U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham told reporters today that President Donald Trump is a victim of lynching, a common method of racial terror used to kill more than 4,000 black people in America and preserve white supremacist policies through violence and intimidation, particularly in the South.

In a tweet early Tuesday, President Donald Trump called efforts to look into possible impeachable activities by his administration “a lynching.” The supplicant Graham angrily told reporters that he agreed with Trump’s specific characterization down to the word.

In Graham’s home state of South Carolina, at least 185 lynchings were reported 1877-1950, according to a 2017 study by the Equal Justice Initiative.

[embed-1] Of course, as a rich and powerful white man, Trump is not the victim of racial terror in any sense. (And despite Graham’s defense being just wrong, it’s also not surprising.) But the president’s use of “lynching” further complicates a term that is loaded with multiple meanings, but that all revolve around the violent, long-term subjugation of black people in America by white people.

“Avoiding honest conversation about this history has undermined our ability to build a nation where racial justice can be achieved,” the EJI report noted.

The most recent lynching in the state originated in Pickens County in 1947 with the violent killing of Willie Earle, a black man arrested and accused of killing a Greenville taxi cab driver. William Gravely, the author of a paper and book on the subject, documented the lynching by a “vigilante mob” who pulled Earle out of a Pickens County jail, and killed Earle with a shotgun.

“Outside West Greenville they interrogated, stabbed, and beat him and finally shot him twice, blowing away most of his face,” Gravely wrote.

Despite 37 signed confessions, no men were initially charged in Earle’s death. And when a state grand jury did issue an indictment, a nine day trial ended in dropped charges and acquittals by the all-white, all-male jury.

Lindsey Graham was born in the Pickens County town of Central, S.C. eight years later.

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