The guest Gema Kloppe-Santamaría studied the history of lynching during the post-revolutionary period in Mexico. The main issues discussed in the podcast were the roots of lynching, the victims and perpetrators of lynching in Mexico, and the similarities and differences between lynching in the USA and Mexico. The main accent was set on the social aspects of the problem.
According to Kloppe-Santamaría, lynching reflected a wide range of factors. First, the problem was the reaction of local communities to the state reforms, such as secularization, anticlericalism, and agrarian modernization. Lynching was the way to express the attitude of the locals to the invasive imposition of opposing beliefs on the questions of education, health, religion, etc. The victims of lynching were socialists, communists, and government representatives that are new to the community. Hence, in that way, lynching signifies the hardships of the state formation in Mexico.
Second, lynching is also seen as the reaction movement of a community to preserve their values in the face of impending changes. Old traditions and religion legitimized the use of violence: victims often were accused of disregarding catholic values and unacceptable behavior. For example, the female victims were majorly blamed for witchcraft. In addition, the catholic mainstream barely could tolerate protestants and representatives of other religions.
Moreover, lynching is a means to shape state-society relations. There is the fact that the state actors such as judges, majors, and police officers often participated in the lynching organization. They seemed to share the same opinion with the public on which person could belong to the community and what conduct could be considered acceptable. The state actors’ tolerance and even encouragement of such violent acts against suspected criminals justified the use of lynching: the boundaries between legal and extralegal violence were blurred. So Kloppe-Santamaría points out that lynching is a specific form of social control. It is not always the element of the state’s absence or crisis.
Discussing the steps to solve the issue of lynching, I would keep in mind that history lesson from Mexico. First of all, if the reason for lynching is fast modernization, it is valuable to create an effective public awareness campaign. People cannot get rid of their previous opinions immediately, and they need more time to adopt new beliefs. It is crucial to attracting community leaders because their authority is valued inside the community. The resentment to changes could be prevented with their help. However, the traditional religion also should gain the state’s approval as an element of the history while the advantages of new perspectives could be presented to the people through the facts and numbers.
In addition, to avoid the cases of lynching, the actors of the state that can use violence legally should set strict and clear rules, follow them, and earn the community’s trust. When the regions where lynching could occur are identified, police officers should be the first to find the source of hostile rumors. To prevent the mobs from violent extralegal actions, police should be the first to take measures. For example, they should find the possible victims and define the scope of their guilty according to the existing laws. People of other beliefs or exceptional political views should be protected, while suspected criminals are subject to judicial investigation. The perpetrators should be punished as well as the state actors who tolerated or neglected the misconduct. Therefore, I believe that working in both sociological and political aspects will be the most effective approach to solving the issue of lynching.