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.”There are currently no comments highlighted.