A most garish Halloween decoration, the noose has become a contentious source of angst for Black people who see this particular ornamentation in people’s yards. The noose is the device used in lynchings that history tells us are a prominent scar upon white America that will never fade.
Lynchings have been called the “Holocaust of Black people” though from a span of “1882 and 1951, 4,730 people were lynched in the United States: 3,437 Negro and 1,293 white.” Lynchings have long been looked upon as a form of racial oppression, though the primary reasoning behind using a noose on a criminal was to bring about swift justice and deter illegal behavior in “outlaw” territory.
Lynching was used a tool to discourage rape, effectively sending a message to would be sexual predators. According to FBI statistics, 37,000+ white women were raped or sexually assaulted in 2005 alone in the United States, so this message has long been forgotten.
The rate of lynching’s by race from 1882-1951 correlates interestingly to the disproportionate amount of crime committed by Black people in today’s America. Even in the days when lynching was “prominent”, the nation only averaged 68 a year. A cursory glance of Thugreport.com shows you more than 68 horrible stories of death transpiring daily across the nation.
Yet the pernicious myth of lynching continues unabated, leaving Halloween displays exploiting a noose as a scare prop quite vulnerable:
A Halloween display in Springfield, Ill., will be modified because of concerns that it is racist, the local NAACP said.
A compromise was reached Thursday in meeting of city officials, Springfield's National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and homeowner, Josh Witkowski, The Springfield State Journal-Register reported.
Springfield NAACP President Archie Lawrence had complained at Tuesday's city council meeting that the display was an effigy of a black man hanging from gallows. The hanging figure was dressed as a cowboy, its legs tied with rope, with a dark-colored skull.
Witkowski said he will change the color of the mask to silver with red and brown tones underneath. The cowboy hat will be removed to prevent casting a shadow on the mask. The rest of the display will remain the same, he said.
"After talking to Mr. Witkowski, one thing I am certain: It was never his intent to have a racist prop in his yard. I am absolutely certain of that," said Lawrence. "And to show the goodness of this man, what he did was he changed the prop to clearly reflect that it's just a Halloween image, nothing more and nothing less."
In a dozen incidents during the weeks before Halloween this year, black and white Americans around the country faced a kind of Rorschach test of the national psyche: Is that a funny Halloween ghoul in a noose hanging from your neighbor’s tree? Or is that a racist symbol of lynching hiding in the Halloween tableau?...
The Rev. Johnny Gamble, pastor of the Friendship Baptist Church in Stratford, heard complaints from parishioners and went to see it for himself.
“At first, I couldn’t believe my eyes. But there it was. A mannequin of a black man, hanging from the neck,” said Mr. Gamble, who is black.
When he knocked at the door, Joyce Mounajed, Miss Cervero’s mother, told him the figure was not meant to be a black man, but was dark-hued to convey the idea of decaying flesh. It was “just a decoration,” he said she told him.
“I told her, ‘We don’t decorate like that. That is a symbol of lynching,’” Mr. Gamble said. “What if my great-grandfather was lynched? There are no two ways of looking at this; that thing is extremely offensive.”
The origins of Halloween are murky, with links to pagan traditions, All Saints Day (a Christian holiday celebrated the next day) and the great Hollywood tradition of Freddy Krueger’s undead tribe. But in all its versions, sociologists say, it has been a holiday that celebrates transgressions of one kind or another.
Richard Lachman, professor of sociology at the State University of New York at Albany, said the noose is a fairly new part of outdoor Halloween displays, hardly seen until the last few years.
“It cannot be taken as a joke,” he said, considering the history of lynching in the United States.
It's a still photo taken of a Halloween decoration in front of a house here in Houston. In that video you see two stuffed decorations.
One represents a Black man with a noose around a White man's neck. That White man appears to be picking cotton.
The family in Houston that posted that decoration on their lawn has since taken it down. But they described it as just a Halloween prank.
What do you think? Is this a joke in bad taste?
Philip Dray's new book on lynching fits into that conventional wisdom. Unless one is predisposed to question the Left's image of white Americans, a reader will be inclined to accept its narrative at face value. Dray has written a readable chronology of lynching, with emphasis especially on the South, and shows the product of considerable research into the subjects he considers important.
This said, it remains important to note the ways his book lacks perspective. (What follows is a discussion of just some of those ways, since a complete examination of them would go far beyond the scope of a book review):
1. His entire theme ("the lynching of black America") repeats the now-customary premise that lynching was primarily an expression of racism. "Lynching," he says, "was a form of caste oppression... the white world's cruelty"; and, elsewhere, "victims were chosen for their race."What is odd is that he cites quite a lot of counter-evidence, but never reflects about it. He tells about the San Francisco Vigilante Committees of 1851 and 1856; about the hanging of the white gamblers in Vicksburg; about the lynching of eleven whites in New Orleans in 1891 after the Police Superintendent was shot from ambush; that half the thirty lynch victims in Illinois after 1882 were white; that thirty-five whites were lynched in North Dakota in the mid-1880s for cattle rustling; and much more. Lynching was not limited by race or by region of the country.
Robert Zangrando's The NAACP Crusade Against Lynching, 1909-1950, cites the figures compiled by the Tuskegee Institute: that during the 87 year span between 1882 and 1968 a total of 1,297 whites and 3,445 blacks were lynched. If racism were the prime mover, the almost 1,300 whites require some explanation. The major explanation as an alternative to the racial one is the amount of crime to which local communities were reacting.
We know, of course, of the cattle-rustling and other crimes committed in the "wild west." What most people today don't know about is the extent of black crime in the South. In his book on lynching, James Elbert Cutler quotes with favor a statement that during those years "the worst instincts of the negro came to the front; the percentage of criminals among negroes increased to an alarming extent; many were guilty of crimes of violence of the most heinous and repulsive kind." Another author tells that "in 1921-22, the homicide rates in Atlanta, Birmingham, Memphis, and New Orleans per 100,000 Negro population were 103.2, 97.2, 116.9, and 46.7 respectively, while the corresponding rates for the white population were 15.0, 28.0, 29.6, and 8.4." W.E.B. DuBois, the black-activist leader whom today's conventional wisdom perhaps respects most from among the black leaders of that day, spoke candidly of "a class of black criminals, loafers, and ne'er-do-wells who are a menace to their fellows, both black and white." That three-quarters of those lynched were black isn't surprising under those circumstances.
Dray makes the point that some of the lynchings were for trivial offenses, but fails to mention that there were whites as well as blacks who ran afoul of this. In Pine Level, North Carolina, in 1908, blacks themselves lynched a black entertainer for "putting on a poor show."
Stuff Black People Don’t Like includes the noose decoration, for Disingenuous White Liberals constantly bemoan the Holocaust against Black people that transpired from 1882-1951. Those who celebrate Halloween are warned not to use the noose in terrifying displays they create, for Black people who have been told of the past evils of white people by Crusading White Pedagogues will find nothing but racism in these hangman’s knots.
Sometimes that might be warranted, but most of the time it’s all done in good fun to elicit a fright.