“If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row”

Hyde Smith

Cindy Hyde-Smith is a Republican politician who represents Mississippi in the United States Senate.  On November 27 she will face Mike Espy, an African-American Democrat and former Mississippi Secretary of Agriculture, in a run-off election.  Donald Trump has endorsed Hyde-Smith.

At a campaign stop on Sunday, Hyde-Smith referenced a local rancher with these words: “If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row.”

Patrick Connelly, a history professor at Mississippi College in Clinton, provided some historical context on his Twitter feed:

 

4 thoughts on ““If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row”

  1. It was an unfortunate and ill-advised (not to mention bizarre) turn of phrase. Could a reasonable person find it to be racially offensive, especially in light of Mississippi’s history? Yes. Would it have been appropriate for her to apologize? Yes again, although let’s be plain: she would have received no grace in return, not in our present political environment.

    Unfortunately, we are daily inundated with so many claimed outrages by those whose chief calling is to be offended by something, that one should not be surprised when people shrug. The Left has so trivialized actual racism by claiming that everything from opposition to affirmative action, to support for enhanced border security, to the heinous crime of voting for Donald Trump is … racist, that the term has been drained of meaning. It has become an all-purpose epithet which usually means: “I strongly disagree with you and would like you to shut up.” (A perfectly representative example, one among many: Soledad O’Brien took to twitter to justify an Antifa mob showing up at Tucker Carlson’s home, banging on his door and terrorizing his wife by claiming that Carlson was — you guessed it — “racist,” and thus deserving of this criminal thuggery.)

    What I find depressing, in reading the tweets by Mr. Connelly recounting the mob lynching of a black man, which was a horrifying reality in the not so distant past, is that the very bedrock legal protections which were not afforded to African Americans — due process, presumption of innocence — are now precisely what many leading advocates for the #MeToo movement seek to eliminate. We see this in the kangaroo court, Title IX tribunals across college campuses. We saw its apotheosis at the Kavanaugh show trial. The Orwellian mantra “believe all women” — in the postbellum, Reconstruction South it was believe all white women — was used to justify the vigilante murder of countless black men “whose innocence was afterward established.”

    Those who presently find presumptions of innocence an impediment to their ‘right side of history’ political causes, would do well to remember the historical uses for which such a philosophy has been enlisted.

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    • Tony, do you want to add some nuance to your comment? Someone might get the impression that was the only thing you found depressing about that story of a black man being lynched. Or that girls or boys in our community who come forward with accounts of assault and misconduct will be compared to lynch mobs. It would just be good to add some clarity.

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      • Alex: with all due respect, I believe what I wrote was perfectly clear.

        I said her comment was racially offensive in light of Mississippi’s history. I noted the horrifying reality that blacks were lynched by mobs — AND that part of what allowed this evil was a refusal to extend presumptions of innocence and due process rights to African Americans. (Nowhere did I compare — as you suggest — those lodging accusations of sexual assault with lynch mobs. What I did say is that the campus tribunals in which those accusations are adjudicated — which assume guilt and require proof of innocence; do not allow student defendants to confront accusers; prevent the introduction of exculpatory evidence — are like kangaroo courts. I can add no further nuance; that is the alarming reality.)

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  2. The Republicans have learned from their Dear Leader to never back away from a statement, just double down and dare anyone to hold you accountable. Such is the way of our country in the Age of Trump.

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