FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Northam Needs to Resign

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has admitted that he blackened his face as part of a Michael Jackson costume for a dance party.  He also initially admitted that he was one of the participants in a racist photo — of one person dressed in full Klan regalia and another in blackface —that appeared on his 1984 yearbook page.

The next day, however, he reversed himself, saying it could not have been him, bizarrely arguing that given how difficult it was to get shoe polish off his face after the dance contest, he surely would not have done it again.

The governor apologized, noting: “In the place and time where I grew up, many actions we rightfully recognize as abhorrent today were commonplace.” Yes, 1984 was a long time ago, but it was two decades after the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights laws, and three decades after Brown v. Board of Education declared segregation unconstitutional.

In 1984, I made my first run for the presidency. In 1985, Douglas Wilder became the first African-American elected statewide as lieutenant governor in Virginia, on his way to being elected governor four years later. Northam’s actions were offensive and wrong even at the time he committed them.

America’s long, sordid tradition of blackface minstrelsy — white people in blackface — was designed to burlesque black people, to portray them as dumb, grotesque and lascivious and was not incidentally part of propaganda for slavery.

The governor said that his actions then do not reflect his attitude, his views or his policies now or at any time throughout his military, medical and public career. All of us are sinners. Grace and redemption must be accorded to all who atone. I believe deeply that a person can be redeemed from a hideous past.

Northam’s record has been positive. In stark contrast to President Trump, he acted bravely during the racist protests in Charlottesville, Va., that resulted in the murder of Heather Heyer. Trump infamously embraced the proto-Nazi protesters, arguing that there were “good people on both sides.” Northam has advocated taking down the Confederate statues in Virginia.

In stark contrast to Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, portrayed in an infamous picture celebrating the Confederate flag, Northam has pushed to advance voting rights in Virginia. McConnell recently scorned legislation to expand and defend voting rights as a “power grab” while defending Republican efforts to suppress the vote across the country.

Trump and McConnell remain in power, yet the right-wing talking heads who celebrate Trump and McConnell are condemning Northam, demonstrating not their virtue but their rapacious partisanship.

Trump and McConnell have plenty of company on their side of the aisle. Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions contended the Voting Rights Act was “intrusive” on states’ rights.

Then there’s Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi. She was elected in November despite saying she’d happily sit in the front row of a “public hanging” if invited by a supporter. She didn’t say it 35 years ago. She said it a few months ago.

The recently elected Republican governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, also played the race card with little to no blowback from his party. He warned the voters of his state not to “monkey this up” by electing his African-American opponent, Andrew Gillum.

And before narrowly defeating African-American gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, Brian Kemp was the Georgia secretary of state and purged hundreds of thousands of Georgians from the voting rolls, most of them African-Americans.

As a practical matter, it will be impossible for Northam to lead the state of Virginia after this revelation.  His press conference in which he denied what he had admitted the day before did not help his cause.

Our leaders must represent the values that we espouse and honor the diversity of the coalition that we seek to build.  Virtually the entire leadership of the Democratic Party in the state has called on the governor to resign. He would be wise to accept their advice.

 

More articles by:

Jesse Jackson is the founder of Rainbow/PUSH.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

June 18, 2019
John McMurtry
Koch-Oil Big Lies and Ecocide Writ Large in Canada
Robert Fisk
Trump’s Evidence About Iran is “Dodgy” at Best
Yoav Litvin
Catch 2020 – Trump’s Authoritarian Endgame
Thomas Knapp
Opposition Research: It’s Not Trump’s Fault That Politics is a “Dirty” Game
Medea Benjamin - Nicolas J. S. Davies
U.S. Sanctions: Economic Sabotage that is Deadly, Illegal and Ineffective
Gary Leupp
Marx and Walking Zen
Thomas Hon Wing Polin
Color Revolution In Hong Kong: USA Vs. China
Howard Lisnoff
The False Prophets Cometh
Michael T. Klare
Bolton Wants to Fight Iran, But the Pentagon Has Its Sights on China
Steve Early
The Global Movement Against Gentrification
Dean Baker
The Wall Street Journal Doesn’t Like Rent Control
Tom Engelhardt
If Trump’s the Symptom, Then What’s the Disease?
June 17, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
The Dark Side of Brexit: Britain’s Ethnic Minorities Are Facing More and More Violence
Linn Washington Jr.
Remember the Vincennes? The US’s Long History of Provoking Iran
Geoff Dutton
Where the Wild Things Were: Abbey’s Road Revisited
Nick Licata
Did a Coverup of Who Caused Flint Michigan’s Contaminated Water Continue During Its Investigation? 
Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange and the Scales of Justice: Exceptions, Extraditions and Politics
John Feffer
Democracy Faces a Global Crisis
Louisa Willcox
Revamping Grizzly Bear Recovery
Stephen Cooper
“Wheel! Of! Fortune!” (A Vegas Story)
Daniel Warner
Let Us Laugh Together, On Principle
Brian Cloughley
Trump Washington Detests the Belt and Road Initiative
Weekend Edition
June 14, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Trump’s Trade Threats are Really Cold War 2.0
Bruce E. Levine
Tom Paine, Christianity, and Modern Psychiatry
Jason Hirthler
Mainstream 101: Supporting Imperialism, Suppressing Socialism
T.J. Coles
How Much Do Humans Pollute? A Breakdown of Industrial, Vehicular and Household C02 Emissions
Andrew Levine
Whither The Trump Paradox?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: In the Land of 10,000 Talkers, All With Broken Tongues
Pete Dolack
Look to U.S. Executive Suites, Not Beijing, For Why Production is Moved
Paul Street
It Can’t Happen Here: From Buzz Windrip and Doremus Jessup to Donald Trump and MSNBC
Rob Urie
Capitalism Versus Democracy
Richard Moser
The Climate Counter-Offensive: Secrecy, Deception and Disarming the Green New Deal
Naman Habtom-Desta
Up in the Air: the Fallacy of Aerial Campaigns
Ramzy Baroud
Kushner as a Colonial Administrator: Let’s Talk About the ‘Israeli Model’
Mark Hand
Residents of Toxic W.Va. Town Keep Hope Alive
John Kendall Hawkins
Alias Anything You Please: a Lifetime of Dylan
Linn Washington Jr.
Bigots in Blue: Philadelphia Police Department is a Home For Hate
David Macaray
UAW Faces Its Moment of Truth
Brian Cloughley
Trump’s Washington Detests the Belt and Road Initiative
Horace G. Campbell
Edward Seaga and the Institutionalization of Thuggery, Violence and Dehumanization in Jamaica
Graham Peebles
Zero Waste: The Global Plastics Crisis
Michael Schwalbe
Oppose Inequality, Not Cops
Ron Jacobs
Scott Noble’s History of Resistance
Olivia Alperstein
The Climate Crisis is Also a Health Emergency
David Rosen
Time to Break Up the 21st Century Tech Trusts
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail