While the impact of the death of George Floyd continues to be felt by communities around the world, for many of us it has become symbolic of the state of our society and where we are headed as a community. This article from America Magazine explores one writer’s thoughts.
The murder of George Floyd continues to resonate with extraordinary force. Many people, recognising that such a horror demands a powerful word, understandably call it a lynching. The long video shot by the courageous witness Daniella Frazier—the one with no interruption or added narration—shows us, however, that this was a thing beyond a lynching. It was a crucifixion.
It may well be that watching the video leaves some viewers with an unnamed sense that what they are witnessing is a crucifixion. But whether named or not, the act carries resonant force beyond measure—exactly as it was designed to do from the beginning.
Death by lynching and death by crucifixion are atrocities of the worst order. In terms of the awfulness of what is suffered by an individual human being, there is no material difference between them. In terms of what such killings say about the societies in which they are committed, however, there are differences that matter.
The parallels between particulars of the crucifixion most familiar to us, as reported in the New Testament, and that of George Floyd are haunting. It should be stressed at the outset that in 33 A.D., crucifixion was not reserved for those who claimed to be the Son of God or the King of the Jews or who posed other threats to the civil authority. It was the great show-no-mercy lesson to thieves, murderers and other criminals the authorities wanted to punish in the most degrading way possible.
Both Jesus and George Floyd were repeatedly mocked by their killers. Jesus cried out to his father, and George Floyd called for his mother. Shortly before he lost consciousness, he said: “I’m through. I’m through”—in other words, “It is finished.”
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Penn Rhodeen is the author of Peacerunner: The True Story of How an Ex-Congressman Helped End the Centuries of War in Ireland. He lives and writes in Brooklyn and practices law in Connecticut.
With thanks to America Magazine, where this article originally appeared.