|In the Name of God, Go!||
4 February 2019
Cogito Ergo Non Serviam
The Governor of Virginia Ralph Northam was a rising star in the Democratic Party up until Friday. Then, a photo hit the internet showing a photo from his 1984 medical school yearbook, when he was 25, on his page that had two people, one in a KKK hood and robe and the other in blackface. His first response was to express regret and contrition, but by Saturday afternoon, he had changed his story to denying he was even in the photo. The Democratic Party has largely abandoned him, and the question is whether he will resign, or if he will put the state through the agony of constitution for impeachment. Continuing in office is unacceptable, if not morally then politically.
The Klan and blackface were never acceptable morally, even at the height of racial animus from the end of the Civil War to the desegregation of the military in the 1940s. In a great many white social circles, those things were not seen to be immoral, but blindness to evil is no excuse.
A generation after Brown v. Board of Education, while the Space Shuttle and the personal computer were the height of technology, in 1984 as a medical student, Mr. Northam appeared to have a party routine of being a racist mocker of black people. Even if one accepts his weak denial that it was not him in the photo, the same page listed his nickname as "coonman," which could be a raccoon, but also is an unpalatable term racists use for black human beings. The photo suggests the racist meaning is the correct one.
Moreover, if it wasn't him in the photo, it appeared on his personal page. The right thing to do in that case would be to raise hell with the yearbook editor, such hell that it would be recalled decades later. The lack of witness to such a protest, the silence, speaks volumes.
This journal believes he should quit based on a racist past. Some people argue that what happened 35 years ago should not weigh against the good he has done his state. While one understands that position, millions of Americans his age never put on blackface and never put on KKK robes to be photographed. It's the kind of thing that one knew was wrong at the time.
However, let the matter of morality slide and address the question of whether he handled the crisis of Friday through Sunday well. Friday's statement that he was ashamed and that it was wrong was a start, and perhaps, on the strength of that he might have salvaged his term as governor. Saturday's press conference, at which he underscored the "it-wasn't-me" defense, destroyed any hope he had. Changing the story from one in which he accepted responsibility to one where he denied wrongdoing left him without any credibility at all. His own party is abandoning him, and he most assuredly can expect no help from the Republicans. In a parliamentary system, there would be a no-confidence motion tabled first thing today, and the governor would be gone as quickly as the house could be divided.
The governor, however, cannot be removed; he can only quit. Mr. Northam has decided, so far, that he will stand his ground and finish his term. To what end? What could he possibly achieve in office if he stays in office until 2022? The governor of a state is largely a cheerleader for local business and the main salesman in attracting new business. What business leader is going to want to be seen with him when every black customer (and a great many non-black customers) will take their custom elsewhere? Legislatively, the governor is the one state official who speaks for the interests of the entire state,not just a legislative or senate district. But who will listen to him?
As Oliver Cromwell said to the Rump Parliament in dissolving it, "You have sat too long for any good you have been doing lately . . . Depart, I say; and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!"
© Copyright 2019 by The Kensington Review, Jeff Myhre, PhD, Editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent. Produced using Ubuntu Linux.