I Guess Lynching-Themed Rhetoric Is Ok When Democrats Like Heidi Heitkamp Do It?


Recently a typically bombastic President Donald Trump referred to efforts to impeach him as a “lynching.”

This set off a firestorm of controversy over the use of that word.

Senator Cory Booker, a Democratic presidential candidate, responded on Twitter: “Lynching is an act of terror used to uphold white supremacy. Try again.”

“What the hell is wrong with you?” Rep. Bobby Rush, a Democrat from Illinois tweeted. “Do you know how many people who look like me have been lynched, since the inception of this country, by people who look like you. Delete this tweet.”

I could go on, but you get the point.

The controversy is silly. While lynchings have a very ugly history in the United States (do they have a positive history anywhere?), and that history is very much tied to the experience of African Americans, that’s hardly the only history of lynchings. Angry mobs, whether they’re using a noose or the proverbial pitchforks-and-torches or some other implements of harm, have perpetrated all manner of evil throughout human history and in all parts of the world.

President Trump, while hardly one to be precise in his use of words, was in this instance deploying the term as a way to evoke the often stupid things angry mobs do. Agree with the sentiment or not, there’s nothing specifically racist about that. We only have controversy because the President’s political enemies, for political reasons, are choosing the least charitable interpretation of his words.

But Democrats talk like this. Back in 1998 Joe Biden, then a Senator and today a former Vice President and 2020 White House hopeful, called the impeachment of President Bill Clinton a “partisan lynching.”

Heck just in the last week former North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp suggested an opinion survey found that a third of respondents wanted to “hang” President Trump “from the highest tree.”

Did Joe Biden really think Republicans were trying to put a noose around the neck of Bill Clinton? Is Heitkamp actually suggesting that a third of respondents to the poll she was touting want to murder the President by hanging him from a tree limb?

Of course not. It’s forceful rhetoric, sure, but sane people understand their meaning.

There are plenty of perfectly sound reasons to be critical of President Trump. Lambasting him because he said “lynching” is stupid.