Tag Archives: racism

Virginia: It’s for political discomfort

They say that “Virginia is for lovers,” which is a slogan the state uses to market itself to the rest of the world.

These days, though, the state is taking on a whole new definition. It’s now a place where the highest echelon of the state’s government is squirming in extreme discomfort.

Gov. Ralph Northam is facing an enormous amount of pressure to resign after a picture surfaced on his medical school yearbook page showing two men, one of them in black face, the other in a Ku Klux Klan outfit. Northam’s name is on the page. He at first apologized for the photo, then said he wasn’t either of the men depicted in it and has resisted demands that he quit the governor’s office.

Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, the next in line for the top job in Richmond, has accused of sexual assault by a woman who said he raped her in a hotel room in 2004. Fairfax said the encounter was “consensual,” and has denied doing anything wrong. He’s also issued a type of apology for an act he said he didn’t commit. Go figure.

Attorney General Mark Herring, the next in line for the governor’s office after Fairfax, now reportedly appeared in black face in the 1980s, igniting yet another firestorm in the Virginia statehouse. Herring admitted to wearing black makeup to look like a rapper.

All three of these fellows are facing pressure to quit. They’re all Democrats. The next individual in line to take the top job, if all of them quit — as they likely should do — is the speaker of the Virginia House of Representatives. He’s a Republican.

It goes without saying that the balance of power in a significant “swing state” that has become vital to presidential candidates is teetering on the brink of a major shift.

Does all of this matter to a national audience? You bet it does! We’re talking about race relations and in the age of the #MeToo movement, any reference to sexual assault or harassment lifts it onto the national stage.

Oh . . . brother!

To think that Texas politics has been called a “contact sport.” In Virginia, it has become a “collision sport.” 

Weren’t the editors on the job at Northam’s school?

I want to discuss briefly a back story related to the Ralph Northam scandal that is still boiling in Virginia.

You’ve heard about it, yes? Gov. Northam, a Democrat, has tried to explain away why his medical school page — with his name on it — contains a picture of two men, one of whom is in black face, the other is dressed in a Ku Klux Klan get up.

Northam’s first response was to apologize for the picture and to take responsibility for posing as one of the two men pictured. Then he backed away, saying he wasn’t in the picture. He then said he won’t resign, which his entire Democratic Party apparatus in Virginia is demanding that he do.

The back story? Why did the publishers of the Eastern Virginia Medical School yearbook allow the picture onto its pages? Wasn’t anyone at the school paying attention to this hideous image?

It occurred in 1984, for crying out loud! It wasn’t 1924, or 1934. It was in an era when we supposedly had traveled many miles from the hatred and bigotry exemplified by black face portrayals and the terrorism inflicted on American citizens by the KKK.

Northam said he didn’t buy the yearbook. He didn’t see the picture until just the other day. He didn’t know the photo of the black face guy and the KKK dude were on his page until just now, 35 years later?

I believe Northam should resign.

I also believe the publisher and the editors associated with the med school yearbook need to be held accountable for allowing that hideous image to appear in the publication in the first place.

As for the governor’s assertion that he didn’t know of the photo’s existence until just now, I don’t believe that for an instant either.

This is a hideous story that needs to be explored in meticulous detail.

First things first, though. Get out of office, Gov. Northam.

Gov. Northam on his way out? More than likely

Don’t hold me to this, but here is what I think is likely to happen with Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam: He says he won’t quit, but it will be impossible for him to govern the commonwealth . . . which means he’ll resign.

The Democratic governor has been caught in a hideous racial scandal. A picture on his page inside the 1984 yearbook from the Eastern Virginia Medical School shows two men: one is in black face, the other is wearing a Ku Klux Klan getup. Northam at first apologized for the harm he caused by appearing in that picture. Then he said he didn’t appear in the photograph and said he wouldn’t quit the governor’s office.

Northam’s denial didn’t go over well. Democrats in Virginia are hollering for him to resign. So are Republicans.

The way I see it way over here in Texas is that this matter is playing out the way scandals such as this usually do. The individual caught up in it stands his or her ground. The subject is defiant, vowing to fight the fight.

Then it becomes obvious that the individual cannot shake off the ill will, cannot do his or her job, cannot function under the oath taken.

Virginia lawmakers, of course, have another option: impeachment. You can bet your last greenback that the subject is being discussed openly in Richmond, the state capital.

Were it not for the racial element of this scandal, a controversy such as this should be no one’s business except for those who reside in Virginia. That’s not the case here. This matter resonates around the country, even in far away places such as Texas.

Gov. Northam is limited to a single term under state law. I doubt seriously he’ll walk out of office with his head held high.

Now, what about a POTUS who said some nasty things?

Virginia Republicans need to tread carefully.

