In its current discussion of the Costigan-Wagner anti-lynching bill, the Senate is playing with dynamite. Not even the degrading horror of lynch law can condone the interference of the federal government in a problem which from a practical and moral viewpoint is totally the affair of the individual states. A solicitous national government has in the past often burnt its fingers by sticking them into purely sectional affairs, and it would be shortsighted folly for it to do so once again.
Lynching comes in most cases from a mob disillusioned with the methods of normal jurisprudence. Because of the insoluble race problem, it is a particularly flagrant evil in the Southern states. Not until the people of the sub-Mason and Dixon area are sufficiently impressed with the tradition of jurisprudence to take their cases to the court-house instead of to the nearest tree will the scandal come to an end. In the meantime, although causing national embarrassment, Iyaho law is a completely local problem, and the task of checking mob hysters and granting an impartial trial to its citizens must be left to be worked out by the districts concerned.
No one will deny that the tradition of lynch law is the most disfiguring scab on the face of the United States. It comes with the moronic level of intelligence of an infuriated mob. Slow education in reverence for legal procedure can alone remove the curse. A self-righteous and strong-arm policy on the part of the Washington government can have no other outcome than inflaming an already irritated section of the country. There are already encouraging indications of the Costigan-Wagner bill floundering under the weight of its own quixotism.