On Tuesday, after President Trump tweeted about the impeachment process being tantamount to “lynching,” CNN commentator and former White House aide Keith Boykin chastised him in a graphic tweet.
“Trump tweeted today that the impeachment process against him is a ‘lynching.’ No, sir, this is what a lynching looks like,” Boykin tweeted above a picture of a black man hanging from a tree.
“Thousands of black people were lynched in America from the 1870s to the 1960s. And it happened because of racist, cowardly white men like Donald Trump.”
The tweet is here if you want to see it, but we warn you that it’s graphic in nature.
It was harsh criticism and I don’t necessarily agree with it — especially because Boykin flippantly, tacitly places blame for the unpunished public murders of black men going back almost 150 years on Trump — but it was a reminder that certain words and phrases mean something and that they shouldn’t be thrown around.
Lynching was one of the most onerous blights on our country’s history, and we oughtn’t excuse those invoke it in a context where it doesn’t belong.
On Thursday, Boykin proved he either hadn’t learned or didn’t really believe in his own lesson.
The point, of course, was to draw attention to the secretive nature of the hearings.
The CNN panel did not think this was really the point.
Some of the opinions were more valid than others.
Take CNN host S.E. Cupp, who compared it to a fraternity stunt from the movie “Old School.”
“Matt Gaetz is basically the Will Ferrell of the party — ‘We’re going streaking! Who’s with me?” Cupp said.
“These are fraternity stunts. … They look like fraternity brothers crashing a party that, by the way, many of them were invited to.”
“I’d go further than S.E. would go,” Boykin responded.
And boy, did he ever.
“This looked like a Klan group that is assembled outside a jail trying to get the sheriff to let them in so they could deliver their own justice against somebody who was inside,” Boykin said.
“It is not a good look for our democracy, it is not a good look for the Republican Party,” he said.
“Republicans are already on these committees that are in this impeachment investigation.”
“That’s a quarter of the entire Republican caucus that’s already represented, and they’re creating these political stunts in order to throw off the attention. They’re not focused on the issue of why Trump is being impeached.”
Even Jake Tapper thought the Klan/lynching metaphor was going too far.
“Respectfully, I think the Klan metaphor was a little strong. I don’t want to get into a whole thing, but earlier this week we were talking about lynching and using that word lightly,” Tapper said.
“I used it purposefully, because I felt like it is a visual problem, too, to have this group of almost all white men going in — in defense of the white man who is already, I think, by most accounts, a racist, instead of dealing with the issue of how this person is abusing his power as president of the United States,” Boykin said.
“I just wanted to register and then we can move on,” Tapper said
And move along quickly they did.
One assumes that’s because this was on a network not one day removed from a meltdown over the “lynching” tweet — not Trump’s finest moment by any stretch, it’s worth noting, but certainly not on the level of casting an entire party as “a Klan group assembled outside a jail” with the unspoken implication they were about to lynch somebody.
Yet, from all outward appearances, all Boykin received was a lecture on-air from Tapper, one that sounded less like a meltdown and more like when your dad would say, “I’m not angry at you, I’m just disappointed.”
That’s the consequences. No public dismissal. No apology. Nothing of the sort.
I suppose CNN didn’t believe its own fulminating rhetoric on the invocation of lynching as a metaphor, either.
Furthermore, I’m curious how this links back to race.
A white president calls another white president and suggests he investigate a company associated with the white son of a white presidential candidate. A Democratic Party helmed by a white woman announces an impeachment inquiry being led in part by a white man where most of the principals are white.
The question has to do with whether there was a quid pro quo on Ukrainian military funding based on Trump’s request the Ukrainians launch certain investigations; race never plays into this.
But, because of the whiteness of the GOP representatives and the fact that he thinks they were going into the meeting “in defense of the white man who is already, I think, by most accounts, a racist,” Boykin has identified them as the Klan group.
This isn’t logic, this is an excuse to use a KKK-and-lynching metaphor in a situation where it wasn’t called for.
You know, the same thing that Boykin was outraged about two days earlier.
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