Two weeks ago Ibraheem Samirah, a second-generation Palestinian running for an open seat in the 86th district of the House of Delegates, joined other Democrats in calling for the resignation of Governor Ralph Northam for appearing in black face in 1984. Now, it turns out, Samirah has to answer for some intemperate remarks he made five years ago about Jews.
Samirah has kinda-sorta apologized for saying on Facebook that sending money to Israel is “worse” than sending money to the Ku Klux Klan, that Israeli teenagers used Tinder to “cover up the murders in their name,” and that former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon would burn in hell — assuming that calling the charges against him a “slander campaign” constitutes an apology. Continue reading →
A group calling itself Virginia Black Politicos rallied near the Governor’s Mansion yesterday and called for the resignation of Governor Ralph Northam. Prominent among the speakers was Charlottesville City Council member Wes Bellamy, who, according to WVIR TV, said it was time for the governor to step down so that Virginians can heal.
“What will we tell them that we did in regard to stand up for white supremacy?” Bellamy said. “What will we tell them and their colleagues and their pupils in school that we did in the year 2019 when our governor decided to make fun of our people.”
This is the same Wes Bellamy who was called out in 2016 for making racist comments of his own. As the Washington Post summarized the controversy back then, the then-30-year-old stepped down from a position on the Virginia Board of Education when it was revealed that in 2011 he had tweeted gay slurs, made light of sexual assault, and made anti-white comments. Continue reading →
I’ve been somewhat sympathetic to Governor Ralph Northam during his blackface ordeal, arguing (a) that we should not reach a judgment until all the facts were in, and (b) that we should not judge a man solely upon the basis of an act committed 35 years ago but upon his lifetime’s work.
Well, all the facts are in (at least a lot more of the facts than we knew when Northam issued his first mea culpa), and we can say with confidence a couple of things we could not when the blackface fracas began: While it may be true that neither the man in blackface nor the KKK hood in the infamous yearbook photo was Northam, the governor has yet to offer a plausible explanation of how he came to submit that particular photo for publication. The protocol was for Eastern Virginia Medical School students to select their own photos, put them in sealed envelopes and submit them to the publication. Unless someone working for the publication surreptitiously inserted the notorious photo — a claim that no one is making — Northam was the one who selected it. Thus, one can legitimately press the point: Why did he choose that photo? Even if he was not wearing the blackface or KKK hood, it appears that he had no problem publicly associating himself with the people who did. His dissimulation on the subject is as almost as troubling as the offense itself.
Now Northam is embarking upon an apology tour, starting with an appearance next week at Virginia Union University in Richmond. Continue reading →
It’s unsavory for a politician to try to buy forgiveness from those he has offended with taxpayer dollars. But that is what Virginia Governor Ralph Northam is doing. In an interview with the Washington Post, he announced plans to spend more money on government programs like “affordable housing” in the name of racial “equity” and fighting “white privilege.”
How this would actually benefit black people is unclear. Many wasteful and destructive programs exist in the name of “affordable housing.” Cities like Detroit have blighted and decaying public housing projects that consumed taxpayer money only to end up producing concentrated crime and poverty. One national “affordable housing” program produced 50 rapidly decaying slums, according to the Los Angeles Times.
As Jazz Shaw notes, Northam’s aides are also “saying that he will be focused on things like new legislation to enforce diversity and equality along with pushing through new funding for Virginia’s five historically black colleges and universities.”
Every day gets crazier here in Virginia. The politics of symbolism have taken over, and real problems requiring careful analysis and sustained attention go neglected.
