What do the following persons have in common: Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, Tamir Rice, Rekia Boyd, Laquan McDonald, Atatiana Jefferson, Botham Jean, Eugene Ellison, Bobby Moore III, Bradley Blackshire, Oscar Grant, Tanisha Anderson, Shantel Davis, Amadou Diallo, Kimani Gray, Eric Garner, John Crawford III, Michael Brown, Renisha McBride, Trayvon Martin, Kendrec McDade, Lena Baker and Emmett Till?
The answer is that each of these black persons was killed without having been charged, tried, convicted and sentenced to death. They were murdered. Some of them were slain by mobs. Others were slain by law enforcement agents. None of them was killed by a lawful process.
They were lynched.
President Donald Trump is alive. He is not threatened with deadly force by a mob. Regardless whether he recognized any of the names listed above, Trump knew when he stated on Twitter that “All Republicans must remember what they are witnessing here – a lynching” that he was not physically dead. Trump knew he was in no physical danger of death, let alone being threatened with death.
Trump’s Twitter message was not only inaccurate; it was a diabolical suggestion that the current impeachment inquiry taking place in the United States Congress is the existential, moral and legal equivalent of murder.
We should notice the irony that Trump – someone who has engaged in personal, commercial and political racism against people of color across his lifetime – has termed himself a lynching victim. But that observation is insufficient. People of faith should resoundingly denounce the hypocrisy and moral fraud Trump showed in his statement. And we should remember that Trump’s racist conduct and comments have always been employed to achieve some purpose.
In this latest instance, Trump’s “lynching” message was a blatant effort to distract public attention from damning evidence presented to the congressional body engaged in the impeachment inquiry. Ambassador William B. Taylor, the senior U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, testified Oct. 22 that President Trump, acting through his personal attorney Rudolph Giuliani and others, deliberately withheld vital security assistance authorized by Congress for Ukraine because Trump wanted Ukraine to conduct an investigation to damage Joe Biden, a leading Democratic candidate seeking to oppose Trump in the 2020 presidential election.
Let’s be clear. Being a lifelong racist and bigot has never been viewed as grounds for impeachment under the U.S. Constitution because however morally and socially detestable racism and racist bigotry is, racism and racist bigotry are not impeachable.
“People of faith should resoundingly denounce the hypocrisy and moral fraud Trump showed in his statement.”
But abuse of the presidential office is impeachable conduct. Using the presidential office to obstruct congressional committees engaged in an impeachment inquiry is impeachable conduct.
The Constitution of the United States authorizes Congress to investigate allegations that the president of the United States has abused executive power. An impeachment inquiry is not a homicidal act and can never be a lynching because it does not kill anyone.
Donald Trump is alive. His life is not threatened by the ongoing impeachment inquiry. He can post racist messages on Twitter because he has not been lynched. He can lie about the impeachment inquiry being a lynching because he has not been lynched. The president is not a lynching victim.
Trump isn’t concerned about what anyone else thinks about his racism, bigotry and deceitfulness (nor, apparently, are his sycophants in Congress who consistently defend or ignore his morally reprehensible rhetoric and actions). The racist bigotry and shameful mischaracterization of the impeachment inquiry as a lynching is merely Trump’s latest desperate ploy to distract public attention from the damning information being received by Congress about his abuse of presidential power.
We should denounce Trump’s racism and deceitfulness. But in doing so, we should not allow his brazen deceitfulness about lynching to distract us from the mounting evidence that he has engaged in the impeachable offense of abusing presidential power.
Donald Trump, like Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton, is the subject of an impeachment inquiry, not a murder victim. We should denounce him for saying so. We should watch what else comes to light during the impeachment inquiry. And we should remind ourselves and our leaders in the U.S. House and Senate that Trump’s despicable attempt to associate himself with Emmett Till and thousands of other lynching victims makes him unfit to be treated as anything other than a pathological liar, whether those lies are about lynching, impeachment or anything else.