Tuesday, June 14, 2005

An ugly family secret

I spoke to Daddy this morning and he said it would be okay to tell you about a family secret that has haunted our family for over a century.

Perhaps you've seen the news. The Senate has apologized for not acting decades ago to make lynchings illegal.

My great, great, grand uncle Roscoe was a licensed lyncher in the State of Texas. Whenever folks in the community felt there had been a miscarriage of justice done, Roscoe was licensed to organize the mob and proceed to lynching.
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Think of it as a town's volunteer fire department — but more like a volunteer law and order department. A bit like those volunteers patroling along the Mexican border.

A licensed lyncher was about a step down from a justice of the peace. Not a lot of legal training but good common sense. Generally, licensed lynchers saved Texas taxpayers a lot of expense, what with no trial or jail time requiring food and other amenities.

Although lynching has got a bad name now, at one time it was seen as democracy in action. After all, the Constitution of the United States of America gives us the right to bear arms. And isn't rope just another type of armament with which to protect ourselves from those who terrorize us? I'll bet those liberals want Americans to register their rope as well.

Roscoe left behind his diary when he died and it listed all his lynchings — 82 in all. It doesn't match Governor George Bush's execution record in Texas but still, the number is mighty impressive. You can bet most of those lynchees deserved it.

Now for the ugly family secret.

When Roscoe died, his death was reported as a hunting accident.

In fact, he died in a lynching accident. Being a humane lyncher, he was testing the hood to make sure that the Negro he was about to lynch would be able to breathe well. When the mob showed up, it assumed the guilty man was already in the hood and hanged Roscoe.

The actual Negro who was likely guilty of something never said a word.

Naturally, I do not blame all black people for the inaction of that one man.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Humane Lynching" -- interesting myth. You're in the White House and admitting that you come from a family of lynchers. I wonder how the Press Secretary would like to the W.H. to be associated with progeny of white supremacists. Let's make a few calls and find out...

4:41 PM  
Anonymous A white attorney who can't beleive this said...

I think you should rethink about the concept of "ugly family secret". The fact that one of your ancestors took it upon himself to execute 82 people without proper trial is indeed quite ugly.

As an intern in the white house, it's your duty to see that policies progress out of segregation and racism.

The mere fact that you consider one man saying nothing to save his life a graver offence than lynching is indication that you may not be at the right place.

11:57 PM  
Anonymous John said...

And we wonder how anyone could have been dumb enough to vote for G. W. a second time.

2:56 AM  
Anonymous KWalters said...

I have no issue with your politics--I am commenting as a historian. As one who studies race relations in early 20th c. Texas, I have looked at many lynchings in detail and I have never heard of a licensed lyncher. The idea of one is contrary to what most historians believe about the nature of lynching. If your great, great, great uncle was one and it can be verified--this is of considerable historical importance. Historians, unlike many others, tend not to demonize the culture they study but try to explain it and help others heal from it. Please consider sharing your story with a historian who is interested in the topic--there are many. Or consider donating the diary to a university archive such as one at Texas A&M or University fo Texas.

2:11 PM  

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