Who Is the Dude in the Plaid Pants?

Who is the dude in the plaid pants?

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.

The resemblance also might rule out the possibility that Northam was the hooded KKK figure standing next to Blackface Dude in the yearbook photo. Judged by their eye level, KKK Man was considerably shorter than Blackface Dude. By contrast, Northam was tall and rangy.

The Hi-Y photo appears in the 1977 Onancock High School yearbook. Northam graduated from the predominantly African-American high school that year. Although Northam does not appear in the Hi-Y photo, two of the five individuals depicted are African-American, indicating that Northam participated in extra-curricular activities with blacks. If he harbored racist attitudes as a young man, it wasn’t in evidence by his participation in that club.

Would anybody hang on to the same hideous pants — polyester, I’m guessing — for the seven years between the high school photo and Northam’s Eastern Virginia Medical School photo? Can we assume that Blond Guy and Blackface Dude are one in the same? If so, we could conjecture that Blond Guy retained a friendship with Northam during this period, possibly even attending EVMS during the same period. Some digital detective should check to see if anyone resembling Blond Guy appears elsewhere in the EVMS yearbook, if not in 1984, then perhaps the following year.

Another point of comparison: Blond Guy has very big hair — as does Blackface Dude. Blackface Dude’s hair appears to be black, not blond, but it’s hard to tell for sure given the poor quality of the photo.

One more point of comparison Blond Guy is a skinny fellow with narrow, sloping shoulders. Blackface Dude is a skinny guy, but his shoulders don’t seem to slope as sharply. Could seven years of physical maturation account for the difference?

As always with such things, the evidence is inconclusive. But the bizarre coincidence of seemingly identical plaid pants makes it impossible to rule out the possibility that the yearbook picture depicts one of Northam’s friends, not Northam himself. If that supposition is correct, the question becomes how the photo came to be mixed in with the other Northam photos in the yearbook.

Yearbook hanky panky? That’s where the account of Dr. William Elwood comes in. He’s the person who laid out the EVMS yearbook. From CNN:

Elwood said photos for personal pages “were chosen by the individual student.”

“They were submitted in a sealed envelope with their name on it to the yearbook staff, to be put on their page,” Elwood told CNN.

“The pictures for the personal ones were not just chosen at random from other pictures that might have been available at that time.”

Elwood said it’s possible someone other than Northam submitted the disturbing photo, but it seems unlikely.

“Anything is possible, but the probability is low unless someone was out to get him and was able to get access to all this stuff,” he said. “All of this stuff was kept in a locked room, and the only time the room was unlocked was when somebody was in that room working on the yearbook.”

He also said it’s unlikely that staff members mixed up photos during production because “as far as I know, nobody complained that their picture was under the wrong person.”

Recapping: It was standard protocol (1) for students to select their own photos, (2) submit the photos in a sealed envelope with their name on it, and (3) for the photos to be laid out with much thought or supervision. We can reasonably infer that Northam, regardless of whether or not he subsequently purchased and viewed a yearbook, did participate in the photo-selection process. How else can one explain that the yearbook includes three other photos of him?

Could Northam have submitted the blackface-KKK photo, even if he wasn’t in it? Frankly, that doesn’t make much sense. Could someone (Blond Guy?) have played a prank by slipping the photo into the envelope before Northam sealed it? That, too, seems like a stretch. Whichever explanation you lean toward, nothing really adds up. To my mind, this is still an open case.

Karma’s a bitch. Whether Northam is guilty of racism as charged or not, there is a certain justice to what has happened to him. A number of commentators, including Jack Crowe at National Review recall how Northam’s campaign partnered with the Latino Victor Fund SuperPAC to release an ad depicting  a man driving a pickup truck with a “Gillespie for governor” bumper sticker chasing down a group of terrified minority children. The Northam campaign’s charges were despicable. What goes around comes around.

Race trumps gender. Meanwhile, as if this story couldn’t get weirder, Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax has denied a sexual assault allegation dating back to 2004. Fairfax and his accuser had a sexual encounter in a hotel room during the at the Democratic National Convention. He described it as consensual. She said Fairfax forced her to perform oral sex.

Here’s the kicker: The Washington Post investigated the allegations, could find no evidence proving or disproving the charges, and decided not to run a story. In related news, Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh could not be reached for comment.

