Let me start this post by saying I was aware of the Sarah Palin effigy and I wasn’t amused by that. I consider it to be in poor taste and supremely ignorant on several accounts. However, the Barack Obama effigy found on the University of Kentucky campus has legitimate historical precedence as being offensive and dangerous. I don’t want to get into a debate about hate crimes Aside: all crimes are hate crimes…they’re hateful and criminal, therefore, hate crimes. or double standards Aside: I find both instances offensive., but here in the South (or close enough to the South), a Black person hanging by noose from a tree has historical significance.
According to some information from Tolnay and Beck A Festival of Violence: An Analysis of Southern Lynchings, 1882-1930, during those years, 118 Blacks were lynched by predominantly White mobs in the state of Kentucky. This number pales in comparison to places like Mississippi and Georgia, but is nonetheless statistically significant and morally depressing.
Events like the Obama effigy serve as reminders of this awful period of history. As well, to have it happen here in this state dredges up even more memories. 1930 wasn’t that long ago and the civil rights movement is even more recent history. Plus, for better or worse, the people of Kentucky are assumed racist by the general population given this history. There’s no need to add fuel to the fire on this one.
Effigies are popular forms of dissension for a lot of reasons. Guy Fawkes comes to mind Aside: Look it up and there may even be humorous reasons for effigies, though I can’t think of a single one at the moment. And had the Obama effigy been burned without hanging, or even just taped to the wall somewhere, probably not as offensive…but I believe that there was some underlying hatred here that evokes some painful images. As such, the ignorance associated with such an event should be brought to light and punished.
See you in the funny papers!