Thursday, February 14, 2008

More on Black History Month

by Frank James

President Bush used the 199th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birthday today to speak against the recent spate of noose displays that have popped up around the country.
His remarks will be made during a White House event to mark Black History Month.

Bush's prepared remarks say:
Our Nation has come a long way toward building a more perfect union. Yet as past injustices become more distant memories, there is a risk that our society may lose sight of real suffering that took place.

One symbol of that suffering is the noose. Recently, there have been a number of media reports about nooses being displayed. These disturbing reports have resulted in heightened racial tensions in many communities. And they have revealed that some Americans do not understand why the sight of a noose causes such a visceral reaction among so many people.

For decades, the noose played a central part in a campaign of violence and fear against African-Americans. Fathers were dragged from their homes in the dark of night before the eyes of their terrified children. Summary executions were held by torchlight in front of hateful crowds. In many cases, law enforcement officers responsible for protecting the victims were complicit in their deaths. For generations of African-Americans, the noose was more than a tool of murder. It was a tool of intimidation that conveyed a sense of powerlessness to millions.

The era of rampant lynching is a shameful chapter in American history. The noose is not a symbol of prairie justice, but of gross injustice. Displaying one is not a harmless prank. And lynching is not a word to be mentioned in jest. As a civil society, we should be able to agree that noose displays and lynching jokes are deeply offensive. They are wrong. And they have no place in America today.

These will be Bush's most forceful remarks about the noose incidents. He will get no argument from the vast majority of Americans about the ugliness of the displays, though some will no doubt ask why he hasn't spoken out more forcefully before.

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