George Will, perhaps inspired by Barack Obama’s comment that “America ..ah.. .is .. is … no longer what it could be … what it once was. I don’t want that future for my children.” Reminds us what America once was.
On the night of Aug. 13, Mabel Hallam, a pretty young white woman whose husband Earl was working the night shift as a streetcar conductor, retired early. Around 11:30 p.m. she was awakened by a man's weight on her. "Why, Earl," she said, "what is wrong with you?" The man, who was not Earl and was black, said, "I am drunk." He raped her and fled. So she said.
"Negro's Heinous Crime" and "Dragged From Her Bed and Outraged by Negro" were the next day's headlines. As Jim Rasenberger reconstructs events in his fine book "America 1908," police plucked black men from the streets of Hallam's neighborhood until she identified one, George Richardson, as her assailant. By 5 p.m. the jail was surrounded by a mob of at least 4,000 baying for blood. Eighty-nine blacks would be lynched in America in 1908.
Springfield's sheriff enlisted a leading citizen -- owner of the city's largest restaurant, and of a fast automobile -- to spirit Richardson and another black man also accused of rape out of town. This further inflamed the mob, which destroyed the restaurant -- a white patron was killed by a stray bullet -- piled its furnishings on the owner's overturned automobile, and burned the pile.
I’m fairly sure that that is not the America that Barack Obama was referring to when he wished for the America that once was. I’m sure that he meant to convey that the America he wants to bring back is the ideal America that existed before the Evil Bush-Cheney Conspiracy to spy, torture and kill for oil and for Halliburton turned America into the Police Terror State it is today.
With that viewpoint as the bedrock of your belief system (and I am not exaggerating much – if at all - what a large contingent of the Left believes) it is little wonder that they are baying for blood. They believe that what America needs after the Bush Administration leaves office is a Nuremberg style trial where the officials in this administration can be tried for war crimes. War crimes that are as evident as the nose on your face and if you deny them you are condoning evil.
Which brings in the tactic of how to get to Nuremberg. That’s where MarkField comes in. At the Volokh Conspiracy we have people, like the good citizens of Springfield in 1908 who were aflame with the desire to insure that their pure womanhood will not get attacked by the vile creatures who lust after them. Of course there quite a few racists in that community who did not want “Negros” to get any ideas. But the good citizens of Springfield were not ready to lynch them, yet. They needed to be inflamed.
The racists used the MarkField strategy.
As one who strongly favors prosecution, I think your sense of the public reaction is very likely correct. For that reason, I think it's important to begin slowly with the least sympathetic defendants and develop the evidence in some detail. As public disgust builds, so will the desire to see punishment inflicted.
The race haters in Springfield now they had an opportunity to make an example. They had an unsympathetic defendant who was identified by the victim as the rapist. What more evidence is needed?
MarkField: From there, as public disgust builds, so will the desire to see punishment inflicted.
After beating an elderly black man and a paralyzed black man, at 2 a.m. the mob seized a 56-year-old black barber from his home, beat him unconscious, hanged him from a tree and mutilated his body. Souvenir hunters carved away bits of the tree, which was entirely gone by the end of the day.
The next night a mob of 500 brought a rope and proceeded to the home of a prominent and wealthy 84-year-old black man who, standing in front of his house, inquired, "Good evening, gentlemen. What can I do for you?" He was beaten, slashed with a razor, hanged from a tree too supple to bear his weight. He was alive when troops from the state militia reached him. He died that night.
Oh, what happened in the end?
One hundred seventeen rioters were indicted. One was fined $25 for petty larceny; another, a teenager, was sent to a reformatory. Mrs. Hallam later admitted that she invented the attack to explain to her husband some bruises inflicted by her boyfriend.
George Will ends:
So, remember Springfield. The siege of the jail, the rioting, the lynching and mutilating all occurred within walking distance of where, in 2007, Barack Obama announced his presidential candidacy. Whatever you think of his apotheosis, it illustrates history's essential promise, which is not serenity -- that progress is inevitable -- but possibility, which is enough: Things have not always been as they are.
And remember that the MarkField’s are still among us, ready to lay the fuse that sets off the explosion. And proud of his defense of virtue.