The Lynching of Cynthia McKinney

Laurel Thatcher Ulrich once pointed out that, “Well behaved women rarely make history.” Perhaps she should have added that women who are deemed to have thrown what Marianne Means characterized as a “hissy fit” will surely become infamous.

While most of us would agree that taking a swing at a police officer is not a well considered thing to do, that does not invalidate McKinney’s charges of racism and inappropriate touching. Nor does it justify the vicious and ignorant political and media lynching that followed.

First of all, let’s get some facts straight. McKinney was not wearing her optional lapel pin, but according to WXIA-TV in Atlanta, she did show her Congressional ID. It is also not the first time that the Capitol police have failed to recognize McKinney, something that is documented in the new film “American Blackout”. And as Representative Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas told Amy Goodman on Democracy Now, the same thing has happened to her and sometimes the manner in which she has been treated, “is not necessarily accepting.”

Nor is this is not the only time that charges of racial discrimination have been leveled against the Capitol Police. In 2001, Black Capitol police officers filed a racial discrimination suit against the department. Inappropriate behavior towards Black legislators has also not been limited to the nation’s capitol. At Coretta Scott King’s funeral, the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus was not allowed to join the funeral procession because the Georgia Capitol police did not recognize them as elected officials.

Astoundingly, the media lost no time in broadcasting Tom DeLay’s pronouncement that ethics charges should be brought against McKinney for her “outrageous” behavior. Did they think that a man who spearheaded a redistricting plan that the Justice Department has deemed to be in violation of the Voting Rights Act and who is leaving office because of his own unethical behavior was qualified to make such charges?

But most amazing was Neil Boortz’ bizarre rant about McKinney’s hairstyle on his nationally syndicated radio show. Boortz described her hair as “an explosion at a brillo factory” that made her look like “a ghetto slut” who “shows contempt for the position she holds” Sadly, Boortz’ “ghetto slut” characterization is probably not too far off from how many view McKinney.

It is telling that the media has not deemed it noteworthy to investigate her claims of inappropriate touching. While most of us know that it isn’t a good idea to take a stab at a cop with something so lethal as a cell phone, as a woman (and a lifelong pacifist), I can easily concede that my gut reaction to being touched in an uncomfortable way might well be to swing out with whatever might be in my hand. It’s unfortunate that the Capitol police will not release the video of the incident, one wonders what it might reveal.

The media has also made much about other Blacks and women in Congress not rushing to her aid. Of course these would be the same folks who didn’t question Bush’s claims of WMD’s, wouldn’t filibuster Alito (even though his nomination posed a grave risk to women’s rights), wouldn’t stand with Russ Feingold in his Censure of President Bush, etc. Spinal strength has never been a strong point among elected officials and in an election year, they tend to take on the persona of jellyfish.

It should be noted that McKinney briefly lost her seat because of a well orchestrated effort to retaliate for her outspoken views on such issues as the Iraq war and Palestinian human rights. Two years later she regained her seat. Perhaps this should be a cautionary note to her detractors. And certainly newspapers such as the Louisville Courier-Journal should consider doing some basic research before labeling McKinney’s actions as “groundless” because the reality is, the Congresswoman has a point.

LUCINDA MARSHALL is a feminist artist, writer and activist. She is the Founder of the Feminist Peace Network, www.feministpeacenetwork.org.



More articles by:
Weekend Edition
March 23, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Roberto J. González
The Mind-Benders: How to Harvest Facebook Data, Brainwash Voters, and Swing Elections
Paul Street
Deplorables II: The Dismal Dems in Stormy Times
Nick Pemberton
The Ghost of Hillary
Andrew Levine
Light at the End of the Tunnel?
Paul de Rooij
Amnesty International: Trumpeting for War… Again
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Coming in Hot
Chuck Gerhart
Sessions Exploits a Flaw to Pursue Execution of Meth Addicts
Robert Fantina
Distractions, Thought Control and Palestine
Hiroyuki Hamada
The Eyes of “Others” for Us All
Robert Hunziker
Is the EPA Hazardous to Your Health?
Stephanie Savell
15 Years After the Iraq Invasion, What Are the Costs?
Aidan O'Brien
Europe is Pregnant 
John Eskow
How Can We Live With All of This Rage?
Matthew Stevenson
Why Vietnam Still Matters: Was Khe Sanh a Win or a Loss?
Dan Corjescu
The Man Who Should Be Dead
Howard Lisnoff
The Bone Spur in Chief
Brian Cloughley
Hitler and the Poisoning of the British Public
Brett Wilkins
Trump Touts $12.5B Saudi Arms Sale as US Support for Yemen War Literally Fuels Atrocities
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Iraqi Landscapes: the Path of Martyrs
Brian Saady
The War On Drugs Is Far Deadlier Than Most People Realize
Stephen Cooper
Battling the Death Penalty With James Baldwin
CJ Hopkins
Then They Came for the Globalists
Philip Doe
In Colorado, See How They Run After the Fracking Dollars
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: Armed Propaganda
Binoy Kampmark
John Brennan’s Trump Problem
Nate Terani
Donald Trump’s America: Already Hell Enough for This Muslim-American
Steve Early
From Jackson to Richmond: Radical Mayors Leave Their Mark
Jill Richardson
To Believe in Science, You Have to Know How It’s Done
Ralph Nader
Ten Million Americans Could Bring H.R. 676 into Reality Land—Relief for Anxiety, Dread and Fear
Sam Pizzigati
Billionaires Won’t Save the World, Just Look at Elon Musk
Sergio Avila
Don’t Make the Border a Wasteland
Daryan Rezazad
Denial of Climate Change is Not the Problem
Ron Jacobs
Flashing for the Refugees on the Unarmed Road of Flight
Missy Comley Beattie
The Age of Absurdities and Atrocities
George Wuerthner
Isle Royale: Manage for Wilderness Not Wolves
George Payne
Pompeo Should Call the Dogs Off of WikiLeaks
Russell Mokhiber
Study Finds Single Payer Viable in 2018 Elections
Franklin Lamb
Despite Claims, Israel-Hezbollah War is Unlikely
Montana Wilderness Association Dishonors Its Past
Elizabeth “Liz” Hawkins, RN
Nurses Are Calling #TimesUp on Domestic Abuse
Paul Buhle
A Caribbean Giant Passes: Wilson Harris, RIP
Mel Gurtov
A Blank Check for Repression? A Saudi Leader Visits Washington
Seth Sandronsky
Hoop schemes: Sacramento’s corporate bid for an NBA All-Star Game
Louis Proyect
The French Malaise, Now and Then
David Yearsley
Bach and the Erotics of Spring