THE E’ER INSCRUTABLE | 1916 Annus Fructus Extranei: Lynching and America’s Blood Theatre
“The chief failing of the day with some of our well-meaning philanthropists is their absolute refusal to face inevitable facts, if such facts appear cruel.” -Madison Grant, The Passing of the Great Race
As a prelude to his article, the second of my series on tumult and upheaval in 1916, I must warn any potential reader that the content may be distressing to those sensitive to racism and violence. I would advise discretion. The controlled use of violence as spectacle has been a social glue since time immemorial: the Romans handpicked slaves to fight to the death over the graves of their patrician masters, and the despots of feudal Europe relished the drawing, quartering and parading of ghettoized pariahs and their ilk, be they Jewish, Huguenot, or Cathar. These previous blood-shows of Antiquity and the Middle Ages were the concerted efforts of knightly orders to, as they saw it, cut off gangrenous social limbs from the corpus politicum. D.H. Lawrence, in his compendium of critical analysis on the growth and stagnation of American literature, once wrote that a white man would never be at ease on American soil: the dust and mud and bronzed ochre itself would forever reject him, the usurper of one native population and the enslaver of a another he had imported.