Obama hanged in effigy at U. of Kentucky

This marks the second effigy of Barack Obama at a college campus in recent weeks; Sarah Palin, too, has been a target.

By Gabriel Winant
Published October 29, 2008 7:55PM (EDT)

Political effigies may seem like props better suited to a campaign in the 19th century than a 2008 one, but there's no avoiding it -- symbolic violence is back this year.

Last month, students at George Fox University in Oregon hanged an effigy of Barack Obama. Earlier this week, an effigy of Sarah Palin with a noose around its neck that was hung at a home in West Hollywood, Calif., attracted national attention.

Wednesday morning, another effigy of Obama was found. This one was hanging from a tree on the campus of the University of Kentucky. It has since been taken down.

While any such faux brutality is horrifying, it's hard to avoid particular alarm at a simulated lynching of a black man occurring below the Mason-Dixon line. While the earlier incidents were of course offensive and inappropriate, they don't carry quite the same painful freight this latest one does.

In an e-mail to the campus community, the university's president apologized to Obama and his family and said that investigators are currently engaged in determining whether any laws were broken.

Gabriel Winant

Gabriel Winant is a graduate student in American history at Yale.

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