Think back over the past decade or two in Virginia and national politics, and consider the massively different reactions by Democrats and Republicans to racism and bigotry of various sorts in their parties. The latest example, of course, is Ralph Northam’s disgusting, virulently racist photos from when he was in medical school.
The reaction? Within hours, almost every progressive group and Democratic elected official (and candidate) called for Northam’s resignation. Because for Virginia Democrats, racism is not EVER acceptable, even – especially? – if it’s demonstrated by one of the top people in our party. In stark contrast, here’s how Virginia Republicans have reacted over the years to bigotry in THEIR party.
- In 2006, U.S. Senator (and former Governor) George Allen (R) didn’t just have his “macaca moment” of racism, he had several months of continued revelations that he had engaged in virulently racist behavior over many, many years. For instance, it came to light that “a former college football teammate of Sen. George Allen’s…confirmed details of a controversial hunting trip in the early 1970s, during which Allen is alleged to have placed a severed deer head in a mailbox that he believed to be owned by a black family.” It also turned out that Allen had a “long and cozy history with white supremacists,” including “an association with the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), the successor organization to the segregationist White Citizens Council and among the largest white supremacist groups.” Allen also demonstrated, er, “issues,” related to his own Jewish heritage, claiming that reporter Peggy Fox was “making aspersions” towards him by suggesting such a thing. Also note that when Allen was in High School in Southern California, he “drove a red Mustang with a Confederate flag license plate on the front” – and “Allen and his friends sprayed ‘racially tinged’ graffiti on their high school on the day the ‘almost entirely white Palos Verde High’ played a ‘mostly black inner-city school’ in basketball.” It goes on and on, and this is the key point: despite ALL of that massive, voluminous evidence of Allen’s racism/bigotry over many years, overwhelmingly Virginia Republicans stood by him. Can you think of even one Virginia Republican who did NOT stand by him in 2006? Did a single Virginia Republican call for George Allen to drop out of the U.S. Senate race against Jim Webb? To resign from the U.S. Senate? To not run for President, as he was planning to do? Nope, nope, and nope.
- Or how about Donald Trump, whose entire adult life has been filled with reams of racist behavior, including promotion of the disgusting, racist “birther” smear against Barack Obama? Or how about Trump’s years of misogyny and sexual predatory behavior? His bigotry towards Latino immigrants? His vicious mocking of people with disabilities? His anti-Muslim bigotry? His “both sides” false equivalency between white supremacists/neo-Nazis and those PROTESTING the white supremacists/neo-Nazis? His reference to Haiti and African nations as “shithole countries?” Given all this, have ANY prominent Virginia Republicans, let alone the Republican Party of Virginia, broken decisively and clearly with Trump? Called for his immediate resignation (as Dems have done with Ralph Northam)? Hmmm…thinking, thinking…not coming up with much if anything. Instead, we’ve seen Virginia Republicans stand by their man (Trump), defend him, act lie sycophants towards him, praise him, etc. Again – massive, glaring difference between Virginia Democrats – who within hours have almost unanimously called for Governor Northam to resign – and Virginia Republicans.
- Finally, consider the case of “neo-Confederate Corey” Stewart and his run for U.S. Senate last year. Again, how many Virginia Republicans outright rejected Stewart? Called for him to step down as the Republican nominee? Took moves to force him out? Anything? Even as Stewart spewed out hatred, bigotry, lunacy and vitriol 24/7? Again, can you even IMAGINE Virginia Democrats: a) having a nominee like that in the first place; or b) if we DID ever have a nominee like that for some bizarre reason, not seeing near-unanimous condemnation and demands by Virginia Dems for that person to drop out/resign?
So yeah, you’ll hear Virginia Republicans constantly trying to draw false equivalencies, or even claim that Democrats are the “real racists,” blah blah blah. In reality, if you look at the history of the last 10, 20 years in Virginia, you see a consistent, blatantly obvious difference between the two parties – Dems calling out and absolutely not tolerating racism or bigotry of any kind; Republicans accepting it, condoning it, or even applauding it. Can the moral chasm between these two parties be any clearer? I’d argue not.
P.S. One could also toss in virulent, anti-LGBT/anti-Muslim/etc. bigot E.W. Jackson, who was the Virginia Republicans’ 2013 nominee for Lt. Governor, and also a candidate for the party’s U.S. Senate nomination in 2018. And then there was Ed Gillespie’s race-baiting campaign for governor in 2017. The examples go on and on and on…