That spring , news of the pogrom at Kishinev, where hundreds of Jews were killed and wounded, sparked protest meetings throughout the United States, including small Southern towns…. Sensitive to the possible parallel to racial violence in America, rabbis, newspaper editors, and other opinion leaders argued that Russian pogroms were worse than lynching in the United States (which was then causing the deaths of at least a hundred African Americans annually).
Condemnations of the pogrom served to deflect concern about American racial problems. One striking reflection of this dynamic appeared in The Outlook, where George Kennan indicted the Russian government for failing to suppress anti-Semitic agitation and denied that pogroms were analogous to lynchings. At the same time, editor Lyman Abbott culminated a year-long campaign against reconstructing the South by endorsing segregation, condoning disenfranchisement, and insisting that the South was “not missionary ground.” Amid heated denunciations of his repudiation of the abolitionist legacy, Abbott (one of the founders of the Friends of Russian Freedom) hailed American protests against the Kishinev pogrom as evidence that American sympathy for the oppressed everywhere was unimpaired – a view shared by former President Grover Cleveland and other speakers at mass meetings.
— David S. Foglesong, The American Mission and the Evil Empire (2007), 28.