The use of the word ‘lynch’ and the impeachment of Trump vs Clinton…

I just want to point out that black people and other minorities do not own the word “lynch” or the victimhood from it. And that is not to say that they should not be uncomfortable when a white politician claims he is being “lynched” when he is asserting that he is being treated unfairly or falsely accused or railroaded. And of course lynch in that sense is being used as a metaphor.

You can look it up in the dictionary or Wikipedia or wherever and you will find that basically lynch refers to being executed without due process and usually by a mob. Its origin is not clear, except it seems to date back in this country to as early as colonial times when people were sometimes punished or even put to death without trial. At least two different persons with the last name of Lynch have been associated with the practice, called the “lynch law”.

White people can be lynched and have been of course. However, it is true I think that far more black people in this country (the USA) have suffered the fate, particulary during the time of Reconstruction after the Civil War when white southerners were re-asserting their authority and in the early part of the 20th Century. So one can see the sensitivity there.

(Just a personal aside: I recall my folks more than once telling me of the time a mob busted into the local jail in the 1930s and lynched two reportedly-confessed kidnappers in San Jose, Ca. The kidnap victim had died. The suspects were hanged from trees in a local park. They were white men.)

The latest flap — and this is already old news and maybe forgotten, even though only days old — is that President Trump and some of his supporters or lapdogs, such as the very special Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who only sometimes dares to criticize the president, have claimed that the Democrats’ move to impeach the president is a “lynching”. Well that use of the same word that was used to describe the horror inflicted upon black people brought on outrage among both blacks in general and Democrats. But whoops, those whose job it is to remember such things pulled up the fact that Democrats used the term themselves when Democratic president Bill Clinton was impeached. Clinton of course is white (even if he was sometimes referred to as the “first black president”, I guess because of good will between him and the black community; he also played a cool sax and wore sunglasses while doing it, if that had anything to do with it all).

Personally I think using the term “lynch” was a bit of unwise hyperbole. Railroaded might have been better, whether accurate as to the particular case or not. But I get a little uncomfortable when political correctness, or a form of it, disallows the use of a word.

Now the so-called N-word should be not used or avoided, except where necessary such as in Huckleberry Finn where it accurately describes how people spoke at time and where the whole essence of the story, which I think accurately portrays an era of our history, in both a comical and sad way, would be lost if a substitute or euphemism were used. Strangely it seems to be acceptable among some black people when referring to themselves among themselves — I suppose it is a form of sarcasm or sardonic expression that fights back at the oppression of racism.

But back to the double standard about using the term lynching. The same holds true in the ongoing impeachment issue. While Republicans are howling at how political it all is and how it really has nohing to do with high crimes and misdemeanors, the Democrats howled the same during the impeachment of Mr. Clinton.

(And there is the ongoing debate about the secrecy of current hearings on the possible impeachment, but I am not sure but that is the norm for the beginning stages and it looks as though the Republicans will get what they demand, open hearings, soon. They might not like what they get, though, it would seem. All that dirty laundry in public — it did not help Nixon.)

So who deserves or deserved to be impeached more? Clinton or Trump?

Well right now I have to think Trump. His flouting of norms, secret and friendly dealings with our enemies, trying to get foreign governments involved in our elections, and rude and uncivil behavior, including inciting riots and mayhem (or seemingly trying to do so) at political rallies would seem enough reason to remove him from office to me. And there certainly are more if not better reasons.

Clinton. Well I just did a quick review of his wrongdoings and actual impeachment charges and all I could really get out of it is that he lied about consensual sex play (including having oral sex performed on him) with a young female intern to avoid embarrassment and the confrontation with his wife, and providing any ammunition for a separate sexual harassment suit against him (which was dismissed but also settled out of court by Clinton). His dalliances with the intern came to light as the result of a lawsuit brought by a staffer before he was president in which he was charged with sexual harassment. He lied to the court or in depositions about the sexual encounters and suborned perjury from other witnesses too. Certainly that was bad, the lying to the court and the witness tampering. But somehow it seems he could have been fined or dealt with after his term was over. It’s a judgment call, but somehow I think the transgressions of Trump, especially his enlisting foreign governments to dig up dirt on his political opponent Joe Biden, are far worse.

(But when the news of the stain on intern Monica Lewinsky’s dress surfaced, I thought at the time Clinton should resign, if for no other reason than the damage he was doing to his party and the institution of the presidency — and now we have Trump.)

But as I have stated many times, in the end impeachment can only be successful (that is ultimate conviction and removal from office) with public support. While it is reported polling seems to support impeachment — polling was shown to be suspect in the 2016 election. Perhaps the methods used are outdated, and the public can be fickle.

While impeachment is a constitutional safeguard against abuse of power, it is also inherently political in nature — it just is. If a strong enough case can be presented against Trump then the advantage of course accrues to the Democrats. Even if he is not convicted in the currently Republican-controlled senate he could be politically weakened. But if the case is not strong enough or not presented well enough or even if the electorate just does not want to hear it, it could backfire on the Democrats. Even winning could have dire consequences. I mean Mike Pence as a president? I heard his interview on the PBS Newshour last night. I will say he knows his lines, but I did not find him credible. He often did not directly answer questions. I found his demeanor chilling. Still I imagine as president he would handle things in a more conventional and even civil way. He could be his own man, whatever that might be.

As has been noted by many, if President Obama had exhibited anything like the rude and crass and downright uncivil behavior of Trump, there would be true outrage across the land.

Trump calls people vile names, threatens reporters, and calls anyone who does not follow his ever-changing or incoherent policy notions anti-American.

Trump promised to “make America great again”.

I’d settle for making America civil again.

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