An apology is not enough: Ralph Northam and Justin Fairfax must resign


Gianna Jirak, Fashion and Lifestyle Editor

Calls from Democrats to resign and protests outside of the governor’s mansion have plagued Virginia Governor Ralph Northam this weekend after the release of a yearbook photo of two people wearing black face and Ku Klux Klan robes. Initially, Northam admitted he was in the photo when it first came to light on Friday. He’s since rescinded his statement and claimed he was not one of the people in the photo, even though the photo appeared in his page of the yearbook. He said, “It was definitely not me, I can tell by looking at it.”

Image result for ralph northam yearbook photo


Northam has since admitted to “darkening his face with shoe polish” for a Micheal Jackson costume in 1984 when he was in the army. He claimed, “I look back now and regret that I did not understand the harmful legacy of an action like that.” In 1984 Northam was twenty-five, and definitely old enough to understand the photo’s “harmful legacy.” That statement, combined with his yearbook photo, has resulted in protests upon protests, outside the Governor’s Mansion in Richmond, Virginia. These protests are far from unwarranted.  The photo, even if Northam doesn’t actually appear in it, is still on his yearbook page by his choice. It’s undeniably racist and no apology, no redacted statement, no refusal to resign, can fix the harm he’s caused. A governor’s job is to represent all the people in their state, and any slight allegation of racism causes a schism between the governor and the people.

Virginia is in a bit of a gubernatorial crisis currently due to Ralph Northam’s photo, and Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax’s sexual assault allegations. Fairfax issued a statement on February 4 denying his abuse allegations, saying, “Does anybody think it’s any coincidence that on the eve of potentially my being elevated that that’s when this smear comes out?” Fairfax hinted that Levar Stoney, a 2021 Democratic nominee for governor has something to do with the allegations, Stoney has denied the claims. Fairfax’s denial, and its implications are damaging to himself. While the implications in the statement are that the allegations are only coming out now to ruin his chances of becoming governor due to Northam’s possible ousting, it is also adding to a harmful culture of men using excuses for why women are coming forward with their stories. Donald Trump and Brett Kavanuagh did the same thing to weaken their accusers’ allegations.

In light of this gubernatorial crisis, President Trump has weighed in on Twitter about Northam, “Democrat Governor Ralph Northam of Virginia just stated, ‘I believe that I am not either of the people in that photo.’ This was 24 hours after apologizing for appearing in the picture and after making the most horrible statement on ‘super’ late term abortion. Unforgivable!” Trump tweeted.

There have also been many comments from Democrats, most interestingly Corey Booker, saying, “I think we should be focusing on what’s right now happening with the governor. I know you guys are going to try to focus on a lot of things right now, but right now my focus is on again calling for the Gov. to step down.”

Booker’s claim, as the Washington Examiner said in their story about Fairfax, makes it seem like the Democrats care more about race over rape. While both are very important and controversial issues that need to be addressed, the Democrats should not be focusing all of their attention on ousting Northam. They need to launch an investigation into Fairfax’s allegation, not try and rush him into office. This scandal shouldn’t be strictly political, someone allegedly was assaulted and a member of our government is using racist images and has performed racist behaviors. This scandal needs to be about consequences and punishments, not getting a Democrat into office.