Monday, September 24, 2012

Empty chair hung over a branch...Obama is target of racists

Last night on the Fox local news cast, I almost could not believe what I saw.  It was an empty lawn chair hanging from a rope looped over a tree limb in a Loveland man's front yard.  For those without a background in US racial history,  African Americans in the South who dared to become  "uppity" and were outspoken in complaining  about their conditions or who were accused of a crime  were met with the racist based Ku Klux Klan with a noose and hung from a tree limb. The body was left there as a message to others.  It is one of the darkest chapters in US history and the practice, called "lynching",  lingered into the 1930's.

The reference to those practices has cropped up from time to time.  The noose analogy appeared  in the 2008 campaign, perpetrated by racists who opposed the election of an African American  president.  However, the 2012 version is even starker.  The noose analogy is appearing in the South and now even in Colorado...but the connection is made even more pointedly with Pres. Obama  with addition of  the empty lawn chair and the rope over the tree branch..

If  actor  Clint Eastwood  accomplished anything by his address to the Republican National Convention, it was his stage drama type  conversation with President Obama symbolized by the empty chair that contributed to  the widely panned failure of the Convention to move the polling needle toward Romney. I am sure Eastwood is  shocked  how his empty chair has become  a tool of racist expression..

However, there is no question what the empty chair symbolized.  It was the President. The addition of the rope over the limb of the tree that  leaves no doubt what is being stated. "The President is Black and he should be lynched." 

The Loveland man's neighbors were interviewed and they expressed their interpretation of the act and condemned it as racist.  They were obviously appalled and incensed.  The man was also interviewed and he said the reason he put hung the chair on a rope over his tree limb...was because vandals steal chairs sitting out front of his house..  Come, come.  If he were so ignorant and so naive and it was brought to his attention how abhorrent his act was to so many, he would have removed his rope and the chair. He had not and the practice in the South has already received media exposure.  No one said he should be sent to jail for his acts, because he has the right to express his opinion, no matter how his fellow citizens would object to its racist statement.

What the Loveland man did was a visual form of hate speech, every bit  of  an expression of hate as the anti-Mohammed film that has sparked the riots against US embassies in Muslim countries.

This is an example of hate speech protected by the US Constitution. He has the freedom to express himself so long as it does not result in inciting violence or committing a crime.  If such a visual, public statement  were made in opposition to the leader of many countries, it would be considered an act of treason and that man would have found himself in a jail cell, or worse.

For a greater understanding of how hate speech is protected in the US, I wrote a blog posted below for the benefit of my friends who read my blog and facebook world wide.  I translated it into Croatian and Arabic with the help of Google, in addition to posting the English version.

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