Fairfax Dons Mantle of Victimhood. It Does Not Fit.

Justin Fairfax and the media

About a month ago Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax came under a barrage of criticism after being accused of sexual assault by two seemingly credible women. Elected Democratic officials across Virginia called for his immediate resignation. He said, wait just a minute, let’s not rush to judgment. Give me a “full, fair, independent, impartial, and non-political investigation by law enforcement.”

Because the alleged crimes took place outside Virginia, they don’t fall under the jurisdiction of Virginia law enforcement authorities. Thus, an investigation by Virginia law-enforcement authorities, which Fairfax called for, isn’t in the cards. Because Fairfax has been charged with no crime, the only practical venue for him to clear his name in the court of public opinion is to allow the accusers to tell their story and for him to offer a defense in a public hearing organized by the General Assembly.

Now Fairfax is equating the GOP’s proposal for legislative hearings with Jim Crow-era lynchings. Speaking on the Senate floor yesterday, according to the Virginia Mercury, he said:

“If we go backwards to rush to judgment, and we allow for political lynchings without any due process, any facts, any evidence being heard, then I think we do a disservice to this very body in which we all serve,” he told lawmakers in his first remarks on the issue from the floor.

“I’ve heard much about anti-lynching on the floor of this very Senate, where people were not given any due process whatsoever. And we knew that. And we talk about hundreds, at least 100 terror lynchings that have happened in the Commonwealth of Virginia under those very same auspices. And yet, we stand here in a rush to judgment with nothing but accusations and no facts. And we decide that we are willing to do the same thing.”

Summarizing: When fellow Democrats called for his immediate resignation simply on the grounds that two women had alleged rape, Fairfax called for an investigation. Now that Republicans propose to provide a venue where he can present evidence that might clear his name, he deems himself the victim of modern-day “terror lynching.”

Fairfax, it appears, is invoking the horror of lynchings to mobilize the sympathy of African-Americans and Democratic legislators.

African-Americans built up a lot of moral capital from the travails of slavery, Jim Crow and the Civil Rights movement. Fairfax’s attempt to draw upon that moral capital for his personal political survival is itself a moral abomination. His predicament in no way resembles that of Jim Crow-era lynching victims, in which mobs bypassed the rule of law and then tortured and killed those they presumed guilty. In Fairfax’s case, Republicans aren’t bypassing any laws and procedures because no existing laws and procedures apply to the peculiar situation at hand — and they’re certainly offering more due process than Fairfax’s fellow Democrats had been willing to when they demanded his resignation.

Fortunately, Fairfax’s appeal did not solicit a sympathetic . Reports the Virginia Mercury“The speech was met with silence on the floor and Democratic lawmakers declined to comment as they left the chamber.”

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12 responses to “Fairfax Dons Mantle of Victimhood. It Does Not Fit.

  1. Napoleon’s famous battle rule about not interfering with an opponent who is screwing up applies. When the smoke clears, though, I really want to know who Fairfax and Northam have been listening to….or not listening to. The textbooks will have a host of new case studies.

    ICYM, on the question of impeachment:
    https://www.richmond.com/opinion/their-opinion/guest-columnists/anthony-f-troy-column-impeachment-yes-or-no-the-answer/article_94f990ca-604a-5133-a9de-1524216adc47.html

    Thanks, Tony – I learned something.

  2. Just curious. Were there any calls for a General Assembly hearings when Bob McDonnell, a Republican, was being accused of crimes in office?

    No? Can someone explain to me why not?

    • Well, first recall he was leaving office as it all blew up. Second, there is a long standing legislative reluctance to step in when the criminal justice system is engaged, as so far it is not with Fairfax. That could have been an impeachment situation, but he was already out of office. I suspect if things were moving forward in Boston or Raleigh, the legislature would quickly stand back to wait.

    • Anyone can be accused of a crime. That doesn’t mean he (or she) is guilty and deserves to be run out of office.

      That’s why I didn’t agree with demanding McDonnell’s resignation then. And I don’t agree with demanding Fairfax’s resignation now. Both, however, do deserve to be tried in the court of public opinion.

