On Friday, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam apologized for appearing in a photograph that featured one person in blackface and another wearing the robe and hood of a terrorist organization that murdered thousands of African Americans, burned crosses on the lawns of petrified families, whipped up bigotry against Catholics and Jews, and systematically suppressed the civil rights of black voters for decades. The Democrat “did not say whether he was the man dressed in blackface or the one in a Klan robe and hood,” The Washington Post noted.
The photo dates back to 1984, when Northam graduated from Eastern Virginia Medical School. It was published on his yearbook page.
Calls for his resignation are widespread.
Every day for years, Americans have been bombarded with calls to be outraged about matters large, small, and absurd. Given our culture’s inability to reserve stigma for when it is most appropriate, fatigue is inevitable. But every so often, something actually warrants public opprobrium.
This is one of those matters.
The affair may stoke the pernicious impulse to dig into people’s distant past. Often, these public airings of old offenses harm innocent people and don’t help anyone at all.