The Governor Ralph Northam affair
4 February 2019
Just about everything sordid and degraded in capitalist politics in America has been on display over the past few days in the media frenzy over Virginia Governor Ralph Northam. Virtually the entire Democratic Party establishment is now demanding Northam’s resignation, although he has so far resisted the pressure.
The firestorm broke following publication of photographs from Northam’s 1984 medical school yearbook page, showing two students, one in blackface and the other in a Ku Klux Klan costume. Initially, one of the two was believed to be Northam, and he issued a public apology on Friday.
On Saturday, however, Northam held a press conference at which he denied that he was either of the two students, although he could not explain why the clearly racist images were on his personal page in the yearbook, claiming only that he had never seen the yearbook before.
Northam went on to admit that on another occasion that same year, 1984, after joining the military as an Army doctor, he had worn blackface in a dance competition in Texas, in imitation of the entertainer Michael Jackson. At the time, Northam was 25 years old, a medical doctor and commissioned officer, so his actions cannot be dismissed on the grounds of youth and immaturity.
The yearbook photo surfaced as part of a right-wing campaign against Northam spearheaded by the internet publication Big League Politics.com, run by a former writer for the fascistic Breitbart News website. It followed a similar exposure of a right-wing Republican politician, Florida Secretary of State Michael Ertel, who resigned last week after his photograph in blackface from 2005 became public.
A few days after Ertel’s resignation, Northam became the target of ultra-right vilification for…