In noting that recent racial events in the southern states of Louisiana and Maryland have escalated tensions among certain neighborhoods and racial activists across America, many continue to co-opt and elevate the noose and its mere representation to the level of a hate crime. By claiming ownership of such symbols, as visceral as these symbols may have come to represent their own "progressive" stance against the real horrors of violent racism, these activists tend to rewrite history to fit their present day special interests in race politics. However, we should remember that there have been many other groups in this young nation's history and elsewhere who have been strung up by the neck until they were lifeless.
In the American west, cattle rusters and horse thieves were among the unwashed hordes who were hung from the nearest tree, often without so much as a trial. Suffice it to say, most of these criminals as well as the vigilantes and lawmen who hung them were white. Suicides also often carefully paln and hang themselves by the noose.
In the global news just today, in a culture half a globe away we learn that another group exhibits a certain predilection with regards to capital punishment by hanging. More than 1,000 university students demonstrated in eastern Afghanistan Sunday to demand the death penalty for an official accused of insulting the Qu'ran, police and witnesses said.
The attorney general's spokesman, former journalist Mohammad Ghaws Zalmai, was arrested at the Pakistan border a week ago trying to flee after being accused of misinterpreting the Muslim holy book in a new translation. Apparently, this reformer had softened some of the more violent passages in the Qu'ran, and for this transgressions, his life is of course, now in danger.
"Death to Ghaws Zalmai!" shouted the angry mob in the eastern town of Jalalabad, an AFP reporter in the crowd said. "We want him hanged!"
The conservative parliament last week banned Zalmai from leaving the country days after the distribution of about 6,000 copies of his Dari-language translation. Sad news indeed.
Ignoring all other pressing issues beckoning us from this blog entry, my question is this. Who among us really owns the right to be "offended" by the mere symbolism of the noose? Blacks? Horse thieves? All humanity in seeking the humane? How is it that we all seem to be given enough rope to hang ourselves by the time all is said and done by the positions we take in our very short and contradictory lives? I wonder.
Because we must also remember that several Jewish students at George Washington University also recently confessed to painting a swastika on their own dorm rooms, apparently "to raise awareness."
Until our shadows cry...