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Commentary

Dem. Gov. Who Wore Blackface Now Trying To Remove Robert E. Lee Statue in DC

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Virginia Democrat Gov. Ralph Northam is running some kind of deranged race to get back into the good graces of all liberaldom. This apparently includes trying get a statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee removed from the U.S. Capitol.

Northam, anyone familiar with the name will recall, is the governor who decided against resignation when he was the subject of a blackface scandal early last year.

According to The Hill, Northam has now filed a bill that would remove Virginia’s statue of Lee from the National Statuary Hall Collection in the Capitol.

The legislation was filed at the request of two Democratic Virginia legislators, Reps. A. Donald McEachin and Jennifer Wexton.

“The statue of Lee, which depicts him in his Confederate uniform, was donated by the Commonwealth during the period from 1900 to the 1930s when dozens of Confederate monuments were erected across the country,” McEachin and Wexton wrote in a letter to Northam earlier this week, according to ABC News.

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“These statues aimed to rewrite Lee’s reputation from that of a cruel slave owner and Confederate General to portraying him as a kind man and reluctant war hero who selflessly served his home state of Virginia.”

The letter also claimed Virginia bore a special burden of responsibility to steer clear of anything involving slavery since the first slaves in the United States were brought ashore there in 1619, an annus horribilis you’ve heard bandied about quite frequently these past few months.

“The statue in the National Statuary Hall Collection is placed in the U.S. Capitol Crypt, a prominent location that is displayed to almost every tour group that visits the U.S. Capitol, and as such serves as a prevalent reminder of Virginia’s disturbing racial legacy,” the letter read. “This history began when enslaved Africans landed at Point Comfort in August 1619 and led to 550,000 people being enslaved in the Commonwealth by 1860.”

Furthermore, Richmond served as the capital of the Confederacy and the state’s “black codes” set the template for Jim Crow laws, according to the letter.

Do you think Ralph Northam should resign as Virginia's governor?

The history of inequality exists today, the lawmakers said, since “black Virginians experience higher levels of unemployment even when compared to whites with the same education level. In education itself, white Virginians are significantly more likely to earn a high school or college degree. These disparities continue when examining the health care industry. For example, black women are more than twice as likely to die within a year of giving birth as white women in the Commonwealth.”

“As Virginians, we have a responsibility to not only learn from but also confront our history. As part of this responsibility, we must strive for a more complete telling of history by raising up the voices, stories, and memories of minorities and people of color,” the letter read. “In doing so, we should consider what monuments we can add to acknowledge the horrors of slavery, expose the injustices of institutional racism, and honor those who dedicated their lives to fighting for equality.”

One statue apparently can do a whole heck of a lot.

Anyway, Northam filed a request for the bill in the newly Democratic legislature, apparently a sign that he’s willing to help “expose the injustices of institutional racism.”

He’s just not willing to resign when it turns out that he’s a racist.

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In case you’ve forgotten: After a kerfuffle involving a radio appearance in which his words indicated he was open to endorsing what might charitably be called fourth-trimester abortion, a page from Northam’s medical school yearbook emerged in which a man in blackface was pictured next to a man dressed as a Klansman, presumably at some sort of costume party.

Northam at first apologized but later rescinded the apology, saying that he couldn’t have appeared in the picture.

Why, you might ask? Well, he would know if he appeared in blackface in the photo because of an, ahem, unique set of other life experiences.

“My belief that I did not wear that costume or attend that party stems in part from my clear memory of other mistakes I made in the same period of my life,” Northam said a news conference last February.

“That same year, I did participate in a dance contest in San Antonio in which I darkened my face as part of a Michael Jackson costume.”

He went on to say that “because my memory of that episode is so vivid that I truly do not believe I am in the picture in my yearbook. You remember these things.”

Northam loped through a few weeks of self-inflicted missteps and calls for his resignation, including some tepid ones from Democrats.

The whole sordid issue metastasized to the point where the lieutenant governor was accused of sexual assault and the third-in-line to the governor’s mansion was also outed as having worn blackface.

These individuals, by the way, were all Democrats. None of the three resigned.

Demanding that a Robert E. Lee statue be removed from the National Statuary Hall Collection is about as low-stakes as you can get. It’s worth noting that each state gets two statues and Virginia’s other one is George Washington — certainly not as controversial, but also a slave-owner.

If we’re going full-on revisionist history, let’s just get a two-for-one and wheel both sculptures out of there while we’re at it.

Or, here’s an idea that could deal a far more corporeal blow to racism in 2020: How about McEachin and Wexton ask Northam to finally do the right thing and resign?

Not only did Northam wear blackface long after it should have been clear to any thinking individual that it was abhorrent, he spent weeks minimizing the matter and hoping it went away. Lo and behold, it did.

Instead, McEachin and Wexton see nothing wrong with asking that guy to help them remove the Lee statue. And of course Northam’s going to help out here.

What better way to regain his Democrat cred than a meaningless gesture like taking down the statue of a dead general born almost 200 years ago?

I think there’s a better two-for-one deal than getting rid of Washington and Lee at the same time from the statuary hall, mind you. If Lee gets axed — and with Democrats now controlling the legislature, there’s a definite possibility he does — let’s get rid of Northam at the same time, too. If it’s not too late to vigorously revise the image of Robert E. Lee, it’s not too late to pressure the governor to do the right thing.

The ball’s in your court, Virginia Democrats.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Birthplace
Morristown, New Jersey
Education
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture




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