Virginia’s Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam played his white privilege card in defying calls to resign over his connection to a racist photograph—just like Iowa’s GOP Rep. Steve King has successfully done for many years.
Northam ignored demands to step down from members of his own party during a press conference on Saturday, the Washington Post reported.
On Friday, he apologized for appearing in a photograph of a person dressed in blackface and another person in a Ku Klux Klan robe from his 1984 medical school yearbook. The governor now denies that he was one of those people in the picture but admitted to applying black shoe polish to his face for a Michael Jackson dance competition.
“Last night I finally had a chance to sit down and look at the photo in detail,” Northam stated. “It is not me.”
Virginia’s two U.S. senators, Democrats Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine, and the state’s congressional delegation leader, Rep. Bobby Scott, also a Democrat, called on Northam to resign after the news conference.
The state’s legislative Black Caucus added their voices, “We amplify our call for the Governor to resign. Our confidence in his ability to govern for the over 8 million Virginians has been eviscerated.”
But it appears that Northam will follow the playbook written by King, who has a racist history and has ignored calls for his resignation.
In King’s latest racist moment, he defended white nationalism.
“White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive? Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?” he asked the New York Times in an interview published on Jan.10.
In response to growing pressure to finally reprimand King, GOP House leaders—after years of looking the other way—removed the Iowa Republican from the Judiciary and Agriculture Committees.
Republicans—many of them who also have their own history of racism—have indulged King’s bigotry partly because of their racist base.
King’s white privilege was on full display when he returned home Jan. 26 for a town hall meeting with constituents. He was applauded at his first public event after House Republicans gave him a slap on the wrist. King told his constituents that he’s not a white supremacist, and they agreed.
No doubt, Northam–like King–has plenty of support from white constituents who are willing to give him a pass.