Fairfax. Photo: Flickr
The Democratic Party is facing a serious problem in Virginia where three top Democrats, Governor Ralph Northam, Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax, and State Attorney General Mark Herring all face potential career-ending scandals.
Governor Northam and Attorney General Herring are both embroiled in scandals regarding their use of blackface: a racist practice portraying demeaning depictions and distortions of African-Americans, similar to negative images characteristic of minstrel shows.
Lt. Governor Fairfax, an African-American in line to become governor were Northam to resign, suddenly has a serious problem: he has been accused, by two women, of sexual assault. Both say they are ready to testify. Virginia Democrats are calling for Fairfax’s impeachment. Fairfax has called for an investigation into the allegations against him.
Democrats would be wise to do due diligence and fully investigate the charges. Hypocritical Republicans, who never investigated the credible charges of rape and sexual assault against now Supreme Court Judge Brett Kavanaugh, against Judge Roy Moore—or, against Donald Trump—have zero moral standing to give advice to Democrats. Republicans need to clean up the stinky sexism and rancid racism that characterizes their party.
Last Friday, another accuser, Meredith Watson, stepped forward alleging that Fairfax had raped her in 2000 when both attended North Carolina’s Duke University. Fairfax denies this accusation. Democrats called for his resignation after Watson’s allegation.
Virginia Democrat Patrick Hope said Fairfax will be impeached if he doesn’t resign. Fairfax has said he will not resign amid increased pressure on Democrats to act against him, since Ms. Watson is the second woman to accuse him of sexual assault. Fairfax was accused of forcible oral sex by Dr. Vanessa Tyson early last week. Dr. Tyson stated the alleged assault occurred in Fairfax’s hotel room during the 2004 Democratic party convention.
These two charges of sexual assault emerging against Lt. Governor Fairfax have many calling for him and Governor Northam, and State Attorney Herring to all resign.
This mess in Virginia started when a published picture—on the partisan propaganda right-wing website Big League Politics—surfaced showing two men: one wearing blackface and one dressed up in KKK regalia. Governor Northam was accused of being the man wearing blackface a charge he initially apologized for saying, “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.”
But the next day, in a bewildering Saturday press conference, Northam denied he was in the blackface KKK picture saying, “I am not the person” and “it’s not me” in the picture. He maintained he was “very certain today, not so yesterday” that he was not in the photo.
In an added whacky twist, he said he’d used blackface before, just not in the photo in question. Northam claimed he used blackface to win a contest where he dressed up as Michael Jackson. This all apparently happened in 1984.
In the aftermath of Governor Northam’s blackface KKK picture, State Attorney General Herring admitted he’d at least once dressed in blackface as well. He claimed in 1980 he and “some friends” dressed up “like rappers we listened to at the time, like Kurtis Blow, and perform a song.” State Herring correctly stated how “ridiculous” that transgression was and he talked about the “ignorance and glib attitudes” of himself and his White friends.
The Virginia Democrats’ problems now go beyond the backlash to the blackface outrage. Their problems have been compounded by the criminal sexual assault charges against Fairfax. In the era of the Me-Too Movement, Democrats have adopted a zero-tolerance policy against sexual assault.
This stance is both politically—and ethically—smart, especially if Democrats expect the continued support of women voters. Unfortunately, because of this Democrats have, perhaps, prematurely asked for the resignations of Democrats accused of sexual misconduct and assault without due process. Democrats must reverse this instinct to automatically ask for resignations without appropriate investigations.
For centuries now, the racist patriarchal nature of America has allowed rape culture to be inculcated deeply into the fabric of this country. Black women have been the primary victims starting even before their forced submission as breeders of Black babies to continue the institution of Slavery. This is a fact White feminism has failed to articulate. Patriarchy must be challenged and defeated; yet, recall that 53 percent of White women voters decided pussy-grabber Donald Trump was a better candidate than Hillary Clinton.
Too many Black men have adopted some of the worst criminal misogynistic tendencies of White male patriarchy. Black men would do well to research the ancient thriving matriarchal empires of Africa to purge themselves of White Western male anti-women attitudes that were anathema to Africans.
Indeed, it is correct for the Democratic Party to champion the rights of women, Black people, and other minorities. However, the Democratic Party must do this in a prudent manner by following due process. The removal of former Michigan Representatives John Conyers and former Minnesota Senator Al Franken are two cases in point.
On December 5, 2017, Representative Conyers resigned after serving 50 years in Congress, in the wake of allegations that he had sexually harassed female staffers and had used congressional funds for hush-money payments. Conyers, who had an exemplary record of dedicated service, including on women’s issues, resigned after the Democratic leadership asked him to do so.
Two days after Conyers’ resignation, on December 7, 2017 Minnesota Senator Al Franken announced he would officially resign on January 2, 2018, because several accusers said he engaged in sexual misconduct and assault. One accuser, Leeann Tweeden, said Franken forcibly kissed her in 2006 USO tour. Another, Lindsay Menz, said Franken touched her buttocks during a photo-shoot.
Unfortunately, neither Congressman Conyers or Senator Franken were fully investigated. Most victims of a crime often state they want their “day in court.” Following this principle of due process increases transparency and fairness for all parties in the process.
In some cases, the overwhelming nature of the evidence—for example, incriminating tapes released publicly—may make an investigation unnecessary. Here calls for resignation before an investigation maybe appropriate.
Because of the important stance of the Me-Too Movement, White patriarchy and misogyny is now being challenged. Several men have had their careers ended because of their abuses of women. America should have a zero-policy against sexual misconduct.
Now let’s be clear here: the women accusing Mr. Fairfax have credible evidence, including witnesses, on their side. However, prudent policy dictates Democrats fully investigate the charges against Mr. Fairfax before introducing articles of impeachment.
Investigating sexual assault allegations fully must become a primary principle of zero-tolerance.
One of the mantras that has arisen because of Me-Too is the phrase “I believe the women,” because female victims of sexual violence have often not been believed. Unfortunately, some seem to think by asking for investigations this signals doubt for the accusations of women. This notion is misguided—and is encouraging political operatives to use the Me-Too phenomena for their advantage.
We must also adopt zero-tolerance of racism.
It doesn’t take much to see Republicans are trying to use the political scandals surrounding Fairfax, Northam and Herring to take control of the executive branch of Virginia. Let’s not forget the controversies here unraveled after the right-wing partisan publication Big League Politics posted the blackface KKK photo presumably of Governor Northam.