Conservatives forget history with Trump effigy outrage

Earlier this week, comedian Kathy Griffin published a video and photos of her holding a decapitated effigy of President Trump. Regardless of where you fall on the political spectrum, most agree that the disturbing display was done in extremely poor taste.

TMZ reported that Trump's 11-year-old son, Barron, was very upset by the images, prompting even more condemnation from both sides of the partisan aisle.

However, in the discourse that followed, conservatives appear to have forgotten their history in the treatment of Barack ObamaBarack ObamaCongress needs to assert the war power against a dangerous president CNN's Don Lemon: Anyone supporting Trump ‘complicit' in racism DOJ warrant of Trump resistance site triggers alarm MORE during his presidency.

"It's amazing how the left, particularly Hollywood, have no limits to their cruelty and hatred. What would they say if that happened to Obama," wrote one commentator on Twitter.

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"Kathy Griffin holds mock-up of Trump's decapitated head & liberals call it ‘art.’ If any conservative did this to Obama they'd be arrested," Tweeted another.

 

Despite the claims from conservatives, the reality is that Obama did face this type of treatment during his presidency and worse.

Last year, I wrote an article about how “Obama’s presidency was marked by effigies of our first black president hanging from nooses across the country ... or being burned around the world.”

For example, there is currently a 54-minute video on YouTube entitled Nationwide Burning of Effigies and Images of President Hussein Obama, published by a group called Stand Up America Now. 

The video opens with two effigies of Obama hanging from nooses with a fake gravestone in the background that reads “OBAMA DEAD,” as well as a church and an upside-down flag.

Following presentations from multiple speakers at the event, the video concludes with a white man in sunglasses using a propane torch to light the Obama effigies on fire, prompting a round of applause and cheers from the crowd.

Sasha Obama was 11-years-old when this display was published.

Where was the conservative outrage when this happened? Or when the same group burned 2,998 Korans less than one year later?

This group asserted their first amendment rights for political and artistic speech and they weren’t alone.

Ted Nugent threatened to kill Barack Obama and Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonAssange meets U.S. congressman, vows to prove Russia did not leak him documents High-ranking FBI official leaves Russia probe OPINION | Steve Bannon is Trump's indispensable man — don't sacrifice him to the critics MORE during an onstage rant. Effigies of Obama were burned at a bar in Milwaukee; as well as hung from a tree at the University of Kentucky; a building in Plains, Ga.; and a noose in the front yard of a home in Moreno Valley, Calif.

In explaining the catalyst for his Obama effigy, one man from Fairfield, Ohio, said that he didn’t want “an African American running the country.”

Americans have a long history of citizens committing violence against president effigies to voice political dissent. 

James Madison, John Tyler, Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and Jimmy Carter were all burned in effigy during their presidencies. And each time this happened, the offending party leaders repudiated the distasteful and disrespectful actions of their constituents.

Ultimately, it is important to understand our history so we can learn from it and develop bipartisan empathy moving forward.

Kimberly Mehlman-Orozco holds a Ph.D. in Criminology, Law and Society from George Mason University, with an expertise in human trafficking. She currently serves as a human trafficking expert witness for criminal cases and her book, “Hidden in Plain Sight: America's Slaves of the New Millennium,” will be published by Praeger/ABC-Clio this year. Mehlman-Orozco’s writing can be found in Thompson Reuters, Forbes, The Washington Post, The Houston Chronicle, The Baltimore Sun, The Crime Report and The Diplomatic Courier.


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