CommunityPam's House Blend

Wingnut coddles a member of the Pro-Lynching Southern Six


I don’t know who is the bigger bigot, Thad Cochran or the author of this article, Matt Friedeman.

Mississippi Senator (and member of the Pro-Lynching Southern Six) Thad Cochran can apologize to the Japanese-Americans sent off to internment camps during WWII, the Native Americans for the shoddy treatment received by the white man, but it goes too far in his book to apologize for the historic practice stringing up mostly black men up in trees in his part of the woods for knee-slapping fun.

“I don’t feel that I should apologize for the passage or the failure to pass any legislation by the U.S. Senate.” He declined, he said, because he felt he could not say sorry for “something I did not do.”

Cochran’s words were followed carefully because, of the states in which lynchings occurred, his was the worst offender. Mississippi could claim 581 of the 4,700 lynchings that took place between 1882 and 1968. Eyebrows were raised when Mississippi’s statewide daily newspaper noted that Cochran had co-sponsored other apology bills, most notably the one in 1988 that apologized to Americans of Japanese descent who were rounded up in World War II and called for $20,000 to go to each of the survivors of the Japanese internment camps. And this year, he was a co-sponsor of a resolution to acknowledge sorry dealings with Indian tribes and “Native Peoples on behalf of the United States.”

In the jaw-dropping essay at wingnut web rag AgapePress, Matt Friedeman asks that you give Thad a break. He also, as I’ve seen on the Freeper boards, assumes that with an apology, comes the call for financial restitution. I personally don’t think giving money is going to solve the problem, but one has to ask why Friedeman (and the rest of them) didn’t have a problem with doing so for the Japanese? Well, if Friedeman did, he doesn’t state it. It’s painful to read, because the intellectual dishonesty with which this guy mounts his position is mind-blowing, insulting and nauseating.

Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe what Cochran was questioning this time around were all the corporate apologies being made these days, by Congress and congregations and denominations, wherein we all say “Aye!” then move quickly on. Such apologies cost little and assuage guilt poorly.

Since Senators George Allen (R-VA) and Mary Landrieu (D-LA) co-sponsored the lynching resolution, let’s talk about what might have happened had they wished to show real leadership on this issue of lynching and, more to the point, racism.

Allen might have held a press conference and invited several black clergy to participate. He could have started by saying that, when all is said and done, congressional resolutions and apologies are rather cheap. “So, I am here today to confess my personal sins regarding this issue of racism. Indeed, I have sinned in my past, and here is how.”

His statement would rivet the nation’s attention if he detailed precisely the sins of his life concerning people of color. He could tell what he has both done and not done. Show remorse. Plead forgiveness. Ask for mercy. If his apology was delivered well, most white Americans could probably relate.

He goes on at length, so I won’t waste more space on him. He has balls-out contempt toward the idea of the power of an apology, and a need to fix institutionalized racism — a sickness that enabled human beings to lynch other human beings for sport or revenge. All I can say is, we have a long way to go if this is what we’re up against.


Matt Friedeman (mfriedeman@wbs.edu) is a professor at Wesley Biblical Seminary. Respond to this column at his blog at “In the Fight.”

Previous post

Live blogging of DSM hearings

Next post

Anyone Want to Buy an Ugly Car? Me Either

Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding