Update 9:26 a.m. Friday: The homeowner has cut down the lynched chair, placed it on the lawn, and — wait for it — claimed it wasn't racist. Click here for more, including a video confrontation with the homeowner.
Last night we broke the story of a man in Northwest Austin who lynched an empty chair from a tree in his front lawn, seemingly intended to represent the first African-American president.
We've since received an updated photo from a neighbor that should clarify whether the homeowner meant the display to make a political statement. The image is here.
The homeowner has attached an American flag to the chair. If anyone wasn't clear before that he meant the President, hopefully this decorative addition will make it clear: the homeowner is suggesting that Barack Obama be lynched.
This image should curdle the blood of all patriotic Americans regardless of partisan leanings. Our flag is a symbol of our great country, and the ideals of diversity and opportunity that make us a beacon of hope and democracy around the world. Generations of service members have fought and died to protect what that flag represents.
Yet because one sad, old racist can't handle the fact that the President of the United States, Barack Hussein Obama, is African-American, he ties that same flag to a public display calling for that President's violent, racially charged death.
Unfortunately, our Austin neighbor is not the first person to come up with the “clever” idea of lynching a chair. A man in Virginia lynched a chair with a “Nobama” sign on it over the weekend, as reported by our friends at Blue Virginia.
Meanwhile, this story is garnering national attention across the blogosphere, and will unfortunately only confirm the worst stereotypes of Texans as intolerant racists. We're not all crazy bigots, and that's why we've got to push back strongly against displays of racism both overt and subtle. Texans, do you really want this kind of imagery to represent our great state? We're the home of LBJ, signer of the Civil Rights Act, and we have a proud history of African-American and Hispanic civil rights efforts.
Demographically, this dude's time is limited. He's 73. Across Texas, the majority of our public school students are Hispanic and African-American. According to the Census Bureau, most children younger than age 1 are minorities.
The Republican Party continues to visibly brand itself as the last respite for public racism, and thankfully it won't win them many elections much longer.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina hit the nail on the head when he pointed out that “We're not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.” That isn't stopping the angry demographic from raging against the dying of their white majority.
Incidents like this remind us that we've still got a long way to go, and that far from “solving” racism, the election of our country's first African-American president only revealed the festering, backwards beliefs clung to by those who fear the increasingly diverse future of our nation.
As of the time of this post's publication, the chair was still hanging in effigy in Northwest Austin. Neighbors report that the homeowner had a “guard” on his lawn yesterday protecting his installation. If the homeowner wanted to draw attention to his backwards views about the President, he appears to have succeeded beyond his wildest imagination.
Update 9:26 a.m. Friday: the homeowner has cut down the lynched chair, placed it on the lawn, and — wait for it — claimed it wasn't racist. Click here for more, including a video confrontation with the homeowner.