There are no adjectives that do justice to the depravity that is documented in this book. No book I have read has been more disturbing to read or comment upon. The reason is the proximity in time and place of these events of pure evil.
Twenty-three States, one shy of 50% of the Continental United States, are represented in this book. Many of the States not involved are sparsely populated to this day. To say this genocide/holocaust was pervasive is more than reasonable. I use holocaust in its literal meaning of "wholly consumed by fire". I note the difference, as the events in Nazi Germany did not take place here. The burning of human victims on the soil of The United States has its own distinctive horror, which must be acknowledged as part of our History.
The word History often implies a buffer of time; a space to distance ourselves from what some would like to forget. I have read, "Blacks should get over it". This is generally a claim that all this sadism ended with Lincoln. It is true that "only" 75% of the lynching in the book are of "Blacks", but as the number of lynchings decreased the percentage rose to 90%. This book shows a lynching from the 1960's, NOT the 1860's. If the authors chose to include other photos, the murder by dragging in Texas of a "Black" man would bring us if not literally to today, then a number of years so low in single digits, recounting it as a number of months ago may be more reasonable.
The other vacuous defense I have noted is, "I, my Family, my Grandparents, never did own slaves", and so on. And so what? What is documented in this book is less prevalent today because you will likely be caught and jailed/executed, because the world is watching, and now we care what others think. Do people suppose the basic nature of those that did or watched these acts, many of who are alive today has changed? Change doesn't happen in 40 years. When Franklin Delano Roosevelt refused to sign anti-lynching legislation, while one million black soldiers fought for what this Country is supposed to represent, he sent a message not just about losing the Southern vote for his Presidency, but a much wider apathy.
The sport of lynching attracted huge crowds. Special trains would bring entire Families to watch. One murder and mutilation was witnessed by 15,000 people. One 9 year old who could easily be alive today, and if so I truly hope is sane and was only an unwilling victim of Parents stated "I have seen a man hanged" he told his Mother "now I wish I could see one burned".
What the book did not mention, and what would be devastating if done, is if the press chose to track down the participants and or the viewers. The photographs are there, the companies that made the postcards are probably gone, but the postcards were addressed. Some of the deviants of our species highlighted their faces when sending the cards to friends and Family.
What would that exposure accomplish, for what is in those pictures is part of all of us, it is our nature. We are the only species that tortures its own for pleasure and amusement. From the text;
"What was strikingly new and different in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was the sadism and exhibitionism that characterized white violence. To kill the victim was not enough; the execution became public theater, a participatory ritual of torture and death, a voyeuristic spectacle prolonged as long as possible (once for 7 hours) for the benefit of the crowd".
And it gets worse, parts of victims displayed in store windows, the scramble for body parts as mementos. Piece of human bone on a watch chain perhaps? And if you can imagine, there is even more.
To this day our President can say nothing in terms of an official apology. Were he to do so the subject of reparations would arise, and that would be inconvenient now wouldn't it?
Mr. Randall Robinson wrote "The Debt, What America Owes To Blacks" that I believe would interest those who have read this work. The book "The Unsteady March: The Rise And Decline of Racial Equality in America" by Philip A. Klinkner and Rogers M. Smith, also makes excellent reading.
Until we acknowledge as a people and as a Government, what happened in this Country for centuries, this book will be just that, a book. There will someday be a people capable of living in a Democracy and not abusing what it offers. If that Nation of People exists I have yet to read of them.
Germany took responsibility for its crimes, why can't we. Why do we suffer as allies the Nation of Turkey that slaughtered Armenians by the millions, and to this day denied it happened?
The letter the man wrote below to his Children is beautiful. I wish I could agree with the thought that if we know our History we will not repeat it. We know what we have done, the style changes, but we as a people do not. We as a Nation do not require it of other Countries when we are arguably at our most influential. Not our business? Nonsense! Put our house in order, and if others desire our friendship, require the same. If we do not, History will repeat like the Seasons.