— Brendan Ponton (@brendanponton) February 7, 2019
Last Thursday, the news broke that one of the most powerful politicians in Virginia – Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment (R) “was an editor for VMI yearbook filled with racist photos and slurs,” “including blackface.” As if that’s not bad enough:
On one page of the yearbook, a student poses in blackface, surrounded by others in costumes at a party. Another page features a photo of two men in blackface holding a football.
The N-word is used at least once, and a student listed as being from Bangkok, Thailand, is referred to with anti-Chinese and anti-Japanese slurs.
A blurb under one man’s picture says: “He was known as the ‘Barracks Jew’ having his fingers in the finances of the entire Corps.”
Again, Sen. Norment was an editor of this dumpster fire of racism and bigotry. So that’s bad enough. But wait, there’s more – and much more recent at that!
Now former students in a college course Norment taught at the William & Mary say that he routinely made racially insensitive and transphobic comments, forced students of color to defend Confederate iconography, and even defended the university’s defunct Brafferton Indian School that educated Native American kids — often without their family’s consent — in the 1700s.
After the news broke on Thursday, one former student who took Norment’s class in the fall of 2016 tweeted that the state senator had “spent 20 minutes fondly remembering how a fraternity on campus dressed as confederates and chained a student in blackface to a tree for the Homecoming Parade.”
On and on it goes. And Norment’s response to this?
ThinkProgress reached out to Norment’s office for comment on Friday. Jeff Ryer, press secretary for the Virginia Senate Republican Caucus, responded with an email that read: “Thank you for your inquiry. The Virginia Senate Republican Caucus does not recognize ThinkProgress as a professional news organization.”
Wow, what a comeback! So substantive and on point! So contrite! Yeah…no.
Anyway, since these two stories broke, including the ThinkProgress one by top-notch/professional reporter Josh Israel, I have seen a grand total of Z-E-R-O (nil, nada, none, zip) calls for Norment to step down as Senate Majority Leader. None from Republicans – the same people who have called en masse for Gov. Northam and AG Herring to step down. None from the corporate media – which also has written numerous editorials calling for Northam to resign. And most surprisingly, none from DEMOCRATS (at least that I’ve seen), the same people who called almost unanimously – and within hours – for Northam to step down after his “blackface”/KKK costume controversy broke.
Can we say MASSIVE double standard? In short, if you’re a Republican caught making racist/bigoted comments, even if those comments are in recent years or even RIGHT NOW (as in the case of Trump, almost every single day), nobody in the Republican Party (and hardly anyone in the corporate media or even in the Democratic Party) calls for you to resign. But if you are a *Democrat* and you did something racist even 20, 30, 40 years ago, pretty much everyone piles on.
Now ,just to be 100% clear: I’m absolutely NOT saying that people shouldn’t be called out for racism and bigotry. What I *am* saying is that Republicans should be called out *at least as strongly as Democrats. Why “at least as strongly?” Because, quite simply, individual Republicans not only say and do racist/bigoted things, their party *as a whole* has, for decades, pushed policies that harm people/communities of color (e.g., by suppressing the votes of blacks and other minorities; by waging a “war on crime” that disproportionately harms people/communities of color; by redistributing income to the wealthy and away from people/communities of color; etc.).
Yet, with the clearly racist (in both words and deeds) Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment (R) – who is also wildly corrupt, by the way – we get…silence, pretty much. Just as we get silence from most Republicans about Donald Trump, whose entire political career has been founded on stoking white grievance, bigotry intolerance, anger, etc. And just as we mostly got silence about neo-Confederate Corey Stewart (R) last year, even as he ran one of the most overt, disgusting campaigns of white supremacy in modern-day Virginia history.
So again, what is going on here? I get why Republicans haven’t called for Norment’s resignation, as they probably agree with the guy (or at least don’t particularly disagree with him), plus he’s on their “team.” But what about the corporate media? And most bafflingly, what about DEMOCRATS? Shouldn’t this one be an absolute no-brainer? What am I missing here???
UPDATE: Looks like one Democrat, a candidate for House of Delegates (Mavis Taintor) has called on Norment to step down. Good – now we need every other Democratic elected official and candidate in the state to do the same!