  3. Jim,
    I go further than you. I believe he does not deserve to and should not be tried in the court of public opinion. That’s mob justice. And as we have seen repeatedly on a national or state level, legislatures are not the place to have any kind of trial. Hearings seem less and less intended for determining facts and more and more for grandstanding and virtue-signalling if they were ever for anything else.

    Until he is indicted, such public accusations should be considered libel and irrelevant to continued employment whether in public or private enterprise, Republican or Democrat.

    Having said that, I think his oratorical linkages to lynching and racism are irresponsible demagoguery.

  4. A comment here should underscore the viciousness of the court of public opinion and even the viciousness of political indictments, a tool the Obama administration and now Mueller have taken to new heights — indictments for PR which serve the purpose of destroying the target but have little chance of resulting in convictions.

    On June 27, 2016, the United States Supreme Court unanimously overturned[8] McDonnell’s conviction and remanded the case back to a lower court.[9] Less than three months later, the Justice Department announced that they would not prosecute the case again, and moved to dismiss the charges against the former governor and his wife.[10] The case racked up over $27 million in legal bills, and McDonnell has taken four jobs to pay them off.[11]

  5. My Gawd! I agree completely with musingsfromjanus.

    And just to accentuate – criminal justice is a very precise process that has rules to ensure that the accused is fairly treated and you can bet – NONE of that will be done by a cabal of partisan legislators…

    These guys have no shame. They are so desperate that they are going to lose their majority in the GA – they are going to exploit every opportunity they can to avoid it.

  6. I agree, ideally there should be a trial. But in which jurisdiction, pray tell?

  7. Wait a minute; not so fast. The “court of public opinion” is, after all, the political judgment of the people voting in the next election. Perhaps the Gov. can’t succeed himself but the others sure can run for other statewide offices.

    In extreme cases, the “court of public opinion” can be heard indirectly through the public’s representatives in any impeachment proceeding. Impeachment is not trial in a court of law; due process applies only as a matter of fairness, there is no constitutional requirement for it; the grounds for impeachment are purposely vague and amount to a thumbs up or down on the public’s perception of the impeached-one’s morality and political future. I agree with Mr. Troy, there are constitutional limitations, but it’s not that crystal clear to me that the triggering “misdemeanor” must have been committed while in office, if it affects the ability to carry out the office. Of course impeachment should not be a mere political weapon, but most politicians have more sense than to make it so, because what goes around comes around.

    Yes, the court of public opinion can be an expensive place to uphold one’s reputation. But that’s not where McDonnell spent all that money; he took on his criminal conviction in a federal court of law (and not incidentally won). Care to speculate what might have happened if the whole episode had blown up earlier in his term and he had been impeached and removed from office? Do you think any amount of cash could have resuscitated his career from that?

  8. The “court of public opinion decision” is not in doubt. Fairfax will seek no additional elective office. He will sit by the phone for hours waiting to be invited to campaign events this summer. It’s over. Very lonely…..Nothing short of exposing these women as female Jussie Smollets can give him a glimmer of hope. Even then, doubt will linger.

    Likewise, McDonnell will seek no additional elective office, which saddens me but it remains self-inflicted. There are just too many other people available for the parties to nominate. I’m glad to see him rebuilding a legal career.

  9. My understanding is that we have libel laws to protect ourselves from vindictive and venomous people who would destroy individuals and organizations for revenge or greed or other very human and universal but unworthy motives. Nowhere is this more likely than politics. We are debating this because there seem now no longer any standards for what is permissible to smear and ruin people at even the most traditionally respected and trusted media.

    Based on what is out there now, I don’t think Fairfax should be required to defend himself against anything in any place other than a courtroom with both parties under gag orders.

    If we were true to the concepts of innocent until proven guilty, it would be considered libel to spread, insinuate or otherwise smear someone for “crimes” and actions for which they have not been convicted.

    And for the character assassinations for supposedly unacceptable but legal behavior, perhaps there should be a standard that the media must present irrefutable evidence of the beliefs, lapses or whatever to avoid legal punishment. The Hulk Hogan case was a start in the right direction. If the Covington case goes against WP, as it should, maybe that is another step toward a fairer and more humane public discourse.

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