Rahm Emmanuel said “Never let a crisis go to waste.” The Virginia Democrats are in crisis. First it was blackface, then credible (and multiple) allegations of sexual assault. And now…a cotton ball.
(If you’re a Virginia Democrat, that is the LAST thing you want to see in a Washington Post headline).
The WaPo story is behind their paywall, so here’s the same story from the Virginian-Pilot:
“A Virginia state employee has complained that her eighth-grade daughter was upset during a tour of the historic governor’s residence when first lady Pam Northam handed a ball of cotton to her and another black child and asked them to imagine being enslaved and having to pick cotton.”
“‘The Governor and Mrs. Northam have asked the residents of the Commonwealth to forgive them for their racially insensitive past actions,’ Leah Dozier Walker, who oversees the Office of Equity and Community Engagement at the state Department of Education, wrote Feb. 25 to lawmakers and to the office of Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat.”
“‘But the actions of Mrs. Northam, just last week, do not lead me to believe that this Governor’s office has taken seriously the harm and hurt they have caused African Americans in Virginia or that they are deserving of our forgiveness,’ she wrote.”
Now, you’d have to have a heart of stone to not go into schadenfreude mode over this. Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit accuses the VA Dems and MSM of turning the GOP candidate, Ed Gillespie, into a virtual Stormfront figure during the gubenetorial campaign, while allowing Ralph Northam to paint himself as a racial healer. By all means, let the Virginia progressives lie in the bed they made.
Where our (i.e., the GOP’s) opportunity comes in—they can’t climb out of that bed. They’re stuck.
What leading Virginia Democrat or progressive has enough gravitas, and is untainted enough, to credibly seize control of the public discussion and steer the Virginia progressive community out of the swamp they’ve stuck themselves in? Not Ralph Northam. Not Justin Fairfax. And not Mark Herring, who has his own “blackface” problems.
The Virginia progressives are spinning wheels, like a rear-wheel drive car unable to climb out of the mud. They’re going silent. Reminds me of an SNL skit a few years ago. Three millenial couples met for dinner. They wanted to chat about current events, but couldn’t figure out a way to do it without running the risk of possibly offending someone. So they sat mute, uncomfortably staring at each other.
That SNL skit is akin to what’s happening in Virginia. Everyone’s staring at each other, not sure what to do next.
That silence is the GOP’s opportunity. Now is the time for Ed Gillespie, or other respected GOP voices, to speak up. (I’ll bet a lot of Virginians who were swayed by the WaPo-led racial slamming of Gillespie in the campaign, might be willing to give him a second listen now). They can have the floor, so to speak, because the VA Dems have (for the moment) abandoned it.
What should Gillespie, et.al say? Well…where to begin?
I’ll suggest one thing he could say: We need to give each other the benefit of the doubt. Does anyone really think that Pam Northam was trying to be racially insensitive when she handed the cotton balls out to those children? Aren’t we supposed to be talking to each other about race, so we can “heal” and come together. Well, seems to me that Pam Northam was trying. Some people may not like her methods—but NO people should reflexively jump to the worst possible conclusions about a matter, without having all the facts. (Cough cough Covington Catholic cough).
Before the African-American community jumps on Pam Northam with both feet, it might want to consider this: if a few people reach out to you, and you smack their hands, then don’t expect other people to reach out to you. They’ll avoid you, for self-protection if nothing else.
I, for one, perceive that at least some segments of the African-American community are not only hyper-sensitive on race, but hyper-hyper sensitive. So sensitive that…I don’t even want to bring up the subject of race with them. I not only fear, I feel pretty sure, that I’ll say something wrong, or I’ll do something that seems innocuous to me but is “hurtful” to them…and that will be it. I’ll be guilty, and the only question remaining will be the severity of my punishment.
No one is going to discuss a subject with you, if they fear they’ll run a risk by simply having that discussion. Race is one of those subjects.
If you really want Americans to come together, you can’t smack the hands that reach out to you. Perhaps Ed Gillespie could say that when he steps onto the empty stage in Virginia. I’ll bet a lot of people would not only listen—they’ll be grateful.