Trump’s rally at the BancorpSouth Arena in Tupelo, Miss., next week will land him in the state with the most total lynchings of blacks from 1882 to 1968, according to the NAACP. Over that time span, 581 lynchings took place in Mississippi; more than 90 percent of victims were African American.
Trump’s rally, to be held four days before Magnolia State voters elect a governor, is aimed at boosting the turnout of his mainly white “Make America Great Again” crowd and getting some adulation for himself. He has done that before.
Trump was in Mississippi a year ago to stump for Republican Senate candidate Cindy Hyde-Smith, who was seeking the seat Sen. Thad Cochran vacated in 2018 because of health issues. Trump’s campaign rallies and roundtable event did Hyde-Smith some good. She made it to the Senate with an eight-point margin of victory over Democrat Mike Espy, who would have become Mississippi’s first black U.S. senator since Reconstruction. Trump helped her along by telling Mississippians that a vote for Espy was a vote for “socialism and open borders.”
There were, by the way, things about Hyde-Smith that rubbed some Mississippians, especially black voters, the wrong way. Like when she told one supporter that she was so fond of him that “if he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row.”
And they didn’t think it was much of a joke when video appeared showing Hyde-Smith telling a small crowd in Starkville, Miss., that “they remind me that there’s a lot of liberal folks in those other schools who maybe we don’t want to vote. Maybe we want to make it just a little more difficult. And I think that’s a great idea.”
Jokes about hanging and voter suppression don’t go over well with African Americans living in a state with such an ugly racial history.
But Hyde-Smith went over well with Trump, so he went all out for her.
Just as he is going all out for himself now with his faux self-portrayal as a lynching victim.
Trump knows the difference.
There’s no way to visit those museums and not take away the story of the 1955 murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till, visiting Mississippi from Chicago, by white men who used barbed wire to tie a cotton gin fan around his neck and dumped his body in the Tallahatchie River. Or the 1964 ambushing and killing of three civil rights workers — Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman — who were trying to register voters near the town of Philadelphia, Miss.
Trump knows better. He also knows that he is in a world of trouble.
What better way to cope with what’s beleaguering him in Washington than to get out of town and take the stage down south, where he can bask in the roar of an adoring crowd. Presenting himself as a victim of mob vigilantism endears him all the more to his base.
That ploy might work for Trump in Mississippi. But it gets him nowhere in our nation’s capital, where he’s cornered by the Constitution.
There is no ritualized execution taking place in the House of Representatives. At work is a constitutionally approved inquiry into whether Trump has engaged in high crimes and misdemeanors through the abuse of his authority, gross dishonesty, lawbreaking and engaging in conduct unbecoming of a president of the United States.
That’s not a public lynching of Donald Trump. On display is nothing less than a nation of laws at work.
And Trump can’t make it stop. Now that must be torture for him.
Read more from Colbert King’s archive.