Northam Admits to Wearing Blackface, But Not in the Photo. But Why Does It Matter?


By any account, it’s been a rough weekend for the infanticide-supporting Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam — and a rougher week looks like it’s looming.

As Friday evening drew to a close, everyone had pretty much forgotten about his ghastly comments about abortion-at-birth and were instead focusing on the fact that he had a picture of a man in blackface and a man dressed as a Klansman on his 1984 medical school yearbook page.

At the time, Northam took full responsibility for appearing in the photograph: “I am deeply sorry for the decision I made to appear as I did in this photo and for the hurt that decision caused then and now,” he said.

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

Politicians across the nation, Democrats and Republicans alike, spent Friday night calling for Northam’s resignation. Saturday dawned, and that’s when things began getting truly bizarre.

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Do you think that Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam should resign?

So, just so we’re clear on where we were at this point on Saturday morning, according to Jonathan Martin of The New York Times: Gov. Northam apparently thought that appearing in blackface or as a Klansman is enough of an offense to warrant his resignation, but putting a photograph of said individuals in your yearbook entry isn’t. He also didn’t think that he was in the photograph he put in the yearbook.

I want you to keep all of that in mind, because it’s about to get important.

So stepping to the podium on Saturday afternoon, Northam claimed that the first time he saw the photo was when it was dredged up by the media and that it wasn’t him.

“When I was confronted with the image, I was appalled that it appeared on my page, but I believed then and I believe now that I am not either of the people in that photograph,” Northam said, according to Fox News.

“When my staff showed me the photo in question yesterday, I was seeing it for the first time.”

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Oh, OK.

The news conference continued: “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.

“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.”

… oh.

Northam said “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.” In other words, he knows he didn’t appear in blackface (or in a Klan outfit) in the yearbook photo because of that other time he appeared in blackface.

Why even call a news conference if this is your noisome story? Why not just pack up the governor’s mansion with all due haste, stuff the contents of your desk in the back of your Land Rover and simply wave to the reporters and yell “Tootles!” on the way out?

Please don’t get me wrong here. If it was Gov. Northam in the photo, I still don’t necessarily believe something someone did 35 years ago is necessarily a reason they ought to resign, even if it’s something as odious as this.

The reasons the Democrats are demanding his resignation is because of a) their position on Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s high school shenanigans, as apparently documented in his yearbooks, and the fact they viewed them as potential proof he was a sex offender and unfit for the court, and b) the fact that all this means Northam is now a poor ambassador for the pro-abortion agenda, which was the catalyst for the discovery of this yearbook in the first place.

Conservatives should still believe he should resign because he took to the radio airwaves and made comments that could be seen as generally supportive of infanticide; this is just further evidence he isn’t fit for the office.

If you’re a liberal and aren’t bothered by that sort of thing, however, you should still think Northam ought to resign, if just for practical reasons. The man has become a living lighting rod for charges of liberal hypocrisy.

This is the poorest excuse I’ve heard in eons from a sitting politician for past  misdeeds. This is a man who has appeared to lie about almost everything he’s touched since he became a national issue on Wednesday, yet his prevarications don’t evince the slightest hint of a self-preservation instinct about them.

He claims he knows he wasn’t in blackface in that photograph, which Jonathan Martin’s report seems to indicate the governor would consider to be an offense worthy of resignation, because he was in blackface at another point in the same year and “(y)ou remember these things.”

This isn’t even going into the fact that his yearbook at Virginia Military Institute lists his nickname as “coonman” or he’s had other troubling racially tinged incidents in his past.

Northam’s exculpatory evidence was akin to an accused murderer saying he wasn’t stabbing the victim he’s on trial for killing because he was stabbing someone else across town at the time.

I don’t know what the truth is regarding Northam and this profoundly offensive yearbook photograph, and nor does anyone else who’s speaking publicly at the present moment. I imagine we’ll know more as Gov. Northam’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week continues.

Ask yourself this, though: If you were on the jury, would you believe that accused murderer’s story? If not, then you shouldn’t believe Gov. Northam, either.

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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).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture