Man hangs empty chair from tree in effigy: Political statement or racist message?
A Texas man recently sparked some controversy for hanging an empty chair from a tree, by a rope, on his front lawn. So what's the big deal if a homeowner wants to hang a chair from a tree on his own property? Well, the big deal comes from the now famous, or infamous, speech given at the Republican National Convention by actor Clint Eastwood. It it, Eastwood poses a number of questions to an empty chair which was supposed to represent President Obama.
Despite the initial ridicule the act received, it now appears that the empty chair is becoming a symbol among some Republicans. The empty chair is indeed seemingly turning into a silent protest and reminder of what some GOP members and most likely other Americans see as the failed policies of the Obama administration. However, one Texas man seems to have taken it to another level.
According to an article on BurntOrange.com, a 73-year-old Austin man, purported to be a Republican, decided an empty chair just wasn't enough, so the man reportedly suspended it from a tree.
The move now has many Americans questioning the motive behind this. The act is viewed by some as a racist gesture toward African American President Barack Obama. Others view it simply as an extreme show of frustration with the current president without any racial connotations at all. The man claims that his display is not racist.
Unfortunately, lynching is a thing that was synonymous with African Americans during an era that was punctuated by acts of violence against blacks by whites. However, historically speaking, lynching was not a practice reserved specifically for African Americans. Lynching was also used in the past as a deterrent to discourage crimes such as cattle rustling and other property crimes. This is a method that was employed quite often in the days where mobs tended to mete out instant justice to those accused of criminal activity.
In light of this, is it truly fair to accuse someone of racism just because the individual who did it was a white man and Obama is black? What would people be saying if Obama was also white? What would they say if the individual who did it was an African American?
While this may arguably be in poor taste, it is not necessarily racially motivated. The report even went as far as to stereotype the man who did it because he appeared to the writer to fit within a certain demographic. Often we rush to judgment when bad things happen between people of different races. This isn't to say that racism doesn't exist because it is most certainly alive and well.
When you hear the word racist what kind of picture comes to your mind? The most prevalent picture of racism today usually involves whites discriminating in some way against blacks. In reality, racism exists in all walks of life and no one is immune to it. As if there wasn't enough things in this world to hate, we have to add each other to the list as well.
These days almost everything has some sort of racial slant to it but nowhere else is it as obvious as in politics. All you hear is about Obama's strategy to garner the Hispanic vote or Romney's plan to win African American votes and so on.
To say these effigies are suggestive that the president should be lynched simply because he is African American may very well be the case in some instances, but it should also be taken into consideration that some who display this could be suggesting something totally opposite from what is perceived.
After all, symbolism without a specific statement to define its meaning can mean many things to many people.
Sometimes I wonder what it would be like if we were all just alike. Then I realize things would likely be just as divided--because we'd probably still have politics.
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