The state’s Democratic governor, Ralph Northam, has apologized for appearing in a racist photograph showing two men — one in blackface and the other in a KKK-style costume. The Virginia GOP has called for his immediate resignation.

I agree that Northam should resign.

However . . .

Just a word of advice to the state Republican Party is in order. The nation’s Top Republican, Donald Trump, said in 2017 that there were “good people” who belonged to white supremacist groups, Nazis and Klansmen who protested the removal of a Confederate statue in Charlottesville, Va.

Will they hold the president to account for that hideous assertion?

Ever?

Gov. Northam, you have blown it!

OK, so a Democratic governor way over yonder in Virginia has been revealed to have appeared in a picture with someone who had smeared black paint on his face while he posed with a guy dressed in a Ku Klux Klan-style robe.

Ralph Northam has apologized; he hasn’t said which of the young men was him. He issued this statement:

“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. I want to be clear, I understand how this decision shakes Virginians’ faith in that commitment. …

“I recognize that it will take time and serious effort to heal the damage this conduct has caused. I am ready to do that important work. The first step is to offer my sincerest apology and to state my absolute commitment to living up to the expectations Virginians set for me when they elected me to be their Governor.”

I’ll give the governor credit, though, for avoiding one of those “if I offended anyone” non-apologies. He has owned his egregious error.

However, is that good enough? Does that settle it? Not even close.

You see, the picture showed up in a 1984 medical school yearbook. Northam had graduated already from college, received his bachelor’s degree and was enrolled in medical school. He was an adult. It’s not as though he was some dipsh** junior high schooler who got carried away because he wasn’t thinking straight.

This picture is now going to haunt Northam for the entire time he serves as governor of a former Confederate state.

Virginia Republicans say he should resign. I believe they have a point. Gov. Northam cannot possibly be taken seriously from this day forward as he seeks to govern all the residents of his state.

Northam needs to go.

Rep. King has some serious issues to ponder

I cannot pretend to know what ticks inside the (so-called) heart of a rural Iowa congressman known for his big mouth far more than for any legislative accomplishments.

All any of us can do is to weigh the man’s words and wonder: Does he really believe this stuff? If he does, then the nation’s legislative body has a monster in its midst.

Republican Rep. Steve King told The New York Times that he doesn’t know how the terms “white nationalist” and “white supremacist” have been cast as “offensive” language. I already have addressed that issue in this blog, noting that those terms are associated with hate groups that have exacted violence for far too long against non-white, non-Christian American citizens.

Why is ‘white nationalist’ a negative term?

Now we have the House of Representatives and whether it must take action against one of its 435 members. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says the body will “consider” some form of punishment against King.

GOP members fire back at King

What troubles me about this individual is his history of what borders on hate speech. He was among the cabal of cretins in public life who continually questioned the birth credentials of the 44th president of the United States, who happens to be African-American; he has spoken of migrants “with calves the size of cantaloupes” smuggling drugs across the southern border from Latin America; his record of public commentary is full of similarly offensive remarks that barely hide his seeming contempt for racial and ethnic minorities.

Yet he remains in office, taking an active role in enacting legislation that affects all Americans. Sure, he gets sent back to Congress every two years, meaning that he has the endorsement of his constituents back home. That is their call to make.

Once he’s in office, though, his conduct becomes everyone’s business. Yours and mine.

Thus, it’s fair for me to say I do not want this man occupying one of those legislative offices responsible for the enactment of laws that govern all 330 million Americans.

Steve King is a disgrace to the U.S. Congress and given the reputation the legislative body has these days among Americans, that’s really saying something.

Why is ‘white nationalist’ a negative term?

U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, apparently wants to know how the terms “white nationalist” and “white supremacist” became negative terms.

As The Hill reported: “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” King asked in an interview with the New York Times published on Thursday. “Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization.”

OK, I think I have an answer for the congressman, who has aligned himself with those groups on occasion during his, um, rather checkered career in national politics.

They became “offensive” when groups such as the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis, the Aryan Brotherhood and other similar organizations terrorized fellow American citizens.

Non-white, non-Christian citizens got lynched. Their homes were firebombed. Perhaps Rep. King recalls the time four little girls were killed in 1963 when a bomb exploded in a Birmingham, Ala., church. The girls were black. The man who murdered them was a KKK member. He was connected with those who called themselves “white nationalists,” and “white supremacists.”

Does that explain it? I hope so.

King is a hardliner on immigration, along with Donald Trump. He wants to build The Wall. He wants, apparently, to seriously reduce the number of “legal immigrants” along with stopping altogether those who come here illegally.

This is just a hunch, but I’d bet real American money that Rep. King especially wants to curb immigration of those from “sh**hole countries” in, say, Africa, Haiti and other countries in Latin America.

Yes, the terms “white supremacist” and “white nationalist” are offensive in the extreme to many of us, Rep. King.