For an example of a festering problem with real-world consequences for African-Americans, read the previous post by Richard Hall-Sizemore. An electronic health records system would improve the quality of medical care of Virginia’s prison inmate population, which is disproportionately African-American, but the Commonwealth of Virginia has struggled for years to fund one. The obstacle has not been lack of money but the inability to sort out competing bureaucratic agendas. Meanwhile, Virginians are treated to stories like this…
Governor Ralph Northam, we read on the front page of the Richmond Times-Dispatch this morning, committed the cardinal sin of referring to the first Africans setting foot on Virginia soil as “indentured servants.” They were sold by Dutch slavers, but Virginia law had not yet codified slavery, so, technically, slavery did not exist. As PBS summarized the status of these Africans: “With no slave laws in place, they were initially treated as indentured servants, and given the same opportunities for freedom dues as whites.” Continue reading →
Wow, that was fast. One day Justin Fairfax was measuring the drapes for the Governor’s Mansion, now the grandees of the Virginia Democratic Party say he should step down as Lieutenant Governor. The sexual-assault charges against him are serious and his accusers deserve to be heard. But can we give it just a little bit of time before assuming his guilt and tossing him into the trash heap of history?
Fairfax, according to the Washington Post, is asking for an “appropriate and impartial” investigation into the accusations against him by Meredith Watson and Vanessa Tyson. “I am asking,” he said, “that no one rush to judgment and I am asking for there to be space in this moment for due process.”
Is that really too much to ask? It astonishes me that so many people believe that there mere existence of accusations is sufficient to remove Fairfax from office. Continue reading →
A very bad week. One can only assume that Virginia’s Democratic Party is very happy to see this week draw to a close. The Democratic Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General are facing deep scrutiny over revelations that came to light this week. While the specifics of each scandal remain hazy the sudden evaporation of moral outrage from fellow Democrats is crystal clear.
Northam: the expendable man. Govenor Ralph Northam was the first to fall under a thick cloud of disrepute as pictures from his personal page in his med school yearbook surfaced with people dressed in blackface and Klan outfits. Democrats moved quickly to condemn Northam and call for his resignation. Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner were joined by the Virginia Black Caucus, former Governor McAuliffe, national Democrats and (most interestingly) Attorney General Mark Herring in calling for Northam’s resignation. Appearing in blackface is intolerable they all wailed in unison. Blue Virginia touted the calls for Northam’s resignation as proof of the ” … VAST moral difference between Virginia Democrats and Republicans …” Continue reading →
Al Sharpton at Virginia Union University. Photo credit: Richmond Times-Dispatch
It can’t possibly get any crazier in Virginia. It just can’t. No satirist could dream up what now passes for news. On the front page of the Richmond Times-Dispatch today we see an extraordinary juxtaposition of stories:
Sen. Majority Leader Tommy Norment, R-James City, was an editor of a 1968 Virginia Military Institute yearbook that featured “at least one” image of people in blackface as well as some racially offensive language. The T-D and the Virginian-Pilot, which broke the story yesterday, informed readers in breath-taking prose what they couldn’t possibly have imagined: that many Virginians were, by today’s standards, racist 50 years ago.
Speaking at Virginia Union University, the Reverend Al Sharpton said there was no forgiveness for Governor Ralph Northam’s use of blackface in 1984 or Attorney General Mark Herring’s a few years before that. “If you sin, you must pay for the sin,” Sharpton said. “Blackface represents a deeper problem where people felt they could dehumanize and humiliate people based on their inferiority.”
State of affairs / affairs of state. Multiple scandals have rocked Virginia’s state government this week. All three of our state’s top officials stand accused of substantial wrongdoing. Governor Ralph Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring have admitted to dressing in blackface during their college / medical school days. Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax is being accused of sexual assault. The stories have become national news – read the New York Post article here. Given this chaos one wonders how the good people at Amazon feel about their decision to put one-half of their new headquarters in The Commonwealth of Virginia. I’m guessing we’ll hear more about that in the near future. In the meantime, Virginians need to ask two key questions – how did we get here and what can we do about it. Continue reading →
I’m guessing that some media outlet must have been hot on Attorney General Mark Herring’s trail, otherwise I can’t imagine any other reason for him to make this confession in a statement just released:
In 1980, when I was a 19-year-old undergraduate in college, some friends suggested we attend a party dressed like rappers we listened to at the time, like Kurtis Blow, and perform a song. It sounds ridiculous even now writing it. But because of our ignorance and glib attitudes – and because we did not have an appreciation for the experiences and perspectives of others – we dressed up and put on wigs and brown makeup.
