Lynching (1927)

Lynching (1927)

There were thirty-four lynchings in the United States in 1926, nearly twice as many as in 1925.

There is no doubt as to the reason of the increase. The fear of the Dyer Bill has been removed from the minds of the murderers. This is but a louder call for Federal legislation. There is no civilized country on earth which would allow in one year thirty-four mob murders to occur without even investigation in most cases and in no case with adequate attempt at punishment. Even the recent imprisonment of Georgia lynchers is not a real case in point, because the man lynched was white. If he had been a Negro these lynchers in jail probability would have gone scot-free.

The Nation, therefore, is fronted by a situation. Certain parts of the land are so dominated by their uncivilized elements that they cannot punish murder. There never was any excuse for lynching in group hysteria from “unusual” crime but today this is not even alleged. The case is simply, as in Aiken, the inability of the law to function. What shall a nation do in such case? Sit still and recount the certainly encouraging fact that at least the newspapers are “speaking out”? Or see that the strong hand of the Federal government falls upon the community that will not or cannot punish mob murder?

Senator Borah writes to warn us that the Dyer Bill was only a political trick and hopelessly unconstitutional. Very good. Why do not Senator Borah and the other decent men in Congress unite to frame a bill that will be constitutional? It is sheer nonsense to allege that a great country like the United States cannot stop wholesale murder because of petty legal technicalities.

Citation: Du Bois, W.E.B. 1927. “Lynching.” The Crisis. 33(4):180–181.