Espy vs. Hyde-Smith: Race still matters . . . sadly

I do wish this weren’t the case, but race still matters in determining our elected leadership in many of our states.

I fear we’re going to see an example of it at the end of today when they count the ballots in Mississippi, a state long held up as an example where bigotry and racism run rampant.

U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith is running for election to a seat to which she was appointed. The Republican is facing Democrat Mike Espy, a former agriculture secretary in the Clinton administration and a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives. It’s a runoff election, with Hyde-Smith and Espy competing as the top two finishers in an open contest featuring candidates from both major parties.

It doesn’t look good for Espy at this moment. Why? Well, Espy is an African-American candidate. He also is known as a moderate Democrat, a thoughtful fellow with extensive government experience.

Hyde-Smith has been caught in a number of troubling incidents. She said just a few weeks ago that she would be on the front row if she were invited to a “public hanging.” Many substituted the term “hanging” with “lynching,” which of course sounds the siren to African-Americans who know what that entails.

She then offered one of those idiotic non-apologies, saying she is sorry to “anyone who was offended” by her remarks. She also had her picture taken in 2014 wearing a Confederate cap, packing a rifle under a caption that extolled the Confederacy’s glowing role in state history.

Sheesh, man!

Mississippi is a deeply Republican state. Espy is hoping to capture lightning with a record African-American turnout today, while winning roughly a quarter of the white vote. Will it happen? I hope it does.

Here, though, is one more kick in the gut: The third-place finisher in that earlier election was a Donald Trump sycophant, Chris McDaniel; most of the votes that McDaniel got are damn near a cinch to end up in Hyde-Smith’s column at day’s end.

Yes, we should all should be interested in this race, even though it’s down yonder in Mississippi. The winner will help write national laws that affect all of us.

Thus, I am pulling for Mike Espy.

Goodbye, AG Sessions … and, yes, good riddance

I feel the need to set the record straight about former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

I have spent some time commenting positively about on this blog for his decision to recuse himself from the Russia probe into the Donald Trump presidential campaign. He faced a clear conflict of interest when he took the job as AG because of his campaign role as a foreign policy adviser to Donald Trump.

He was involved at some level with the Russians who made contact with the campaign. There were questions about an investigation. Sessions had to recuse himself because of the conflict of interest.

I applauded him for that singular act.

However, he shouldn’t have been selected AG in the first place. The man “earned” the nomination because he was the first U.S. senator to endorse Trump’s candidacy.

Prior to his becoming a senator, though, Sessions took on a serious blot on his public service record.

He served as a U.S. attorney in Alabama. President Reagan nominated him in 1986 to a federal judgeship. Then questions surfaced about Sessions’s comments regarding the Ku Klux Klan. Witnesses testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee that Sessions reportedly had given KKK members a pass until he learned that they “smoked pot.” Four Justice Department lawyers testified they heard Sessions make racist remarks.

The committee eventually voted 10-8 against his nomination. It went to the full Senate for a vote and senators rejected Sessions for the federal bench.

What did he do then? He ran for the Senate in 1996 — and won! He served in the Senate for 20 years until Trump tapped him to lead the Justice Department. He didn’t stand out during his Senate years. Sessions, though, did manage to get embraced by Trump.

Am I glad he’s gone from the Justice Department? Yes and no. I am unhappy that his resignation now clears the decks for Trump to nominate someone who endorses his view about Mueller’s investigation.

Overall, though, I won’t shed a tear that he’s gone. His pre-Senate history was a deal breaker from the get-go.

Strange verb sets off ‘dog whistles’

I’ll admit that I don’t know Ron DeSantis from the man in the moon.

He is the newly nominated Republican candidate for Florida governor. He is running this fall against Democratic nominee Andrew Gillum.

OK, it has gotten a bit complicated.

DeSantis — a devotee of Donald J. Trump — just happened to say that Florida voters shouldn’t “monkey this up” by electing Gillum as the state’s next governor.

Here it comes: Gillum is African-American. DeSantis’s use of the word “monkey” in a curious verb form has a good many folks wondering about the potential racial intent of using such a word regarding an African-American political opponent.

This particular word has gotten politicians and assorted public officials in trouble over many years. I need not chronicle for you why African-Americans — as well as many other Americans, such as me — find it at minimum careless.

At worst it reveals a hideous side of those who use such a term when referencing someone who happens to be a racial minority.

According to MSN.com: In a statement, Stephen Lawson, a spokesman for Mr. DeSantis, rejected the idea that the candidate’s comments had a racial undertone.

“Ron DeSantis was obviously talking about Florida not making the wrong decision to embrace the socialist policies that Andrew Gillum espouses,” Mr. Lawson said. “To characterize it as anything else is absurd.”

OK, a prepared statement from a political flack isn’t good enough. We need to hear from Rich DeSantis. In person. Live and in real time.