This was a onetime occurrence and I accept full responsibility for my conduct. That conduct clearly shows that, as a young man, I had a callous and inexcusable lack of awareness and insensitivity to the pain my behavior could inflict on others. It was really a minimization of both people of color, and a minimization of a horrific history I knew well even then.
Poor University of Virginia. The College of William & Mary hogged the glory among progressives when Katharine Rowe, W&M’s new president, gratuitously inserted herself into the Ralph Northam blackface controversy by uninviting the governor from attending the annual celebration of the university’s 1683 founding.
Responding to news of the racist image in Northam’s 1984 Eastern Virginia Medical School yearbook, Rowe announced four days ago, “That behavior has no place in civil society – not 35 years ago, not today. It stands in stark opposition to William & Mary’s core values of equity and inclusion.”
How, oh, how could UVa signal its virtue as well? UVa’s newly installed president, James Ryan, had no event from which to retract a gubernatorial invitation. I have an idea on how UVa could make a useful contribution to the controversy, which I’ll get to in a moment. But Ryan opted for expressing his politically correctness in an open letter to the Board of Visitors and the university community: Continue reading →
Virginia Democrats were on a roll politically until a story broke Friday that a photograph on Gov. Ralph Northam’s (D) 1984 medical school yearbook page showed a man in blackface and a man in Ku Klux Klan garb.
Democrats had seemed to be in a good position to win control of both the state Senate and the House of Delegates in this November’s General Assembly elections.
A strong anti-Trump spirit showed up in last year’s congressional elections in which three moderate Democratic women won. A court recently ruled that the latest Republican-led redistricting disenfranchised African Americans. Demographic changes seem to be making make the state less conservative. Continue reading →
This angle on the Northam blackface story is at least two days old — it appeared Sunday in Zerohedge — but it has yet to be reflected in any of the reporting I have seen on the controversy by Virginia mainstream media, so I summarize the details here. (I’m just back from traveling out of town, so I may have overlooked some reporting. If so, my apologies.)
Some resourceful Internet sleuth — I’m not sure if it’s Zerohedge blogger Tyler Durden or someone else — noticed the remarkable resemblance between a pair of plaid pants worn by Blackface Guy in the infamous 1984 yearbook photograph that threatens to take down Governor Ralph Northam and a pair of pants worn by an unidentified blond guy standing in front of a car below the title “Hi-Y,” the name of a YMCA high school program. A caption below the Hi-Y photo indicated that Northam was the group’s president.
The plaid-pants connection raises the interesting possibility that Blond Guy and Blackface Dude are one in the same, which would rule out the theory that Northam was the man in blackface — supporting his strained, widely mocked contention that he was not in the photo. Continue reading →
As Donald Rumsfeld famously said of the Iraq War, there are known unknowns and unknown unknowns — things we know we don’t know, and things we don’t have a clue we don’t know. The same thing could be said of Governor Ralph Northam’s now-infamous medical school yearbook photo of a young man in black face and another in KKK attire — either one of whom, or neither, may be Northam himself.
Northam told the nation in a press conference that he believes he was not in the photo, and he doesn’t know how the photo came to appear on his personal page in the yearbook. No one appears to be paying much attention to his denial, which conflicted with an earlier apology and was undercut by his own admission in the press conference that he had appeared in black face during a Michael Jackson dance contest — in other words, that he’d dressed in black face, just not in the particular photo in question.
Democrats made up their minds about Northam’s irredeemable guilt even before the press conference. Almost every conceivable Democrat-affiliated group from the Democratic National Committee to the Virginia League of Democratic Dogcatchers has demanded his resignation. Republicans, only too happy to kneecap a Democratic governor, have called for the same.
