Clarence Thomas introduced that ugly phrase into the popular imagination with his pleading, desperate defense against sexual harassment charges during the Anita Hill scandal. Since that moment, it has become a type of lengua franca for black conservatives and their defenders.
Ann Coulter has used that ugly language to defend Herman Cain. Rush Limbaugh has used that ugly language to defend Herman Cain. Herman Cain himself has feigned martyrdom and invited a high tech lynching as proof of his bonafides as a black conservative.
The history of African Americans is a plaything for the Right and black conservatives. They pretend that Dr. King would have supported them, that the Democratic Party is a plantation, and black people are zombies and brainwashed fools--as opposed to a radically democratic and revolutionary people whose struggles have forced American democracy to live up to its potential and creed. Thus, the use of the phrase high tech lynching by conservatives, and their black lapdogs, is in no way a surprise.
A lack of surprise at their abuse of language, and distortion of history, is not a defense; nor is it an excuse. Herman Cain is not being lynched--be it by "high tech" or "low tech" means. Black conservatives are not being lynched--be it by "liberals" or other black folks.
If conservatives are willing to evoke the ancestors, and a very dark, twisted, and troubling history to make a cheap political point, they ought to be willing to look into the face of the very legacy and reality they reference.
To point: the political action committee Americans for Herman Cain has circulated an email provocatively titled "Don’t let the left ‘lynch’ another black conservative." This letter is intended to rally the troops in a spirited defense of their chosen son against an evil mob that would do him harm, hanging him from the lynching tree, where he would dangle like so much strange fruit.
As an experiment and object lesson, I am going to mate Herman Cain and his ally's pleas for money with some actual images from America's century-long history of lynching. Perhaps this simple act will expose the ugliness, cowardice, and disrespect that Black Conservatives and others have for the history of African Americans (and our struggle for full freedom and equality across the Black Atlantic), when they play with the language of racialized violence and slavery.
Folks often forget that words are violence. When Herman Cain and his allies utter the phrase "high tech lynching" they are committing a violent act. The tragedy for Herman Cain is that his allusions to lynching are a type of self-inflicted wound against the black community, a group to which he has some ostensible attachment.
I am troubled by that fact; However, I am more disturbed that Herman Cain, a child of the South, and Jim and Jane Crow, may not understand the harm that he does to himself, and to others, when he cries that he is a victim of human barbarism, most gross and most cruel.
I have a request. Herman Cain, please get the phrase "high tech lynching" out of your mouth. Please, tell your alllies to do the same. You are not being lynched. Nor, are you under any such existential threat.
Is a picture worth a thousand words? I suggest that it is...
Don’t let the left ‘lynch’ another black conservative