On Tuesday, President Donald Trump urged Republicans to “remember what they are witnessing here — a lynching.” Democrats and #NeverTrump Republicans rushed to condemn the president’s use of the term.
#NeverTrump Republican Joe Walsh said this was evidence that Trump is a “horrible human being.” Julián Castro called the lynching comparison “beyond shameful.” Kamala Harris accused Trump of invoking “the pain and trauma of lynching” to “whitewash [his] own corruption.” Elizabeth Warren called Trump’s tweet “beyond disgraceful.”
Most notoriously, former Vice President Joe Biden called the comparison “abhorrent” and “despicable.”
“Impeachment is not ‘lynching,’ it is part of our Constitution,” Biden tweeted. “Our country has a dark, shameful history with lynching, and to even think about making this comparison is abhorrent. It’s despicable.”
Impeachment is not "lynching," it is part of our Constitution. Our country has a dark, shameful history with lynching, and to even think about making this comparison is abhorrent. It's despicable. https://t.co/QcC25vhNeb
— Joe Biden (Text Join to 30330) (@JoeBiden) October 22, 2019
Yet Democrats and #NeverTrump Republicans have also compared political attacks to lynchings, some in cases of impeachment. Some even accused Trump of egging on a lynching against Hillary Clinton…
Here are ten politicians who made the “despicable” comparison without triggering the outrage directed at Trump.
1. Joe Biden
As PJ Media’s Matt Margolis reported, Biden is himself guilty of the “despicable” comparison. In 1998, then-Senator Joe Biden (D-Del.) suggested the impeachment of then-President Bill Clinton was a “political lynching.”
Joe Biden in 1998:
"Even if the President should be impeached, history is going to question whether or not this was just a partisan lynching…" pic.twitter.com/6p31OiShYr
— Trump War Room – Text WOKE to 88022 (@TrumpWarRoom) October 22, 2019
To be fair, Biden later apologized.
“This wasn’t the right word to use and I’m sorry about that,” Biden tweeted Tuesday evening. “Trump on the other hand chose his words deliberately today in his use of the word lynching and continues to stoke racial divides in this country daily.”
Was Trump’s use of “lynching” an attempt to “stoke racial divides”? Or was the president merely reaching for a way to condemn what he sees as a lawless coup attempt — and echoing Biden himself?
2. Jerry Nadler
Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), now chair of the House Judiciary Committee, which would lead an impeachment against Trump, himself compared Clinton’s impeachment to a lynching no less than three times. Specifically, he called House Republicans a “lynch mob.”
“We shouldn’t participate in a lynch mob against the president,” Nadler told Newsday on Sept. 13, 1998. Five days later, he said he saw “no evidence that the Republicans want to do anything other than organize a Lynch mob.”
In October 1998, Nadler told the Associated Press that Republicans were “running a lynch mob” against Clinton.
3. David J. Leland
Unless you live in Ohio, you likely haven’t heard of David J. Leland. The former chair of the Ohio Democratic Party, Leland is a political force in one of America’s key swing states. He helped former Gov. Ted Strickland (D-Ohio) raise $17 million.
In 1998, Leland said, “The vast majority of Ohio Democrats want to see this President continue in office, because they know a political lynching when they see one.” How “despicable!”
4. Jim McDermott
Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.), now retired, also compared the Clinton impeachment to a lynching.
“This feels today like we’re taking a step down the road to becoming a political lynch mob,” McDermott fumed, according to The Baltimore Sun. “Find the rope, find the tree and ask a bunch of questions later.”
5. Danny Davis
Rep. Danny K. Davis (D-Ill.) condemned Trump for the lynching comparison on Tuesday. “The highest officeholder should think about these words,” he tweeted. “The rural south where I was born has a tarnished and painful history.”
Yet in 1998, Davis called the Clinton impeachment a “lynching.”
6. Gregory Meeks.
Like Davis, Rep. Gregory W. Meeks (D-N.Y.) condemned Trump for his comparison.
“I don’t expect Trump to be sensitive to the weight of that word, or see how insulting and hurtful it is to invoke it here,” he tweeted. Yet, also like Davis, Meeks had compared Clinton’s impeachment to a lynching on the House floor.
Meeks defended his comments in a statement to The Washington Post, suggesting that Trump’s comparison was worse because — according to Meeks — the president is a racist. “Yes, I said those words, but context matters,” he said. “There is a difference when that word is used by someone of my experience and perspective, whose relatives were the targets of lynch mobs, compared to a president who has dog-whistled to white nationalists and peddled racism.”
“This is the birther president, who called African nations s—holes and urban cities infested. Those he called ‘very fine people’ in Charlottesville were the kind of people who lynched those who looked like me. So, yes — there are certain words I am more at liberty to invoke than Donald J. Trump,” Meeks concluded. Many of the Trump remarks Meeks referenced were not racist, and the president made clear he did not consider the white nationalists and neo-Nazis part of the “fine people” in Charlottesville.
7. Patrick Kennedy
Then-Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.), nephew to former President John F. Kennedy, described the Clinton impeachment as a “political lynching.”
8. Marion Berry
In 1990, Marion Barry, former Democratic mayor of Washington, D.C., accused the Department of Justice of launching a “political lynching” against him after he was indicted on felony drug charges.
9. Never Trumper Christopher Shays
In August 2016, former Rep. Christopher Shays (R-Ct.) accused Trump of egging on the lynching … of Hillary Clinton.
“So I watched the conventions. Republicans had a very dark convention. It was almost like a lynching, you know — guilty and lock her up,” Shays told CNN. “And I thought this isn’t the party of Ronald Reagan and it ain’t the party that I joined.”
10. Justin Fairfax
After he was accused of sexual assault, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D-Va.) described the accusations against him and the calls for his resignation as a lynching.
“I have heard much about anti-lynching on the floor of this very Senate, where people are not given any due process whatsoever, and we rue that,” Fairfax said in February. “And yet we stand here in a rush to judgment in nothing but accusations and no facts, and we are deciding we are willing to do the same thing.”
Fairfax is descended from slaves, so he arguably has a stronger claim to use the term. Even so, he used it in the same political manner as the others. Some Democrats did attack Fairfax for using the term, but he received nothing like the criticism Trump has.
Honorable mention: Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton did not accuse Trump of carrying out a lynching against her, but she did accuse him of “inciting mob violence” that recalls Lynch mobs.
“When you are inciting mob violence, which is what Trump is doing, there’s a lot of memories that people have. They’re in the DNA. People remember mob violence that lead to lynching, people remember mob violence that lead to people being shot, being grabbed, being mistreated. And it’s something that has a deep, almost psychological resonance to people who have ever been in any position of feeling somewhat fearful, somewhat worried,” Clinton told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews in March 2016.
Trump arguably should not have used the word, but the faux outrage of the left is ridiculous.
Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.