Democrats are lucky that governors in Virginia can only run for one term.
In 2017, Democrat Ralph Northam — a pediatric neurologist and state senator — was elected governor of the state. In 2019, amid a furor over comments he made about what could charitably be termed fourth-trimester abortion, a website found Northam’s medical school yearbook.
Northam’s page was … um, interesting.
Question of the day for Joe Biden
Since you’ll be speaking with Virginia Democrats today, do you think Gov. Ralph Northam was the one in blackface or under the hood? pic.twitter.com/PH7FzRtp5I
— Tim Murtaugh (@TimMurtaugh) July 17, 2020
Northam initially apologized for the blackface/KKK photo but would later claim he wasn’t involved in that photo. How did he know? Because he’d donned blackface another time — as Michael Jackson, no less! — and the experience was so scarring that he would have known if he’d done it separately.
Nobody really bought this, but Northam refused to resign — especially since Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax was credibly accused of sexual assault and the third in line, Attorney General Mark Herring, also admitted he wore blackface.
However, little of this played a major role in the 2021 Virginia governor’s race, which Democratic gubernatorial nominee Terry McAuliffe managed to lose all on his own. GOP Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin’s win had little to do with Northam and plenty to do with education and the battered Democrat brand.
Now, suddenly, Democrats have started caring about “racist yearbook imagery” from their governor — although it’s not quite blackface. In fact, it’s nothing approaching that.
According to a Friday article in Blue Virginia — a publication which aims to “cover Virginia politics from a progressive and Democratic perspective — and to help elect Democrats” — titled “Youngkin’s Racist Yearbook Imagery (‘An Oriental Occasion’) Shows He Was Not Vetted” revealed that, as a prep-school teenager, Youngkin attended an Asian-themed prom which wouldn’t pass muster today.
“One would think that – after Ralph Northam’s ‘Blackface’ scandal – no Virginia gubernatorial candidate would ever get through a campaign without an opposition staffer flipping through their yearbook. But Terry McAuliffe’s hubris appears to have led to just that,” Blue Virginia’s Jeff Thomas wrote.
“A recently-obtained copy of Glenn Youngkin’s prep school yearbook (Norfolk Academy, 1985) shows that his senior prom, entitled ‘An Oriental Occasion,’ featured white students offensively dressed in ‘rice hats,’ sandals and geisha robes serving their tuxedoed, all-white peers. Youngkin is pictured right next to these racist stereotypes.”
New governor, new yearbook photo. Jeff Thomas with @bluevirginia surfaced a photo of Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin at a high school prom event called “An Oriental Occassion,” where white people dressed in traditional Asian garb.https://t.co/AxA2AcoVCz pic.twitter.com/ZTveUjEylY
— Ben Paviour (@BPaves) November 12, 2021
“Rice hats?” Geisha robes? Sandals? J’accuse, Glenn Youngkin!
Blue Virginia isn’t just a small publication; it has 17,400 followers on Twitter, similar to other partisan state outlets like Alpha News MN. It’s not just a liberal outlet, though; as mentioned in its mission statement, its goal is to get Democrats elected.
And this is what they think qualifies as a scandal.
So, let’s get several things out of the way here. First, going to a dance with “An Oriental Occasion” theme is different than appearing in blackface because, oh, I don’t know, one’s a dance where Youngkin is appearing in a tuxedo and the other is a yearbook photo featuring a Klansman and a person in blackface. Both are from roughly the same era, and one was considered far more offensive than the other by almost everyone.
Furthermore, Northam was in medical school when his yearbook scandal took place. Youngkin was in high school. There’s a distinct difference in terms of culpability when it comes to someone not yet in college and someone in their mid-20s participating in an academic program that allows them to become a doctor — in this case, a pediatric neurologist.
And, as one person pointed out on Twitter:
— Skye Riggleman (@SkyesThe_limit) November 13, 2021
Oh, and by the way, one of Blue Virginia’s editors eventually did speak to someone on the McAuliffe campaign — spokesman Jake Rubenstein — who said they vetted “Youngkin’s yearbooks, but that for whatever reason(s), this story never appeared in the media, was never tweeted out, etc.”
Maybe because Youngkin was in his late teens and did nothing wrong?
“As I said to Jake Rubenstein, I’m just completely baffled as to how this story didn’t come out during the campaign. Sure, it’s POSSIBLE it might not have made a difference in the election, but it COULD have – we’ll never know now, and note that the election was VERY close, including for control of the VA House of Delegates, the AG race, etc.! – and it was certainly something Youngkin’s campaign would have used if the shoe had been on the other foot!” Blue Virginia’s update read.
That’s thoroughly unlikely, given how silly this is. The reason Northam’s yearbook mattered is that blackface had long been considered patently offensive by the time he did it in the 1980s. This kind of Asian stereotyping, while crude by today’s standards, still existed. If you don’t believe me, just watch John Hughes’ “Sixteen Candles.” That film manages to be far more offensive than this.
And what role did Youngkin play in deciding on the theme? None. He just showed up to his prom.
This is how desperate the Democrats are in the wake of what happened in Virginia — one of their media arms actually thinks this is somehow akin to Northam’s blackface scandal.
And they wonder why they lost.
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