Governor Ralph Northam has had a rough week in the media if you haven’t been following…
(and really I couldn’t blame anyone who longs for the days of receiving one influx of news per day when the paper hit the porch early in the morning. In those days news was digested with a cup of coffee and a doughnut [yes I know – the horror] in things called paragraphs with a modicum of thoughtfulness at least by today’s standards. So astute are we in 2019 that we may possibly read a slanted headline or tweet, glance at a picture and have complete understanding of a situation. Consider our recent uproar over MAGA hats and contrived headlines as a reference point)
But I digress.
…If you haven’t been following, the Governor made absolutely horrific statements early in the week supporting the proposed late term abortion bill that was narrowly defeated in the Virginia Legislature. He also implied that not only was he in support of late term abortion, he was in favor of possibly not providing care to a delivered baby if the mother and physician so agree. Here is the central quote from the governor: “If a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen. The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother,” Whether the governor was advocating for infanticide seems uncertain to me from this quote, but he was clearly advocating for abortion up to delivery which is beyond despicable. (Note: There is virtually no circumstance that a full term baby needs to have scissors jammed into the back of their skulls and their body hacked to pieces to benefit the mother. Multiple experts have weighed in stating the baby could just as safely be delivered alive and cared for without additional risk to the mother thus avoiding murdering a completely viable infant)
So I am not a big fan of the Governor.
Later in the week a picture was unearthed from 35 years ago when the governor was 24 years old and in medical school. The year was 1984. For those of you unacquainted with this era, it was a time when He – Man Masters of the Universe had recently debuted to the delight of boys everywhere. Of course today we know the show was a breeding ground of “toxic-masculinity.” She-Ra (which as a boy I, of course, have never seen) was the female counterpart of He-Man designed for girls. Obviously, this was before scientists had discovered the gender continuum scale proving that some can physically alter their chromosomes from XX to XY or vice versa. No the main continuum we were thinking about in 1984 was a space-time one and how Marty was going to save Doc and get back from 1955. In 1984 you could even tackle quarterbacks. We were like barbarians back then. I could go on, but I’ll spare you. My point is 1984 did not have the sensitivities of 2019. And mainly that was a good thing.
So back to our governor, whom I don’t like. In medical school, back in this unenlightened era, he had the extremely poor foresight (given his future career and 2019’s hypersensitivity) to be photographed wearing either a KKK or blackface costume – he is not identified so we don’t know which one he was dressed as. This has quite predictably been whipped into a public firestorm by our instant, less-than-erudite press and eager public on both sides of the political spectrum.
Was it a smart move to dress as a black man or clansmen? Clearly no. Does it necessarily show the man is a racist of the highest order? No it doesn’t. Some questions to consider.
1) If someone showed up at a party dressed as a Nazi and prisoner would that mean they are pro-Nazi? If they showed up as a Roman Centurion and slave would that mean they were pro-slavery? If you are considering saying yes you are a product of our outrage addicted age. There was a time in our not so long ago history where we dealt with dark and difficult things differently. We laughed at them. Think 3 stooges dressed as Nazi’s. Now whether you think as I do that that was a better way of dealing with things than our psycho-sensitivity today or not – what is certain is that in 1984 things were not the same as today. Today if I decide to dress in a KKK costume I could “justifiably” be shot. However in 1984 it didn’t even make a splash – the splash happened in 2019.
2) Does dressing in costume as a evil figure automatically mean you love the evil represented? Presumably the governor was not photographed at an actual KKK rally. He was dressing up for a party. We don’t know anything about the context of the party (come as the worst villain you can think of or come as a historical bad guy). Who knows? And of course in our unthinking age – NO ONE CARES. If you put black on your face you are a worthless human being and a racist. There is no context that you could do that from the perspective of 2019 and not be fully embracing the enslavement, belittlement and hatred of blacks. In the same way that if you wear a MAGA hat you are a racist. That is how narrow our open minds have become.
3) If I had a photograph of everything you had done through your 20’s how many of you would be running for office? Is it possible that you have done some stupid stuff? Does that mean that you cannot possibly be qualified 35 years later to hold office?
4) Why was there no outrage over this photo until now? If this was understood in 1984 as supporting lynching blacks why would a medical school allow it in their year book? Because it was not understood that way.
I don’t know if Governor Northam holds or held racist attitudes. If he does there is no doubt that he is wrong. What I do know is that you cannot tell from this picture whether he does or not. Our time, with the stated cardinal virtue of tolerance, has become the least tolerant – most hateful generation that I have experienced. Should a man’s life be judged on a out-of-context 35 year old yearbook photo. NO! If he expresses racist sentiments – yes he should rightfully be condemned. His statements on abortion should be strongly condemned and disqualify him from office. But when we make EV-ERY-THING a mountain actually significant things lose their meaning and we will continue to live in perpetual outrage finding no way out of own prison we have built with our virtue-signaling.
At the end of the day, Northam should be held accountable for the significant thing he has said he holds to – namely the murder of infants. That’s the story – not a 1984 costume he wore.