Update: Case solved. Blond Guy has been identified, and he’s not the guy in black face.

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8 responses to “Who Is the Dude in the Plaid Pants?

  1. A whole lot of us had some damn ugly pants and jackets in those days….for all we know, all the members of the Hi-Y Club bought a pair, and we’re back to the starting point again. Nice try but no cigar, not yet….(Unless the guy in the Hi-Y photo also went to EVMS, which is where I thought you were going.)

    More telling is that Northam attended that public high school and not one of the all-white seg academies prevalent in so many rural Virginia localities. I’m sure there was one on the Eastern Shore in those days. There is a school, Broadwater, which was founded about that era like so many others.

    • Agreed on the pants and jackets. Some of the plaids were so outrageous that if a Scotsman showed up in a kilt with those patterns, he would be killed. Even the staid general counsel of the company where I worked before coming East had a couple of plaid sports coats that could burn retinas.

  2. They pitched Northam because he had no political future before the Coonman Incident and his replacement, Justin Fairfax. has lots of political future. If Jill Vogel would have run the race for Lt Governor (instead of Justin Fairfax) the Democrats would have been a lot more muted and a lot more forgiving. By November Justin Fairfax will have tried to use his charisma to make the faithful forget all about Northam. Odds are, he’d succeed.

    As for the pants … all part of the Virginia elite uniform of the late 70s early 80s. God only knows how many pairs of ugly plaid pants were hanging closets of the elite? I’m Northam’s age. I’ve known too many Ralph Northams … preppy pinheads. The average Virginian of 2019 has no Earthly idea what they’re dealing with when they deal with a member of Virginia’s landed gentry elite.
    These people are messed up.

    Wait a minute. Damn! I’ve done it. I figured out who the guy in the plaid pants really is …

    Pro golfer Johnny Miller … https://www.golfdigest.com/story/johnny-millers-bold-fashion-claim-to-fame

    However, if it isn’t Ralphie in blackface but it’s one of his very good friends from college then where oh where could Ralphie be? Like people used to say to me when I worked in a gas station in high school … better check under the hood.

    Finally Justin Fairfax. What palace intrigue! Who stirred this hornets’ nest?Was it Ralphie? Levar Stoney?

    • The betting is Stoney. With good evidence, apparently some connection within Democratic circles to the accuser.

      Stories today put this plaid pants thing to rest, as I expected. But people are lining up to say they doubt Northam did pose for that photo, and certainly have seen nothing in his life to match that kind of behavior. I expected that, too. But we need to see where we are in the fullness of time….

  3. When I first time I saw the photos my first reaction was that neither was Northam. The blackface guy has a different torso build and the Klanner is too short.

    Also, impeachment is available only for misdeeds in office. Plus, whatever Northam did or didn’t do is nowhere close to what Bob McDonnell did do while in office.

    • We all have to get to a point where we don’t shoot first and ask questions later. I bet Fairfax agrees with that now! (And I bet he didn’t when it was Kavanaugh being destroyed.)

    • I agree on the impeachment question. No basis for that from a photograph. the bigger question to me is what’s not being said. Who in the hell attended parties dressed in blackface or in Klan outfits in 1984? What kind of company was Ralphie keeping? Were there no black people at these parties? Is Ralphie a latter day segregationist? And what about the Michael Jackson imitation where he admitted to wearing blackface. Were there no black people at that contest?

      I’ve never worn blackface or a Klan outfit. And I was born in 1959 and raised in Virginia public schools just like Ralphie. I can’t imagine going to a party and seeing somebody in a Klan outfit and not asking, “What the F*** is wrong with you?” If that picture were on my yearbook page a lot of my African-American teammates, classmates and friends would have taken me to task for it. I would have demanded that the picture be removed and that the yearbook editors publicly apologize to me and to all the people who were offended by that picture.

      The real question wasn’t whether Ralphie was in the picture but what kind of life the 25 year old medical school graduate was living.

  4. Today’s WaPo carries this pitch by Kathleen Parker: “By any measure of fairness, Northam deserves a chance to further redeem himself as governor.” Opinion | What is the statute of limitations for being a jerk-goofball-hellraiser? from The Washington Post https://wapo.st/2Gos2lM?tid=ss_mail&utm_term=.b16a17b46434

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