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American Lynching$
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Ashraf H. A. Rushdy

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780300181388

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300181388.001.0001

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The Discourse of Lynching

The Discourse of Lynching

(p.94) 4 The Discourse of Lynching
American Lynching

Ashraf H. A. Rushdy

Yale University Press

This chapter explains the discourse of lynching, that is, the cultural narrative about lynching which emerged in the last two decades of the nineteenth century and became hegemonic thereafter. Lynching has a discourse, a changing set of myths, narratives, and imagery that allows lynchers and their advocates to claim the high ground of justice, chivalry, and morality. The rudimentary rhetorical elements that would coalesce into the lynching for rape discourse were largely in place by the eve of the Civil War. It was the peculiar power of the lynching for rape discourse to demand of its critics that they first challenge their imputed role before they could challenge lynching as a practice. The lynching for rape discourse provided a fine campaign strategy because it allowed the candidates to align themselves with a principle more important than the constitution they eventually had to swear to uphold.

Keywords:   discourse of lynching, rape discourse, campaign strategy, constitution, cultural narrative

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