginning of the Trump era, for instance, the then-Jeff Sessions led Justice Department drew back federal efforts to hold wayward police departments across the country accountable.
On the campaign trail, Trump has insisted that black NFL players who dare peacefully protest against the police violence that those efforts had been designed to curtail are “sons of bitches” who should be fired. Trump even explicitly encouraged a boycott of the NFL because of the protests, which simply constituted players taking a knee during the national anthem.
The examples could go on. Just recently, three Florida residents kidnapped and tortured an undocumented immigrant and local authorities “believe the trio… figured the victim might be too nervous to go to police.”
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to connect that to the president, who’s consistently claimed without evidence that undocumented immigrants pose a special criminal threat to the United States and should live in fear.
That’s what we’re dealing with.
Featured Image via YouTube screenshot