As the popularity of Black Lives Matter soars to 62%, so does the lust for stamping out unpleasant chapters from U.S. history. What used to be known as “cancel culture” is rapidly morphing into “cancel fever.” If I didn’t know better, I might suspect there was some kind of insidious contest afoot to see who could topple the most statues of dead white men, regardless of their beliefs in life.
That would explain the defacing of the statue of one Matthias Baldwin, despite his having been an abolitionist and founder of a school for black children in Philadelphia, which he financed out of his own pocket.
It would also explain a report by ABC Virginia affiliate WSET noting that over 1,000 Virginians have signed a petition to rename the City of Lynchburg.
Like Baldwin, the article notes, John Lynch, the man the city was named after, was one of the good guys. He held slaves, like most Virginians in the late eighteenth century, but he freed them and championed the emancipation of all slaves.
But John Lynch’s real stain was an accident of his birth. His brother, Charles Lynch, “would tie British soldiers to a tree and beat them until they cried ‘Liberty!'” Over time the practice evolved into the hanging of blacks, though it continued to be known by the same name: lynching.
So what do residents of Lynchburg want to see their city called? LU’s own J.E. Dyer suggests some possibilities:
Well, Lynchburg is pretty inelegant, or so I've always thought.
Lynchville would be better. Lynchtown tolerable. (Not great.)
John Lynch would be an option.
Or go full-on 1990s made-up bank name and call it, say, LynchStar, or TransiLynch, etc. https://t.co/UUQAOgwiD7
— J.E. Dyer (@OptimisticCon) June 13, 2020
This is not the first time that an entity bearing the name Lynch has come under attack. In 2015, students at a small Pennsylvania college demanded that administrators rename a building called “Lynch Memorial Hall” because of the racial overtones of the word lynch. The building was named for a former president of the school, but students felt microaggressed by it.
This all transpired at a time when the Attorney General of the United States was named Loretta Lynch. To add insult to injury, she is black. Interesting no one demanded that she change her name.