In the News: Week of February 16th

What happened in the world from February 16th - 22nd

Happy Sunday morning everyone! I hope you all had a great week.

In the news this week

The last Democratic debate before the Nevada caucuses was held in Las Vegas on Wednesday night. Michael Bloomberg had an awful night and was getting dumped on by every candidate from the moment the debate started. Elizabeth Warren arguably had the best night of any candidate on stage, largely because she wasn’t the target of any attacks and her attacks against Bloomberg were very effective. Here’s my personal favorite Warren burn: “I’d like to tell you about who we’re running against: a billionaire who calls women ‘fat broads’ and ‘horse-faced lesbians.’ And no, I’m not talking about Donald Trump. I’m talking about Mayor Bloomberg.”

The other somewhat surprising rivalry of the night was between Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar. They are largely swimming in each other’s wake, so the attacks make sense, but until now they’ve avoided conflict. Klobuchar recently was unable to name the president of Mexico in an interview with Telemundo, which she claims was just “momentary forgetfulness.” Pete took the opportunity presented to him and went on the offensive, and then Klobuchar accused Pete of saying that she was dumb and mocking her.

Sanders took some heat in the debate, which any front-runner is going to face, but luckily for him most of the fire was directed at Bloomberg. Sanders was criticized briefly regarding transparency around his medical records and online “Bernie Bros.” His answer to questions about some of his online supporters was very interesting. He implied that Russia may be behind some of the attacks against other candidates rather than actual supporters of his campaign. It came out after the debate that Sanders was briefed by U.S. officials that Russia is trying to help his presidential campaign. Sanders made it clear in a statement he wanted nothing to do with Russia, and warned Putin to “stay out of American elections.”

Bernie Sanders won the Nevada caucus by a wide margin Saturday. Nevada is the first state to vote with any semblance of diversity. The RCP Nevada polling average showed Bernie Sanders with a large lead right before the caucuses, getting 33% of support, with Buttigieg and Biden at 16% and Elizabeth Warren at 14%. As of Saturday night, with 23% of the vote in, Bernie Sanders had 47% of county delegates, Biden was at 23%, Buttigieg at 13%, and Warren was at 9%.

Bernie Sanders has won the popular vote in each of the first three states to vote, Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada. He is undoubtedly the front-runner now and looks poised to build an insurmountable lead if he does well on Super Tuesday. The next race is Saturday in South Carolina, which is followed by Super Tuesday a few days later.

Julian Assange claims he was offered a deal for a Trump pardon, and former Republican representative Dana Rohrabacher confirmed that he told Assange he would get him a Trump pardon deal. Assange is currently fighting extradition to the United States, and this claim is part of a broader argument that he is being politically targeted, which is one of the ways to beat extradition. The White House denied it had anything to do with offering Assange a presidential pardon, and also distanced itself from former representative Rohrabacher. It’s difficult to know who to believe in Assange’s extradition case, and it could be years before it’s resolved.

Roger Stone, friend and advisor to Trump, was sentenced to 40 months in prison on Thursday. He was convicted of seven felonies in November, including lying under oath and threatening a witness. Trump is being accused of interfering in the sentencing of Stone after he made public complaints about the prosecutors’ recommendation and Attorney General William Barr overruled a sentencing recommendation by four prosecutors. Roger Stone got a relatively light sentence, as prosecutors requested a sentence of seven to nine years and he only got a little over three years.

Headline of the Week: Mark Zuckerberg Reportedly Had Facebook Employee Blow Dry His Sweaty Armpits Before Events

Sweaty armpits can be embarrassing. I know because I once wrote an essay about hyperhidrosis in a misguided attempt to win a college scholarship. I didn’t get the scholarship, and I don’t suffer from hyperhidrosis, but I spent hours of my life imagining what it would be like to have uncontrollably sweaty pits 24/7. It’s not fun, and I don’t blame Zuckerberg for trying to take care of the problem in what I can only assume is the only way he knows how. Even though Zuckerberg is a multi-billionaire, it seems a little strange to me that he would pay someone to blow dry his pits. That just seems like a job you would want to do yourself.

