This is just too rich. Ralph Northam in blackface… or is he the one in the KKK hood? Now, let’s sit back and watch how long the PC statute of limitations is for Democrats compared to that for Republicans.
Entirely predictably, Republicans have called for Northam’s resignation: “Racism has no place in Virginia,” said RPV Chairman Jack Wilson. “These pictures are wholly inappropriate. If Governor Northam appeared in blackface or dressed in a KKK robe, he should resign immediately.”
Northam issued what is surely a sincere apology:
I am deeply sorry for the decision I made to appear as I did in this photo and for the hurt that decision caused then and now. This behavior is not in keeping with who I am today and the values I have fought for throughout my career in the military, in medicine, and in public service. But I want to make clear, I understand how this decision shakes Virginians’ faith in that commitment.
I can totally understand Republicans’ desire to stick the knife into Northam and twist it around — and then to pour salt in the wound. Had the photo been of, say, former Sen. George Allen (remember macaca, anyone?) or any other Republican officeholder, he would be subjected to endless and withering attacks until he resigned. Some Democrats groups and commentators are expressing shock and dismay at the photograph, but we’ll have to wait and see how sustained the outrage is, and whether any of them joins the clamor for Northam to step down.
Surely Northam deserves to be embarrassed, and surely he should show contrition — as he has. Even in the ’80s, black face was known to be offensive. But should he resign? The incident occurred 34 years ago when Northam was a young man. The standards of what constitutes appropriate racial sensitivity has changed dramatically since then. I have seen no evidence — none, certainly not the allegation that his endorsement of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline compression station in Buckingham constitutes an endorsement of racial injustice — that Northam has a racist bone in his body. Does the stain of guilt run so deep that he should be chased out of office? Personally, I don’t think so.
Republicans should know better. By demanding Northam’s resignation, they are endorsing the Democrats’ standard that there is no forgiveness for a racially insensitive act committed in a past era when standards were very different, that there is no redemption no matter what a person’s actions have been since then, that there is no statute of limitations for a racial transgression. Demanding Northam’s resignation endorses acceptance of the unforgiving racial-identity politics that is tearing the country apart. Let the governor pay public penance, and then let’s all move on.
Update: Based upon my dinner-time focus group tonight with three Democrats, an independent and a Republican, Northam is in for a rough ride. Two of my Democratic dinner companions were irate and said he should resign. No forgiveness for a transgression that occurred three decdaes ago. I will give them points for intellectual consistency. Ire for racial insensitivity is not reserved solely for Republicans. One Democrat at the dinner table wondered if Northam should be given credit for good deeds since then. Should he be judged only on the basis of one insensitive deed, regardless of what he might have done since? … Yeah, it looks like it.There are currently no comments highlighted.