During a question regarding policing in the southern state, Fairfax began pontificating on the historical ramifications of systemic racism, which often leads to state sanctioned violence.
“The murder of George Floyd was horrific,” Fairfax said. “But it recalls a history in Virginia and in our nation where African Americans, in particular African American men, are presumed to be guilty, are treated inhumanely, are given no due process and have their lives impacted, in some cases taken away in an instant.”
Fairfax, who remained lieutenant governor even in the midst of two sexual assault accusations, then categorized the way he was treated as a modern day lynching, going so far as to evoke Emmett Till and Floyd.
“Everyone here on the stage called for my immediate resignation, including Terry McAuliffe three minutes after a press release came out,” Fairfax said. “He treated me like George Floyd; he treated me like Emmett Till — no due process, immediately assumed my guilt. I have a son and a daughter. I don’t ever want my daughter to be assaulted, I don’t want my son to be falsely accused. And yet this is the real world that we live in.”
Fairfax’s assessment is particularly interesting for a variety of reasons. It harkens to Thomas’ infamous, yet lazy analogy where he claimed he too faced a lynching during his Supreme Court confirmation hearing after Anita Hill accused him of sexual misconduct.
“And from my standpoint as a black American, as far as I’m concerned, it is a high-tech lynching for uppity blacks who in any way deign to think for themselves, to do for themselves, to have different ideas, and it is a message that unless you kowtow to an old order, this is what will happen to you,” Thomas said to then Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Joe Biden. “You will be lynched, destroyed, caricatured by a committee of the U.S. — U.S. Senate, rather than hung from a tree.”
Fairfax believes he was once considered a promising leader in politics in the light of Governor Ralph Northam’s blackface scandal, but felt he faced unjust persecution after the accusations made headlines in 2019.
But comparing his experience to the definitive state sanctioned killings of two Black men whose deaths heightened the social justice movement, is troubling.
In the aftermath of the accusations made against him Fairfax remained boldly assertive that he did not engage in sexual misconduct against his two accusers, Vanessa Tyson and Meredith Watson. Tyson said Fairfax forced her to engage in oral sex in 2004, and Watson claimed that Fairfax sexually assaulted her in 2000 while they were both in college.
Fairfax also challenged Tyson and Watson to testify under oath and publicly engage in a lie detector test, a deeply troubling ask in terms of victims who have survived any type of trauma, let alone sexual violence. Sexual assault survivors are less likely to report the assault for different reasons: they feel a need to protect their alleged abuser because oftentimes it is someone they know, and their stories are rarely believed, especially when their accuser is someone in a prominent position. The issue is compounded as both of Fairfax’s accusers are Black women.
Fairfax’s admission that he was troubled over McAuliffe’s insistence that he step down and the media’s coverage of the accusations is nothing new. Fairfax admonished Gayle King over a CBS interview where she sat down with Tyson and Watson.
But he also fails to realize that even in the midst of it all, he’s still fielding donations, remains employed, and launched an effort to take on the biggest job in state politics, while Floyd and Till lost their lives and his accusers’ credibility were ripped to shreds.
So what exactly has he lost in the face of these accusations?