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2 Feb, 2019 23:10

‘Wasn’t me, I wore blackface on another occasion’: Virginia gov backpedals on yearbook photo scandal

‘Wasn’t me, I wore blackface on another occasion’: Virginia gov backpedals on yearbook photo scandal

Ralph Northam, who is under pressure to resign as governor of Virginia over an offensive photo from his yearbook, denied he was either of the two men shown in the picture. A day earlier he said otherwise.

In a stunning turnaround on Saturday, Northam retracted his words from a day earlier, when he apologized for a “decision to appear” as he did in the photo. Unearthed by conservative news outlet Big League Politics and picked up by the mainstream media, the picture shows two men, one in blackface and another sporting a KKK robe.

Also on rt.com ‘R’ is for... Democrat? CNN labels Virginia governor ‘Republican’ in segment on KKK photo

Standing alongside his wife on Saturday, Northam reiterated that he was “appalled” that the image was included in his yearbook page. However, he insisted that he had no recollection of the picture being taken and believed he was not in it, contrary to what he said on Friday.

“I believed then and now that I’m not either of the people in that photo,” he said. He stressed that his U-turn is not an attempt to avoid responsibility.

Northam admitted that many would “find this difficult to believe,” as the photo did appear on his own page in the 1984 Eastern Virginia Medical School yearbook. He said that when he conceded that he was one of the two men, he thought it was “the most likely explanation.”

READ MORE: Virginia governor admits to KKK/blackface yearbook photo, refuses to resign

In the hours that I made my statements yesterday, I reflected with my family and classmates from the time and I formed my conclusion that I am not the person in that photo.

The governor offered a crafty argument on why his recollection should be trusted, saying he clearly remembers donning blackface on another occasion the same year. Northam said that he has “a vivid memory” of wearing blackface to impersonate Michael Jackson in a dance concert which he subsequently won.

In one cringe-worthy moment of the press conference, Northam was seemingly prepared to repeat his award-winning moonwalk when asked by a journalist if he still has it in him. His wife stopped him, saying the circumstances were inappropriate for it.

The awkward episode was instantly lambasted by people on Twitter, including President Donald Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr, who argued that it would have put the nail in the coffin of any Republican’s career.

The Democratic governor drew bipartisan condemnation for his yearbook faux pas, with both Republicans and Democrats calling for his immediate resignation. However, Northam, who was elected governor in a tightly contested race in 2017, refused to budge.

He stood by his refusal on Saturday, saying that he intends “to continue doing the business of Virginia” despite the growing outrage over the “racist,” “offensive,” and “disgusting” photo.

Since 1984, the red lines of political correctness have shifted. What was then considered a rude joke is now a resignation-worthy offense – a fact that Northam cited in his defense.

“In the place and time where I grew up, many actions that we rightfully recognize as abhorrent today were commonplace,” Northam said. The comment, however, also seemed to add fuel to the fire of a raging Twitter debate.

Many argued that his press conference statements miss the point entirely, as he still wore blackface, per his own admission. So Northam’s attempt to moonwalk away from trouble may not be enough.

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