‘Nobody thinks Northam must be blamed for his ancestral sins, but it’s worth asking: does he know that his great-grandfather was a violent supremacist?’
(Ben Sellers, Liberty Headlines) As several powerful voices on the Left have recently resurrected the controversial call for slavery reparations, their own relationships with privilege, minority exploitation and a legacy of racism must now face serious scrutiny.
Democrats have long been accused of fostering a “plantation mentality,” in which an elitist upper-crust of wealthy 1-percenters maintains a power structure of benevolent paternalism over its happy subjects through the illusion of egalitarianism and a promise of free stuff.
The past criticisms of a Democrat plantation mentality—from conservative minority voices like Fox News’ Stacey Dash, ‘Blexit’ advocate Candace Owens and even rapper Kanye West—struck such a nerve that outlets like The New York Times and The Washington Post have felt obliged to derisively dismiss them with lofty “I’m rubber, you’re glue” arguments.
Note: If the embedded video fails you can see on YouTube: “How to Escape the Democrat Plantation (an easy guide).”
In a poignant piece last week, National Review and Liberty Headlines contributor Deroy Murdock was the latest to turn the mirror back on progressives, laying out the long history of Democratic oppression from the party’s inception in the 1830s until the 1970s, when Democrats in Virginia continued their efforts to close schools in defiance of integration, and even into the modern era with their refusal to allow school-choice vouchers for underprivileged students.
While they used their powerful megaphones to voice support for the movement as part of their socialist plan to bankrupt America, Murdock—who is black—took the opportunity to make his case that the Democrats alone owed restitution if anyone did.
Harris is a second-generation immigrant of Indian and Jamaican heritage—both of her parents having been highly-skilled scholars in their fields when they arrived in the U.S.
Although she identifies as African–American, the fact that Harris’s lineage was never subject to the oppression of U.S. slavery (Jamaican slavery notwithstanding) opens up one of the great holes in the so-called debate over reparations: With few ancestry records and poor documentation maintained during slavery—and after waves of subsequent immigration in the intervening 150-plus years—who would be responsible for determining what was owed to whom?
Moreover, in the case of Warren, whose own fraudulent exploitation of minority status has become a defining campaign issue, the notion that innocent taxpayers should make amends for her sins—and simultaneously risk doling out errant funds to hucksters like her—is particularly galling.
Nowhere, however, is the true nature of Democratic hypocrisy better manifested than in Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam. His recent—and ongoing—racism scandal proves that even someone who is both personally and historically culpable of supporting black oppression can dodge direct accountability by embracing the plantation mentality.
Northam: A Figurehead for Hypocrisy
When a page from Northam’s 1984 medical school yearbook surfaced in early February, revealing a photograph that likely showed him wearing blackface alongside a friend in Ku Klux Klan regalia, Northam first apologized and then recanted, denying he was in the picture.
Despite the calls to step down, Northam refused. Meanwhile, Virginia’s two other top Democratic leaders, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax and Attorney General Mark Herring flouted rape and blackface scandals of their own, respectively. (Northam, in a separate episode, also acknowledged using blackface while paying tribute to Michael Jackson.)
But a Washington Post poll (relying on dubious methodology) suggested that a majority of black Virginians continued to support Northam by a more than 20 percent margin over those who thought he should resign.
After taking to the sewers for a few weeks (i.e. literally using underground tunnels beneath the state capital of Richmond to stay out of sight), Northam resurfaced, declaring that he’d had an epiphany and would use the remaining three quarters of his term to pursue a much more aggressively radical agenda than what he ran on. One of his guiding texts, he said, would be Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “The Case for Reparations.”
Shortly thereafter, black activists in the state—including a Charlottesville city councilor largely credited with fomenting the tensions that resulted in the city’s tragic August 2017 demonstrations—moved to leverage the governor’s compromised position by making extreme, extortionist demands for policy and budgetary concessions.
Even those with little stake in the black cause—such as former Vice President Al Gore, whose father had helped filibuster the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for 74 days straight—pounced on the opportunity to invoke racism in a bid to prevent a fossil fuels pipeline, which would have created jobs in a historically black community, from passing through Virginia.
Northam’s only true lesson from it all seems to have been that playing for the “right” team—the one that panders to identity politics—with promises he is unprepared to keep (the state legislature still has a Republican majority) means taking no real responsibility for his actions.
The Roots of Plantation Paternalism
Last week, Northam’s wife, Pamela, was criticized for insensitivity after passing out cotton to black teenagers during an educational tour of the governor’s mansion.
At the same time, Spectator USA‘s J. Arthur Bloom reported that the governor’s family had owned a staggering 84 slaves at least, with three of his four grandparental lines coming from slaveholders.
A preview, perhaps, of what was to come, Northam, during his run for governor, gaslighted the public about his ancestry by pleading ignorance in the face of indisputable evidence, claiming he only learned about it in 2017.
“In all three cases, the Northam descendant a generation below the owner listed in the census records—Northam’s great-grandparents—probably would have grown up around their father’s slaves also,” wrote Bloom. “Is it really plausible that the family did not talk about any of this before 2017?”
In one case, Jethro Riddick Franklin, a maternal great-great-grandparent of the governor’s, owned 29 slaves—more than half of whom were children as young as 3—according to the 1860 census.
Another of Northam’s great-grandfathers, in fact, was a white-supremacist militant.
“Nobody thinks Northam must be blamed for his ancestral sins, but it’s worth asking: does he know that his great-grandfather was a violent supremacist?” said Bloom. “Did that affect his decision as a boy [in his senior year of medical school] to apparently stand either in blackface or a KKK robe?”
However, if Northam, himself, is declaring that the taxpayers in his state and elsewhere in the country must be held accountable for the sins of the past, it’s also worth asking how much he personally should be on the line for.