Don’t let House Republican Chip Roy get away with this

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These days Texas is surely suffering from an embarrassment of riches in cringe-worthy comments by asshole Republican politicians such as Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, Gov. Greg Abbott and Rep. Louie Gohmert. Now Charles Eugene “Chip” Roy, a dude originally from Virginia who probably watched too many old cowboy movies, has added his two cents showing he either does not know or care about the heinous history of lynching in Texas.

During a Congressional hearing March 18 to review the alarming surge in assaults on Asian and Pacific Islanders (APIs), Roy hit the refresh button, objected to “thought policing” associating the rise in API hate crimes with calling COVID-19 the China Virus and then advised listeners to “find all the rope in Texas and get a tall oak tree” to take care of bad guys. Roy’s visceral remarks about lynching set the room and the media aghast in the midst of hearing about explicit violence that included being spat on, pushed, beaten, cut and the brutal murder of six Asian women in Atlanta. Given the opportunity to retract his words glorifying lynching, actually lyrics from a Toby Keith song called “Beer for My Horses,” Roy arrogantly decided to double down. Roy is all hat and no cattle to speak of lynching in those callous tones.

Roy has received superb training on how to insert both boots, including spurs, into his mouth as he counts both Cornyn and Cruz among his mentors. He worked for John Cornyn when he was Texas attorney general, joined Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s administration as director of the Office of State-Federal Relations, ghostwrote Perry’s 2010 book Fed Up and then served as chief of staff to Sen. Ted Cruz. Roy’s district stretches from south Austin to downtown San Antonio. Since both cities vote Democratic, Roy’s election is a remarkable feat in the crazy quilt of gerrymandered districts created by the Republican-held legislature to give themselves an unfair political edge. The GOP calls this gerrymandering technique “cracking,” as the party in control spreads the opposing party’s supporters across several districts to reduce their voting power.

Lest Roy is truly bereft of education or befuddled about Texas’ sorry past with lynchings, somebody should advise him not to dig up more snakes than he can kill. As he was schooled in Virginia, at least his learning deficiencies cannot be blamed on Texas public schools – where the highly politicized textbook adoption process arbitrarily slashes much of minority history from the social studies curriculum. Roy should know that Texas has an especially hideous history of lynching primarily African Americans and Hispanics. Lynching is the essence of illegal and racist vigilantism. It is not just a hate crime against an individual but is also meant to intimidate and suppress primarily communities of color.

Every region of Texas has experienced lynchings, but East Texas has a horrendous legacy of white supremacy that accounts for almost half of all lynchings in the state. One Texas lynching within recent memory, that James Byrd, Jr., was an impetus for President Barack Obama’s 2009 federal law “The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.” Shepard was tortured and murdered in Wyoming a few months after Byrd’s death in Jasper, Texas in the summer of 1998. On a Saturday evening in June, James Byrd Jr., a 49-year-old disabled African American vacuum salesman, was walking to his apartment in Jasper when he was offered a ride by three avowed white supremacists from the town – John King, Lawrence Brewer and Shawn Berry. Byrd accepted the lift but instead of taking him home, they took him into the woods, beat him with a baseball bat, urinated on him and chained him by the ankles to the back of their truck. They dragged him for three miles and then threw his headless remains in front of an African American church where he was discovered as people gathered for Sunday church services. Brewer and King were the first white men to be sentenced to death for killing a black person in the history of modern Texas. King, sporting racist tattoos that included a black man hanging from a tree, remained unrepentant as he was executed.

Chip Roy might be pleased to know Texas is infamous for continuing to hold lynchings for more years than almost any other state. Mississippi, Georgia and Texas are vying for the ignominious honor of being the state with the most documented lynchings. From 1882 – 1968 Mississippi had 581 lynchings; Georgia 531; and Texas 493. However one recent study by the Lynching in Texas project shows Texas may actually hold the lead with a verified 755 lynchings. According to this study, documented lynchings of Mexicans and Mexican Americans in South Texas in the early 1900s by state-supported entities like the Texas Rangers and other law enforcement authorities had been previously ignored and must be included.

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