Thursday, May 25, 2017

No, Mr. Oliver, you can’t attempt to incite lynch violence and murder, and then get off with an apology

Karl Oliver, an odious little creep who got elected to the Mississippi House of Representatives in part with the generous backing of the Koch Brothers, as well as the bankers (including Wells Fargo), realtors, home builders, a local power company, and even the chicken farmers of Mississippi, got himself into deep manure recently. 

He stepped into it by advocating lynching for those who want to remove civil war monuments to slave-holding heroes of the Confederacy in neighboring Louisiana.

The resulting outrage got Oliver, who is a former county coroner, lots of national attention. Little wonder. In calling for lynching he was essentially calling upon his friends and neighbors to form a lawless mob and murder people. Well, perhaps even more than murder. The American Way of Lynching can involve slow strangulation while hanging from a tree, or burning at the stake, or dismemberment — and more.

Or, in the case of the 1964 murders of three civil rights workers, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner, it involved stopping people on a rural road in a car at midnight, brutally beating one of them with a chain, then shooting them and burying them under an earthen dam — a charming Mississippi coda to a wave of church burnings and beatings that were taking place at the time.

FBI photograph of the bodies of three lynching victims, Mississippi 1964,
uncovered after having been buried in mud under a dam.

Once his advocacy of lynching blew up in his face, Oliver realized he was in very serious trouble and tried to wriggle out of it by issuing an  apology. You may, like me, find his apology insincere.

“I am very sorry,” he said, referring to his attempt to incite mob violence through lynching. “It is in no way ever an appropriate term. I deeply regret that I chose this word, and I do not condone the actions I referenced, nor do I believe them in my heart. I freely admit my choice of words was horribly wrong, and I humbly ask your forgiveness.”

Yeah, right. He referred to those who wish to take down monuments to a culture of slave holding “Nazi-ish.” He made the extra effort  to hit the cap key so that the word “LYNCHED!” would stand out. And if he wasn’t making an extra effort to advocate that people get “LYNCHED,” what was he advocating?

Not for a moment do the racists who put him into office think he meant it when he apologized. Nor, I think, did he. The journal Mississippi Today checked among Oliver's constituents in his home town of Winona and reported:
For some of Oliver’s constituents, his comments weren’t as much a surprise as a relief. In a picturesque storefront within view of Forrest’s front porch, but across the train tracks that bisect this small town, Kathryn Harrison, an older woman with a smart white bob, folds donated clothes and stacks them in a bin.
Like Forrest, she has known Oliver and his family for years. And his willingness to say what others won’t is one of the things she likes best about him. 
“He’s a true Southern gentleman and a Christian, and he’s speaking his convictions,” Harrison said. “And most everybody here, they wanted him elected because he would stand on his convictions.”
So obviously, what America needs is a good Christian lynch mob. 

And that’s Oliver’s conviction, too. It was supported — it bears repeating — by the Koch brothers, the Mississippi Manufacturers Association, the Mississippi Home Builders Association, the Mississippi Poultry Association, the Mississippi Association of Realtors, the Mississippi Power Company, and the Mississippi Bankers Association whose members include Wells Fargo Bank, those wonderful folks who brought you the fake bank account scandal.

Thus, Karl Oliver has demonstrated not only the propensity for lynching still exists barely below the surface in Mississippi, but also that when a bank is rotten in one way, you can bet it's also rotten to the core.

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