VA Gov Ralph Northam Can Get The F*KKK OUT
Seriously, we talked about assholes in blackface just last week. We have to do it again? That's how you want to kick off Black History Month? Fine, then let's jump right to the point, shall we? Virginia Governor Ralph Northam needs to resign immediately. He admitted Friday to having appeared in a racist photo from his 1984 medical school yearbook that shows a man in blackface and another in a Ku Klux Klan robe.
Northam issued a half-assed apology yesterday. He was wearing neither blackface nor a KKK robe at the time, but the statement still came up lacking. The only thing that could've helped was if Northam had provided us with conclusive medical evidence that we'd all collectively tripped acid and hallucinated the photo.
My fellow Virginians, earlier today I released a statement apologizing for behavior in my past that falls far short… https://t.co/1D7fFtLxjd— Ralph Northam (@Ralph Northam)1549071353.0
Instead, all he did was confirm that the photo is a material object that captures an actual horrible moment in time. Worse, it was one of three photos Northam selected to represent the academic year: “Let's see, I want to show off my cool ride and my contempt for black people and utter disregard for their humanity. That's how I want folks to remember me." Even Anthony Weiner avoided using photos of his junk in his yearbook spread.
We'd love for at least one apology for a "youthful discretion" to acknowledge that we are all the sum of our actions, even the gross racist ones. True redemption often requires genuine sacrifice, not a pity tour where those you've offended have to absolve you like we're priests specializing in blackface sins.
Northam is not yet 60 and the photo is from 1984. His blackface costume is not even a misguided riff on superstars Prince or Michael Jackson. He's dressed in the full Mr. Bojangles. This was pre-Google so he had to do some research
Maybe Northam's political career could survive. Prince Harry went to a party dressed like a Nazi and now is married to Meghan Markle. But Northam's yearbook indiscretions only get worse.
To add to the shock, a page from Northam's yearbook at the Virginia Military Institute listed one of his nicknames… https://t.co/d6NGxKcRpP— Kathryn Watson (@Kathryn Watson)1549065337.0
Thank you, Ms. Watson, for clarifying that "Coonman" is in fact a racial slur and not a misguided Soundgarden parody from Weird Al Yankovich. The sad shit is that black people got Northam elected in 2017. According to exit polls, he won 87 percent of black voters, who were 20 percent of the electorate. Northam only won 42 percent of white voters, even fewer if you exclude voters in blackface.
Our options weren't that great anyway. Governor Coonman's opponent, Ed Gillespie, was a bigoted Trump-train-chasing opportunist who wanted to put a Confederate monument on every corner, like a Starbucks where the coffee and cream never mixed. Unfortunately, it turns out both gubernatorial candidates were basically Kang and Kodos.
From now on, before we consider voting for any white candidate, we're asking them directly if they've ever worn blackface, do they plan at some point to wear blackface, and, if necessary, why are they currently wearing blackface.
As of late Friday night, every Democrat who ever wanted to win an election again had abandoned Northam. It was a stunning fall from the heady days of November 2017.
Congratulations to @RalphNortham and his team for showing that Virginia won’t stand for hatred and bigotry. https://t.co/ptKySwzmMC— Kamala Harris (@Kamala Harris)1510103855.0
See, Northam, you've gone and made Kamala Harris look foolish. Don't make a black woman look foolish at her place of business. It won't go well for you.
Leaders are called to a higher standard, and the stain of racism should have no place in the halls of government. T… https://t.co/Gp8YyJRYM6— Kamala Harris (@Kamala Harris)1549067864.0
Harris doesn't even say Northam's name when she straight-up dismisses him. He went from ending racism to being racist skid marks that need extra-strength bleach to remove. Looks like everyone agrees Northam needs to step down.
Did abortion advocates drop the Northam oppo to avoid having politicians forced to defend Northam’s infanticide comment?— Erick Erickson (@Erick Erickson)1549069532.0
Oh, right, Republicans will never agree with Democrats about anything. Literally yesterday, they were accusing Northam of promoting infanticide. They should be glad he's about to lose his job, but no that's not good enough for morons like Tucker Carlson. He wants Northam gone because of the imaginary infanticide. Nothing less will satisfy him. He's like a libertarian prohibition supporter defending Al Capone: "Sure, he's a bootlegging gangster, but taxation is theft!"
This also answers the question raised Friday about why Gillespie's opposition team failed to find and weaponize the BlacKkKlansman photo. Using it against Northam in the general election would mean Republicans would have to suggest a white person doing something racist is a disqualifying action, and that's far too namby-pamby PC for their tastes. The Federalist gave a master class in missing the point with its defense of Northam.
In 1984, one of the most popular television shows in America featured a race car with a confederate battle flag on its roof. Just eight years earlier, when Northam was 16, Gene Wilder performed in blackface in the movie "Silver Streak." In the early 1990s, actor Hugh Laurie appeared in traditional blackface in an episode of "Jeeves and Wooster." None of this is to excuse Northam's actions, but rather to put them in relevant context.
The relevant context here is stupid. Anthony Hopkins played charming cannibal Hannibal Lecter on screen, but if it's revealed that Cory Booker ate someone in real fricking life, we will withdraw our support. Northam didn't play the lead in his med school drama club's production of Othello. There are no klansmen in that play.
This morning, Northam “remembered" that maybe he's not in the racist photo, which insults our intelligence and makes us very angry. He's reportedly calling up classmates to see if they know the true identity of the klansman and Mr. Bones. Who wants to take that call on the weekend? This is absurd because who includes photos of random racist assholes on their yearbook page? It's also still disqualifying that Northam willingly socialized with racists. At least Michael Ertel in Florida had the sense to resign as soon as his photo was released. He didn't drag this out.
Virginia's lieutenant governor is Justin Fairfax, who is young, black, and fearless enough to sit out a Robert E. Lee tribute. He should be governor right now.
NEWS: Northam is calling Va Dems and telling them that’s *not* him in the yearbook photo and he will make a stateme… https://t.co/UNXbMmeB4F— Jonathan Martin (@Jonathan Martin)1549121670.0
Many of Northam's gay classmates wouldn't have dared submit a photo for public display that showed them with their significant other. Yet Northam felt he could print a racist photo in his medical yearbook and face no negative consequences in his life. He didn't believe in a future where black people had power and white people any shame. Today, we can prove him wrong. It's time for him to go.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."