Oh My: Democratic Virginia AG Mark Herring Admits He Wore Blackface In College

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Posted: Feb 06, 2019 11:40 AM
Oh My: Democratic Virginia AG Mark Herring Admits He Wore Blackface In College

Source: AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

So, who hasn’t done blackface at the highest levels of state government in Virginia? In the span of less than a week, the entire Democratic administration running the state has collapsed over allegations of sexual assault and racist photos. Last Friday, Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam’s 1984 yearbook page from Eastern Virginia Medical School showed a racist photo, featuring two people in blackface and Klan attire respectively. Northam apologized and admitted he was in the photo, though he did not specify which person he was in the picture. Then, Northam retracted his apology and said that wasn’t him in the photo, but that he did engage in blackface while participating in a dance contest in San Antonio. He dressed as Michael Jackson. Virtually everyone in the Democratic Party has called for his resignation. Northam has refused instead choosing to dig in. While this is going on, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, also a Democrat, has been slapped with a sexual assault allegation from 2004, which he has strongly denied. Yet, the LG heavily insinuated that Northam’s people were behind the leak, as part of a ploy to keep him from ascending to the governor’s office. The Washington Post and other outlets had known about the allegation but refused to run it due to being unable to corroborate the story.

So, who’s left to take over is Fairfax and Northam can’t? Well, that would be Virginia’s Democratic gun-grabbing Attorney General Mark Herring. Herring tried to eviscerate Virginia’s concealed carry reciprocity laws in 2015, which prompted the state legislature to work out a deal with then-Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe on the matter. McAuliffe signed the pro-gun bills into law, which irked the anti-gun Left. And Herring has made it known that he was going to run for governor in 2021. Well, the rumor is that there’s a photo of him in blackface. He met privately with the legislative black caucus this morning to discuss the matter. And now, he’s admitted it. Herring said he darkened his face and dressed as a rapper in 1980 [emphasis mine]:

Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring today released the following statement:

"The very bright light that is shining on Virginia right now is sparking a painful but, I think we all hope, important conversation. The stakes are high, and our spirits are low.

"I am sure we all have done things at one time or another in our lives that show poor judgment, and worse yet, have caused some level of pain to others. I have a glaring example from my past that I have thought about with deep regret in the many years since, and certainly each time I took a step forward in public service, realizing that my goals and this memory could someday collide and cause pain for people I care about, those who stood with me in the many years since, or those who I hoped to serve while in office.

"In 1980, when I was a 19-year-old undergraduate in college, some friends suggested we attend a party dressed like rappers we listened to at the time, like Kurtis Blow, and perform a song. It sounds ridiculous even now writing it. But because of our ignorance and glib attitudes – and because we did not have an appreciation for the experiences and perspectives of others – we dressed up and put on wigs and brown makeup. 

"This was a onetime occurrence and I accept full responsibility for my conduct.

That conduct clearly shows that, as a young man, I had a callous and inexcusable lack of awareness and insensitivity to the pain my behavior could inflict on others. It was really a minimization of both people of color, and a minimization of a horrific history I knew well even then.

"Although the shame of that moment has haunted me for decades, and though my disclosure of it now pains me immensely, what I am feeling in no way compares to the betrayal, the shock, and the deep pain that Virginians of color may be feeling. Where they have deserved to feel heard, respected, understood, and honestly represented, I fear my actions have contributed to them being forced to revisit and feel a historical pain that has never been allowed to become history.

"This conduct is in no way reflective of the man I have become in the nearly 40 years since. 

"As a senator and as attorney general, I have felt an obligation to not just acknowledge but work affirmatively to address the racial inequities and systemic racism that we know exist in our criminal justice system, in our election processes, and in other institutions of power. I have long supported efforts to empower communities of color by fighting for access to healthcare, making it easier and simpler to vote, and twice defended the historic re-enfranchisement of former felons before the Supreme Court of Virginia. I have launched efforts to make our criminal justice system more just, fair, and equal by addressing implicit bias in law enforcement, establishing Virginia’s first-ever program to improve re-entry programs in local jails, and pushing efforts to reform the use of cash bail. And I have tried to combat the rise in hate crimes and white supremacist violence that is plaguing our Commonwealth and our country.

"That I have contributed to the pain Virginians have felt this week is the greatest shame I have ever felt. Forgiveness in instances like these is a complicated process, one that necessarily cannot and should not be decided by anyone but those directly affected by the transgressor, should forgiveness be possible or appropriate at all. In the days ahead, honest conversations and discussions will make it clear whether I can or should continue to serve as attorney general, but no matter where we go from here, I will say that from the bottom of my heart, I am deeply, deeply sorry for the pain that I cause with this revelation."

Herring had called on Northam to resign on February 2:

It is no longer possible for Governor Northam to lead our Commonwealth and it is time for him to step down. I have spoken with Lieutenant Governor Fairfax and assured him that, should he ascend to the governorship, he will have my complete support and commitment to ensuring his success and the success of our Commonwealth." 

If all three resign, a Republican would take over the governorship. There’s no way that’s going to happen. The entire leadership of the state is now marred in scandal. I know it’s many, many months away until the next legislative election, but this is great news for the Republican Party. The rot of this administration should reverberate down the ticket. And this is all because Northam pretty endorsed infanticide when his party tried to expand abortion rights up to the moment of birth in the legislature. It’s a bill proposal that was rejected. It’s now a total dumpster fire. And there’s a reason to celebrate.  

Also, given what Fairfax has reportedly said about his accuser, it doesn't sound like he has the right temperament for higher office.