Overprivileged White Guys and Their ‘Lynch Mob’ Fears

I checked out an article from Salon where the CEO of one of the largest insurance companies AIG Robert Benmosche  made a highly absurd, droll and all-around stupid comment about its government funded bonuses. Those bonuses were awarded to keep the insurance giant from sinking despite its questionable and morally criminal business practices in which it then “rewarded” its top executives.

Some people got angry and upset over this realization. They protested, criticized and petitioned the government to take back those bonuses. That didn’t sit too well with Benmosche who said:

“The uproar over bonuses “was intended to stir public anger, to get everybody out there with their pitch forks and their hangman nooses, and all that-sort of like what we did in the Deep South [decades ago]. And I think it was just as bad and just as wrong.”

So then, I thought to myself, “Seriously? After you and your corporation took a dump on the U.S. economy, you now play the innocent victim?” Then again, after blogging for a few years, it is not that unusual. The lynch mob fear is the offspring of white people, white males especially, not only avoiding responsibility for their pathological assholery, but to reverse the guilt back on those who see their crocodile tears. And Benmosche is not alone.

“You may recall the story of Pax Dickinson, the former chief technology officer of Business Insider. After people noticed his years-long history of making vile sexist, racist and homophobic remarks on Twitter, including comments that probably could’ve made his employer vulnerable to a discriminatory hiring suit, lots and lots and lots of people called on Business Insider to fire him. It did so.

This led to the usual brow-furrowing blog posts about “free speech” and mass online outrage. One such post was written by Matthew Ingram, a senior writer at the influential technology blog GigaOm. The post has since been altered to remove the reference, but it originally said, “when does shaming become a lynch mob?” That is a question with a very simple answer: When the person being shamed is murdered by racist vigilantes. But Ingram was using the term “lynch mob” to mean “a person being the target of lots of outraged criticism.”

This was not even the first time Ingram had used that term in that ignorant and insensitive way!Here he is on Oct. 31, 2012, asking, “when does community action against an anonymous troll become a lynch mob?” (Same answer.) Here he is using it again in March of 2008.

Privileged white guys who feel persecuted use the lynch mob analogy all the time. In 2006, Richard Cohen, the columnist for and elaborate prank played on us by the Washington Post, wrote a column with the provocative headline “Digital lynch mob.” According to Cohen, he was the victim of said “digital lynch mob,” because he received a lot of mean emails. That was it.”

While Salon gave a brilliant explanation and argument against this privileged paranoia, I want to offer my take on it – from the perspective of a person of color in the U.S.

Attention white guys in high places, or rather white guys as a whole, NOW READ THIS! YOU ARE NOT IN DANGER OF BEING LYNCHED! I repeat, YOU ARE NOT IN DANGER OF BEING LYNCHED!

I know some of you will go on the defensive and highlight any and all examples of white males being physically attacked by non-whites, non males or what not, but those of you in your cushy offices making six to seven-figures a month are not in any danger from angry mobs.

AIG CEO Robert Benmosche
AIG CEO Robert Benmosche

To even think that it’s a possibly is a punch in the face of those who were, and are, at a much greater risk from getting lynched, namely blacks. I know you don’t want a brief lesson on reality, particularly from a black man as it is too painful for you to hear, but the truth is that someone like myself is most likely to get his black ass lynched, not presumably by a noose but by the so-called justice system.

You see, if I steal or rob, I’ll get caught by the police and end up in prison. If I don’t steal or rob, but someone with my skin color has and murdered someone, let’s say a white person or a white cop, in the process, there will be some crooked, stupid, lazy and stupid cops that will try to pin this on any black man, including me, if my description closely resembles the suspect. Then again, they could just find any black man, arrest him and send him to jail while the real suspect is loose.

Let’s say they pin me as the suspect. I could face a legal process not of my peers, but of yours. They will coerce a lot of people to act as witnesses railroading me into the system. I will very likely get slapped with the death penalty. I could get killed by the state even though I am innocent.

You think that’s absurd? Try telling that to the family of Troy Davis and the community who has to live through the possibility of being lynched for the last 400 years.

However, you guys can practically do anything you want, almost. You can screw up the nation’s economy for the sake of cashing in on a few million dollars to satisfy your avarice. You can even commit assault and battery on the world’s environment for the sake of exploiting its natural resources while getting insanely rich and powerful. As long as you have powerful lobbyists, soft, gullible politicians and you all share white skin, you got it made.

Sure, there will be criticism. There will be people angry that you have the nerve to do whatever you want without any regard of the people and places you’ve ran over to magnify your fortunes. They want to see you punished, but hey, that’s more of a wrong than plunging the world into economic, social, political and environmental disarray just so you can climb higher in the ladder of power, wealth and privilege, right?

None of you mofos will get lynched, because this nation will not allow it to happen. You all will be safe and protected, free to continue your privileged pillaging. No lynch mob with nooses, torches, bats and pitch folks will break into your office or lavish estate. You can go on living in a world where powerful, greedy, sociopathic, overprivileged white males roam and play and never has to take responsibility for a damn thing. Me, I’ll continue to survive and struggle in a world you largely helped create.