Here’s what’s extraordinary about the episode: No one seems terribly interested in finding out if Northam’s version of events holds water. With minds already made up and political commitments made, no one is thinking about what we know, what we don’t, and what entirely unexpected evidence might be lurking out there. In another moment in our political history, people might say, “Yeah, this sure looks bad, but Northam says he’s innocent, so let’s sort through the facts.” What we hear now is, “Facts? We don’t need no more stinking facts. We’ve got all the facts we need.” Continue reading →
Seems like yesterday. In late 2012 Terry McAuliffe was the only Democrat running for Virginia governor in the upcoming 2013 election. One of his central campaign themes was that he was an entrepreneur who would bring jobs to Virginia. He was also an investor and recently resigned Chairman of a venture called GreenTech, a would be manufacturing company that hoped to make energy efficient electric cars in the United States. Prior to announcing his second campaign for governor Terry had been out trolling for government subsidies in return for bringing GreenTech’s manufacturing plant to some lucky American community. During McAuliffe’s tenure as chairman, GreenTech had announced that it would locate in Tunica, Mississippi rather than Virginia. Candidate McAuliffe was asked why he didn’t bring GreenTech to Virginia at a Dec 5, 2012 press conference. He claimed that Virginia “decided not to bid” on the automobile plant. The truth was more complicated resulting in a Politifact article citing McAuliffe’s claim as “false”. It seemed that Virginia lost out on at least 1,500 GreenTech manufacturing jobs. The relatively small flurry of controversy over GreenTech subsided, McAuliffe became governor and Mississippi gained thousands of jobs. Or did they …
Virginia smells a rat. The Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) did hold conversations with GreenTech about locating in Virginia during 2009. GreenTech was scheduled to tour potential plant sites in Danville, Martinsville and Waverly on Oct 7th and 8th. But then came GreenTech’s surprise announcement to locate in Mississippi on Oct 6. Was the VEDP just a day late and a dollar short? Not quite. Virginia officials were not at all convinced of the overall GreenTech business model. In a letter from the executive director of VEDP to Virginia’s Secretary of Commerce and Labor those concerns were spelled out.
Mississippi buys a rat. Apparently, Mississippi saw no problems with a start-up car company building $15,500 to $18,000 electric mini-cars with a top speed of 45 mph for export to China. Mississippi inked the deal and GreenTech opened a temporary location in Horn Lake, MS in July, 2012. Bill Clinton and the governor of Mississippi joined Terry McAuliffe for an opening celebration at the site. The good people of Tunica County (where 33% live below the poverty line) were well on their way to an economic miracle. Or were they …
Peter the Great Pretty Good. As GreenTech started to unravel ahead of the 2013 election erstwhile Bacon’s Rebellion columnist Peter Galuszka wrote an opinion piece declaring that Green Tech was a mess but not a scandal. At the time Galuszka wrote that opinion piece GreenTech was still in business and employed about 80 people. That would roughly mark the zenith of GreenTech’s operations. Now that the company is dust in the wind lawsuits have been filed. As Mr. McAuliffe is rumored to be considering a run for president GreenTech may yet graduate from mess to scandal. It would be interesting to know how Terry McAuliffe fared from a personal financial perspective with GreenTech. If he lost his own money maybe GreenTech is still just a mess. However, if he made money on the failed deal it would be a scandal.
Caveat Virginia. While VEDP’s BS detector seemed to work brilliantly in the GreenTech matter … that’s not always the case. Bacon’s Rebellion readers should keep an eye out for an upcoming update to the Tranlin deal in Virginia. It seems likely that the Tranlin deal is not going to end well for the Commonwealth.
We welcome a broad spectrum of views. If you would like to submit an op-ed for publication in Bacon’s Rebellion, contact editor/publisher Jim Bacon at jabacon[at]baconsrebellion.com (substituting “@” for “at”).
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