Recommended Reading: Confronting the past: A young man tries to understand the lynching of his great-grandfather

For decades, his family avoided returning to the state of Georgia. His great-grandfather was brutally murdered by white supremacists in 1936. Evan Lewis wanted to go back and see if he could find out more about what happened to his great-grandfather, Lent Shaw, in Colbert, Georgia.

Lent Shaw’s story is similar to the accusations against many black men at the time. He was accused of attacking a young white woman, an unforgivable sin in the Deep South. The angry white mob from Madison County didn’t much care whether or not the allegations were true, and they didn’t wait to find out. Shaw was a successful black farmer, a rarity in rural Georgia, and was likely targeted due to his success and skin color.

After he was accused of attacking the white woman, he was arrested and held in the Madison County Jail in Danielsville, Georgia. A mob of around 150 people surrounded the jail (the New York Times said he had not been in jail long when the mob showed up) trying to break in and harm or murder Shaw. The local sheriff and judge tried to break up the mob but they were unsuccessful. Although the sheriff at the time admitted to recognizing members of the mob, no charges were ever filed against anyone. The National Guard was eventually called in to escort Shaw out of Danielsville, and he was then transferred to Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta due to injuries he sustained while being transported to the Madison County Jail. Police officers had shot him three times on his way to the jail.

After healing up in Atlanta, Shaw was sent back to the Madison County Jail only to be met by another angry mob. The sheriff, recognizing that Shaw wouldn’t last much longer in Danielsville, transferred him to a small jail in Royston. The angry mob found out where Shaw was being held, and they took him from Royston back to Colbert where he was lynched and shot, over and over again. He was murdered eight hours before his trial. 

After a short one-day investigation, Shaw’s case was closed. Court documents say that “there were no witnesses found.” His killers got away without so much as a slap on the wrist. His murderers, a group of at least 17 white supremacists, posed with Shaw’s bullet-riddled body hanging from the tree he was lynched on in a photograph that you can view in the linked article. (Obvious warning: it is very graphic content.)

Lent Shaw was murdered before he could stand trial for a crime he almost surely did not commit. He was denied justice by a group of vigilante white supremacists, and coincidentally those white supremacists were never brought to justice either. The ancestors of Lent Shaw live in a different part of the country, scared to death of returning to the state where one of their family members was brutally murdered.

The ancestors of the white supremacists that murdered Lent Shaw still live in Madison County, for the most part, completely ignorant of the crimes committed by their parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. The young white woman who accused Shaw of attacking her never told her descendants about the incident, and no one in the family had any knowledge about the event.

The last names of the white supremacists are last names I recognize. Some of the cold faces in that haunting photograph of Lent Shaw hanging from a tree look similar to the faces of some of my classmates from Madison County High School. Those that murdered Lent Shaw are only separated by a generation or two from people I went to school and church with.

For a white person, it can be easy to forget how real racism is, and how we aren’t far removed at all from an era of lynchings, murders, and slavery. It’s not easy to forget for the descendants of Lent Shaw. They were always taught to never go back to Georgia, and, until Evan Lewis visited in 2015, none of them had.

The case of Lent Shaw is not an isolated case. There are thousands of stories just like his, and if you look hard enough you can probably find a similar story from your own hometown (assuming you live in the south). These stories shouldn’t be forgotten. Lent Shaw’s story has been swept under the rug for decades, and thousands of others like his. 

We need to do a much better job recognizing and remembering the injustices of the past and honoring those who suffered. I think we should start taking down monuments of white supremacists and start building monuments for victims of white supremacy, especially those who were unjustly murdered. Families like Lent Shaw’s will never truly receive justice, but making an effort to honor his memory is much better than erasing it.

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