BY EARL H. TILFORD
Late breaking news on Friday, February 1 revolved around a supposed 1984 medical school party photo of Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam depicting a man in blackface accompanied by a shorter person, likely a female, in an outfit unmistakably resembling a Klansman. On Saturday, Governor Northam denied he’s in the photo, taken responsibility for appearing in blackface on another occasion when he performed a Michael Jackson skit, and asked that he be judged on his current record rather than misdeeds 36 years ago. As of the weekend, he’s not resigning.
On Thursday January 31, the controversy involved Governor Northam, a medical doctor, and his support for a proposed Virginia law allowing for late term abortions to include procedures during or immediately after delivery in which the newborn is deemed non-viable or likely to be physically/mentally “challenged.” Many call this infanticide.
While the American public divides almost 50-50 on abortion after the first trimester, the percentage favoring second or third term abortion drops dramatically to low-double digits for the latter. The far left overwhelmingly embraces abortion at any point in pregnancy up to and including delivery. The remainder of the “right to choose” cohort, especially with Democrats smelling blood in water come November 2020, won’t argue the issue and definitely don’t want the controversy. Playing the race card, however, is a reliable and oft-used tactic for Democrats and dubbing Republicans “bigots” a given. The few remaining moderate to middle-of-the-road Democrats won’t object to offering Northam up as a scapegoat and many Republicans, cringing at the potential ramifications of any hint of racism, will not protest his possibly unfair treatment. After all, in the recent election Northam painted his Republican opponent a racist associated with events in Charlottesville in 2017 involving white nationalists and the removal of Confederate memorials.
On the other hand, the past is what it was and youth are notoriously unwise. Bringing my trained intelligence officer’s eye into focus, I see in the photo a smaller figure a full head shorter than the person in blackface and with much smaller hands accoutered in a fairly accurate facsimile of a second era KKK robe and hood. The crudest part of the attire is the completely conical hood covering the face. The disguise totally obscures this Klansperson’s gender suggesting it quite possibly was a woman, maybe the fellow in blackface’s date. While both costumes are in bad taste, contextually this was a costume party. At about the same time, my wife and I attended a Halloween party, her as a garbage man and me as a sack of trash.
Prior to penning this editorial, I looked through four copies of the Corolla, my University of Alabama annuals from 1965 through 1969 covering the five years I spent there as a student. On page 319 of the 1968 Corolla, in a section depicting students at play, we find an entire sorority dressed in pointed caps and gowns entertaining candidates during rush week. Charitably, we might say they were elves. While Tuscaloosa wasn’t home to elves, a mile up University Boulevard in downtown T-Town was the Imperial Headquarters of the United Klans of America. On page 359 there’s a company of Confederate officers accompanied by southern belles in hoop skirts watching members of the Kappa Alpha fraternity read the April 1861 “Proclamation of Secession” before firing a cannon to kick off the fraternity’s annual Sharecropper’s Ball. Across the spread, Kappa Alphas in Scottish kilts and sashes twist the night away. The 1969 Corolla Greek section opens with a two-page spread depicting two ersatz Playboy bunnies. Princess Pocahontas struts in the homecoming parade on page 332. Forty pages along, a young woman I dated appropriates Polynesian culture dressed in a grass skirt with leis while she performs a hula on the porch of the Phi Mu house. It was the Sixties. We were young. We did fun, often stupid stuff.
The hypocrisy of this controversy overwhelms. The statistical rate for abortion among African-Americans is higher than any other racial cohort. The figures are even more alarming in the south where white and black evangelical Protestants, a huge majority of Roman Catholics to include African-Americans, along with an enormous contingent of Hispanics oppose abortion. Democrats’ support for a woman’s right to choose is unshakable even below the Mason-Dixon where, eighty-five years ago, adherents to the rising ideology of German National Socialism explored racial policies, including population control by sterilization and abortion. Back then Nazis were just getting started…just saying ANTIFA!
The Northam issue conveniently shifts the argument from abortion to race. It does so confident all Democrats will acquiesce and anyone who doesn’t, especially Republicans, will demure lest they be tainted by charges of racism. This is demagoguery exemplifying hypocrisy.
Self-Educated American Contributing Editor, Dr. Earl H. Tilford is a military historian and Fellow for the Middle East & Terrorism with The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College. He currently lives in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. A retired Air Force intelligence officer, Dr. Tilford earned his PhD in American and European military history at George Washington University. From 1993 to 2001, he served as Director of Research at the U.S. Army’s Strategic Studies Institute. In 2001, he left Government service for a professorship at Grove City College, where he taught courses in military history, national security, and international and domestic terrorism and counter-terrorism.