Although some like to claim President Obama’s election as proof that this country has officially overcome racism, a Republican homeowner in Texas proved that we actually have quite a bit of work ahead of us. Bud Johnson lynched a chair in his front yard in Austin, TX earlier this week. Johnson was obviously inspired by Clint Eastwood’s speech during which he addressed an empty chair as a stand-in for Obama.
The message is clear: lynch President Obama. It is not meant to simply express disagreement with Obama, it is a call for violence. The president has faced many racist attacks since he first began campaigning years ago: questions about his citizenship, questionable caricatures, and flat-out racial epithets. The lynched chair, however, is a new low.
As Katherine Haenschen of Burnt Orange Report points out, “We have a sad and awful history of white people lynching African-Americans in Texas, and this history is exactly what this Republican’s front yard display taps into.” There are hundreds of years of racism and oppression behind that lynched chair. Such “decoration” celebrates a history of violence and hatred. And this particular display aims that history directly at President Obama. When asked about the display, Johnson replied, ”I don’t really give a damn whether it disturbs you or not. You can take [your concerns] and go straight to hell and take Obama with you. I don’t give a s–t. If you don’t like it, don’t come down my street.”
Unfortunately, people are already jumping in to defend Johnson’s lynched chair citing freedom of speech, crying “So no one is allowed to disagree with Obama now?!” Of course, this man is free to express his views, but calls for violence should be taken seriously. Johnson himself admitted that he meant to “show support” for Eastwood’s speech but claims that the display was not racist (of course). It is time to stop kidding ourselves: this display is racist, and our president has faced endless racist attacks. If we want to truly move forward as a nation, we need to take a stand against racist displays like Johnson’s.