Step one: Fairfax resigns as Lieutenant Governor — tomorrow. Step two: Northam appoints Jennifer McClellan to take his place — pending the special election that would follow in November. Step three — Northam resigns and leads her November election campaign. Which she wins.
Not to say this isn’t a tragedy.
If we can’t welcome the racially tone deaf who become enlightened (and homophobes who become equal rights advocates, terrorists who become anti-terrorists) . . . where are we? And there’s so much good to say about Ralph Northam and Justin Fairfax. (Plus, we don’t know Fairfax is guilty, though it seems likely.)
But it doesn’t matter. Both men should do what’s best for the greater good — and be applauded when they do.
Meanwhile: have you read James Comey’s essay on blackface and Confederate monuments? (Thanks, Glenn!)
I’ll bet that, like me, you had never heard of James Longstreet.
Comey makes a wonderfully clear, concise case. It begins:
White people designed blackface to keep black people down, to intimidate, mock and stereotype. It began during the 19th century and wasn’t about white people honoring the talent of black people by dressing up to look like them. It was about mocking them and depicting them as lazy, stupid and less than fully human. It was a tool of oppression. As a college kid in Virginia during the 1980s, I knew that and so did my classmates. But a whole lot of white people seem to not know that history or understand why blackface is so offensive, whether it’s practiced by a college student or a new doctor. The turmoil in Virginia — where I have lived most of my adult life, including nine years in Richmond — may do some good if it reminds white people that a river of oppression runs through U.S. history, deep and wide, down to today. . . .
. . . Expressing bipartisan horror at blackface photos is essential, but removing the statues would show all of America that Virginia really has changed.
If you have time, read the middle.