The Big Lie- Modern Style

A Little Background for Muslim Immigrants

A Big Lie History Lesson — But not for the white guy
A Big Lie History Lesson — But not for the white guy — screengrab ‘courtesy’ of CNN

While I’m glad to see and hear from some Muslim commentators like Asma on CNN and other networks talk about the Big Lie and how it is playing out in the Georgia election and others, I really wish they would read some U.S. history first.

The problem is that this wave of immigrants might not have encountered any pre-CRT textbooks, so they are really missing out. Hence when Asma Khalid of NPR was giving her analysis on CNN, sitting next to fellow recent immigrant Manu Raju who probably is lacking Southern education and experience, in front of a very solemn John White, she started smiling and lightly laughing.

Hopefully, she and others recent immigrants might want a brief primer on American history in the South and how voting happened in the post-Civil War period, lasting about 89 years. Here is how some scenes played out in Georgia when democracy was practiced previously, by Congresswoman Taylor-Greene’s white ancestors:

1876: White accuser: “And I say this darkie did savage this white girl!”

Crowd: “Lynch him, lynch him!” Without evidence, an arrest, or a trial, only a baseless claim, this black man is lynched.

1892: White accuser: “And I say this darkie did savage this white girl!”

Crowd: “Lynch him, lynch him!” Without evidence, an arrest, or a trial, only a baseless claim, this black man is lynched.

1904: White accuser: “And I say this darkie did savage this white girl!”

Crowd: “Lynch him, lynch him!” Without evidence, an arrest, or a trial, only a baseless claim, this black man is lynched.

1928: White accuser: “And I say this darkie did savage this white girl!”

Crowd: “Lynch him, lynch him!” Without evidence, an arrest, or a trial, only a baseless claim, this black man is lynched.

July 25, 1946, the Last Lynching in Georgia: White accuser: “And I say this darkie did savage this white girl!”

Crowd: “Lynch him, lynch him!” Without evidence, an arrest, or a trial, only a baseless claim, this black man is lynched.

Got it?! That Big Lie was political weaponry where whites lied about what, typically, a young black man did to a white girl in order repress black votes from 1876–1965. (There was one white lynched in 1915, but he was actually a Jew, surprise.)

Of course, these lynchings caused quite a few deaths, thousands, along with many, many beatings that didn’t result in death. The word lynching itself is probably very misleading for new immigrants. It seems to suggest some angry white person got upset at hearing his cousin or sister-in-law was violated and he went “berserk,” got a piece of rope, and went out and hung a black man on the nearest tree, almost like a crime of passion. But crimes of passion result in arrests and a trial; these did not. There were thousands and thousands of these lynchings across the South, ALL based on false claims, on a Big Lie.

An American black journalist investigated and uncovered the Big Lie, looking and many cases in detail. When Ms. Ida B. Wells published her results in 1892— the truth that it wasn’t rape or abuse of a white girl or woman — in her newspaper, a pamphlet titled Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases, the angry white male mob stormed her headquarters and destroyed it. The Truth was too much for them to bear apparently. Luckily, she wasn’t in at that moment and escaped harm. The current Insurrection is nothing more than this bit of history repeating itself exactly. And it even included a lynching rope in front of the Capitol to hang democracy.

Lynching though is a deceptive word, as the word means “extrajudicial murder.” It was not just by rope but any murderous means, conducted many times, if not the vast majority, by a white mob of two or more, men, women, and children sometimes right in front the town courthouse. They would just make up a Big Lie, a fake reason to lynch. It also wasn’t random.

It was a political technique meant to deliberately stop American blacks from voting.

And it was very effective. American Black participation in American democracy was completely wiped out. Although black Americans made up a majority of the population in some areas, the number of black Americans voted to Congress went from 20 to 0 by 1901. This was a 25-year burst of the Big Lie being used relentlessly, over and over again, to snuff out the life and the political voice black Americans. Extrajudicial murder meant none of the murderers were captured, tried in court, or anything. Zero justice. That time of the Big Lie was never repudiated by the government. Black Americans who died never had any compensation paid to their families, the way some police departments grudgingly settle now. To this day, still no compensation, no federal apology for all it.

A little American history might help them in seeing this successful strategy of how the Big Lie played out in Georgia in the past and across wide swaths of America. Mr. Raju might not have called the adherence to the Big Lie “completely absurd,” and see it as really the “normal” course of history. Even a new-ish ex-slave state like Missouri saw 60 lynchings.

Because it wasn’t just the 89 “official” years of American slavery. It was 89 years of political oppression where physical violence was the main weapon to stop the black American, their American vote, their American voice from being counted and heard. That was the prolonged period of the original Big Lie. But as MLK said, the arc of history bends really, really slowly. Not the narrow, small slice of it you are looking at in the present.

Nothing to smile about. Stop laughing, please, it might be offensive to how black Americans see American history. I won’t speak for them; they have a voice, many voices, a plurality of various opinions, with different intensities, sometimes overlapping a lot, sometimes just a bit, sometimes not at all.

But I can say it is certainly offensive to my sense of American Democracy, as a white person who wants to see it working for all, so that my children can depend on justice being enacted, not just promised, not just dream of. And hopefully for once, “liberty and justice for all” will mean what it means: for ALL.

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Bren Kelly

Bren Kelly

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Engaged in new Ideas and old Inequalities, putting the system back into systemic, born on the 50th Anniversary of Women's Lib Day, still seeking injustices.