Yesterday, the Virginia General Assembly wrapped up its business for the 2021 Special Session. But before it did, Senate Minority Leader Tommy Norment (R) had a few things he apparently wanted to get off his chest. You can watch the video, below, and I’ll provide a few…uh…”highlights” (?) from his “soliquy” (sic; obviously the word is “soliloquy,” but Norment definitely has a history of mangling words – remember sh-PUTS-va?), as Norment called it. Anyway, there’s a lot of obnoxious or even offensive stuff in Norment’s blather. As Cindy of VAPLAN put it yesterday:
With that, here’s the video, followed by a few comments. Oh, and also keep in mind as you’re watching the video, that Norment is this same guy:
- BREAKING: Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment (R) Edited Yearbook “Filled with Racist Photos and Slurs”
- Video: Virginia Senate Minority Leader Tommy Norment (R) Mansplains to First Female Speaker in Virginia History How to Do Her Job
- VA Senate GOP Leader Tommy Norment Excoriates Young, Black Woman Speaking on Behalf of Poor Virginians At Risk of Having Their Utilities Cut Off (Norment says he’s voting against the bill because of the “lady”‘s “discourteousness”)
- Five Reasons Why Virginia Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment Hates News Media (“An affair, conflicts of interest and corporate donations dog him.”)
- After a year in which Democrats – who gained control of the Virginia General Assembly starting in January 2020 – passed a TON of badly needed progressive legislation, the vast majority of which Norment and his Republican caucus opposed, Norment clearly is not pleased. Which might help explain his comment: “I don’t think that I have during my legislative career ever seen such a period of…urgency to pass certain legislation…the term that came back to my mind [which I] learned in a military science class was called ‘precipitous intervention’ and what that means…is that things are done without careful investigation or comprehensive consideration.” Which is, of course, totally false; in fact, Democrats put a GREAT DEAL of consideration, investigation, etc. into their legislation, most of which Republicans had stymied for years. So…nope, Norment’s not actually upset about “precipitous intervention”; he’s upset that a slew of progressive and environmental bills passed in 2020, and that he and his right-wing reactionary caucus were powerless to stop almost any of it. Sad, eh?
- Norment, whose own personal history includes editing a yearbook “Filled with Racist Photos and Slurs,” then proceeded to lecture the State Senate about how harmful false accusations of racism – or of any crime, really – can be. What Norment was leading up to, in this case, was a defense of his alma matter, Virginia Military Institute (VMI), which is currently under scrutiny for the appalling racism, “Confederacy veneration,” etc. described in this article. Specifically, Norment appeared to be upset about something surrounding the VMI situation, including possibly Gov. Northam’s proposal for an additional $1 million to fund an independent investigation into the culture at the Virginia Military Institute” (although, in the end, Norment vote YES on that, so who the heck knows…). Oh, and Norment *really* didn’t like this letter – from Gov. Northam, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, AG Mark Herring, Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn, Senate President Pro Tempore Louise Lucas, Legislative Black Caucus Chair Lamont Bagby, Senate Finance & Appropriations Committee Chair Janet Howell and House Appropriations Committee Chair Luke Torian – ripping into VMI for its “clear and appalling culture of ongoing structural racism,” the “horrifying new revelations of threats about lynching,” etc.
- Norment’s defense of all this? Basically, to argue that the people who signed the letter included two – Gov. Northam, AG Herring – who had themselves been accused of wearing “blackface” when they were in med school and college – so basically they have no standing to say anything on this subject, apparently. That standard, of course, if applied to Norment himself, would mean that Norment’s not qualified to speak on this subject either. Details, detaails.
- Norment further claimed there was a rush to judgment in the cases of Northam, Herring, and also LG Fairfax when he was accused “of some vile crimes.” But what those cases have to do, exactly, with the VMI situation is not at all clear, other than Norment trying to distract attention from the topic at hand – hey, look over there! no, there! I mean there! bright shiny object!
- Norment also claimed that “some of the accusations and some of the factual recitations of things that happened at VMI were reviewed…and the Deputy AG was involved in them and signed off on them,” something Norment claimed not a single other member of the VA State Senate knew had happened. So…super super top-secret info, known only by Norment? Perhaps so, but it would be really helpful to see the evidence for this one. Regardless, it really doesn’t get at the overall issues regarding VMI, and what to do about them…
- Norment argued that the VMI Board of Visitors has already begun to take corrective measures, including taking down the Stonewall Jackson statue and investigating what needs to change at the school “from a cultural standpoint.” Which is fine, but then what’s Norment’s objection exactly to having an *independent* investigation?
- At two points in the speech, Norment appropriated the phrase often used by Black Lives Matter activists, “say his/her name!” In this case, Norment was referring to two Black graduates of VMI who are clearly brilliant and talented, and who apparently have gone on to great success, which is excellent to hear. But…why use Black Lives Matter’s “say his/her name” slogan like that? And no, it definitely wasn’t an accident, as Norment said it twice – and very pointedly each time.
- Weirdly, after all his outrage and “hyperventilating” (his word) and complaining, Norment seemed to be saying that he actually *supported* – or at least didn’t oppose – the independent investigation, and even looked forward to the results being made public. So then what’s the problem exactly, Sen. Norment?
- Finally, as Cindy pointed out in her tweet, Norment concluded by asserting, “we cannot let the media lynch VMI.” Which is, as Cindy pointed out, an “obscene use of that word,” but clearly one that Norment chose very intentionally. The question is why?