Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Lynching and the Dyer Bill -- January 5, 2022

Dallas Express, 07-January-1922

Representative Leonidas C. Dyer, a Republican from Missouri, introduced a bill to control lynching and got it passed by the House on more than one occasion, but each time it was denied by the Southern Senators. The Dallas Express was an African-American owned newspaper.


The American lynching record for 1921 has just been announced and from a study of it we find that mob murders have increased rather than decreased; that law and authority are weaker this year than in former years; that bestial impulses have held greater sway over the American people in the year just closed than in 1920.

The statement compares the records of 1920 and 1921 thus: officers of the law prevented 56 lynchings in 1920; they prevented 72 in 1921. There were 63 actual lynchings in 1921 as compared to 61 in 1920. Of the number of lynchings occuring in 1921, 62 occurred in the South and 1 in the North. 59 of the victims were Negroes and 4 were white; of the Negro victims 2 were women. 19 or less than 1/3 of the victims were charged with rape.

Unless the American people have retrogressed much they will take small pleasure in the contemplation of this record of barbarism which in its frightfulness surpasses the barbarities which the early settlers of this country suffered at the hands of Indian tribes which boasted no civilization and aspired to no world leadership. It is a record which, when carefully considered together with the thousands of other instances of mob activity which have occurred during the past year, should cause true lovers of orderly proceedure to shudder for tne welfare of America during the coming years.

An increase of savagery in the "land of the free and the home of the brave" which since 1889 has done 3,433 persons to death without due process of law, means an increased speed in the easy descent to a reigm of unbridled passion and license from which state the ascent to a state of decent living will be far more laborious.

And the wonder of it is that in those communities where this savagery is most pronounced, there is the greatest opposition to an attempt at its control.

Almost coincident with the publication of the lynching record comes the announcement that the Dyer Bill, now pending a vote in Congress, is being fought by every known means by representatives of those states in which lynchings have been most frequent. Representatives of South Carolina, Tennessee, North Carolina, Louisiana and Texas have distinguished themselves by the quality of their opposition to this bill aimed at the suppression of lynching which is slowly but surely rendering the work of the founders of our American civilization void and as of no moment. And the states which they represent have contributed greatly to the record of savagery as it has been written in America since 1889. Since 1889 Texas has lynched 333 persons, Louisiana 326, Tennessee 199, South Carolina 128, North Carolina 63. Of this number of persons eleven were women. In the list of states which have been remarkable for their lynching propensities Texas stands second, with its 333, being exceeded in this savagery only by Georgia which leads the country with a total of 428 mob murders since 1889.

It will indeed be deplorable if the better mind of America fails now to assert itself and safeguard American interests from the pillaging hands of her unrestrained citizens who are besmirching her good name and mocking her boasted democracy.

If lynching does not stop the orderly processes of law must stop. The two cannot exist cojointly.

The opposition to the Dyer bill seems to be bassed upon the assumption that it would allow the federal goverment to encroach upon, the rights of states and render their sovereignty empty. For this reason it has been called dangerous and it has been prophesied that its passage will be followed by an increase in lynching which federal power will find itself powerless to stop.

It may be successfully argued that such reasoning has been largely responsible for the increase of lynching to the point that efforts at its control are now being made by the federal government. And it is also true that since 1889 every state in which a lynching has occurred has had ample opportunity to exert its sovereignty and pass measures which would have rendered federal intervention at this time unnecessary. But none of them have chosen to do this. And, while it is easy to understand their fear of a loss of sovereignty to the Federal Government when we review the history of the last one hundred years one is prone to feel that now, if ever, they should begin to realize that just as lynching is not purely sectional, neither would federal intervention for its suppression be. And whatever other considerations might arise, they should realize that without some sort of intervention speedily assured, neither their sovereignty nor that of the Federal government will be able to maintain itself nor guarantee its perpetuation.

There must come a time in American life when sectional bitternesses and political bickerings will be lost sight of in the desire that the united efforts of all may be centered upon the highest good of national accomplishment. A nation of lynchers is not worthy of emulation nor can it hope long to maintain itself. A lynching in any state is an American lynching. Any such barbarity has no place in an enlightened government.

Every American state may well realize that such a record for barbarity should be rewritten in terms of orderly proceedure even at the expense of federal control.

No comments: