THE RIGHT ISN’T QUITE DONE WITH SHIRLEY SHERROD…. Perhaps the only person who came out of the Shirley Sherrod controversy looking better was the one who was forced to resign from her job. The right went after Sherrod, but the result of the dispute was her looking like something of a hero, and her attackers losing all credibility.
But conservatives aren’t quite done with Shirley Sherrod just yet. They’ve started with the conclusion — Sherrod must be wrong about something — and are working backwards to rationalize the preconceived narrative. To that end, the American Spectator has a piece today accusing Sherrod of lying about sheriff Claude Screws lynching Bobby Hall, a Sherrod relative.
If you’re unfamiliar with the case, it originated in Baker County, in rural southwest Georgia, where Sherrod is from. In 1943, Screws, the white sheriff, arrested a black man, Hall, who was accused of theft and taken to the local courthouse in handcuffs. Upon their arrival, Screws and his two white deputies mercilessly beat Hall, by some accounts for as long as 30 minutes. Screws then dragged Hall’s unconscious body, feet first, through the courthouse square. Hall died soon after.
Screws was convicted on federal charges, but the Supreme Court ultimately overturned the conviction over inaccurate jury instructions.
In her speech, Sherrod explained, “Claude Screws lynched a black man.” The American Spectator wants readers to believe she was lying — because Screws didn’t use a rope. Hall was beaten to death, but to writer Jeffrey Lord, a former Reagan political aide, that apparently doesn’t count.
As Paul Campos noted, “It’s hard to understand how this kind of thing gets published in a world that includes editors, higher cognitive function, and/or common decency.”
I’ll just let Adam Serwer take it from here:
A lynching is an extrajudicial mob killing. No one who worked to document the practice of lynching in the South limited the definition of the term to solely include those lynchings that occurred using a rope. […]
Now does three guys beating someone to death sound like an extrajudicial mob killing to you? Well Lord thinks it’s merely “brutal fisticuffs” because under the definition of lynching he just made up, you need a rope to make it official — I mean they didn’t even set the guy on fire for crying out loud! It’s almost as if instead of being a Southerner tortured by the knowledge of past racial injustice, he’s someone who didn’t know very much about lynching or segregation before he decided to call Shirley Sherrod a liar without bothering to use Google first.
The right’s misconduct last week was nauseating, but the American Spectator‘s piece is beneath contempt.