Virginia’s scandal: party should not decide who gets a pass

Ian Nathan

Virginia, the state that has some of the richest history this nation has to offer, is currently imploding.

What was once regarded as a noble and sane state has recently become the poster child for political destruction.

In the span of a week, Gov. Ralph Northam has been shown donning blackface in his medical school yearbook,  Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax has been accused of sexual assault twice and Attorney General Mark Herring has admitted to wearing blackface during his college years.

To add another layer, in reports from a February Wall Street Journal article and another February Washington Examiner article, the governor is not stepping down, and it turns out the Washington Post received word about Fairfax’s actions a year ago directly from one of the sexual assault victims, Dr. Vanessa Tyson.

Not only does this raise concerns of hypocrisy among politicians, but it also raises concerns about extreme bias within news media, both Republican-affiliated and Democrat-affiliated sources.

The Washington Post received two sexual assault allegations that were connected to high-ranking political figures, according to a Washington Examiner report. One allegation focused on Fairfax, a Democrat, the other allegation focused on Brett Kavanaugh, the well-known conservative Supreme Court Justice.

We all heard about the actions Kavanaugh allegedly committed, but nobody heard a word of Dr. Tyson’s story until recently. The Washington Post acknowledged this and stated that they were waiting for fact checks, but why didn’t they fact check the Kavanaugh allegation before printing out mass amounts of articles.

Lucky for Fairfax, the allegations arose when Virginia was holding its elections last year. It was the election cycle that was destined for a Blue Wave in 2018, according to many Democrats. Virginia turning blue would have marked the beginning of the end for Republicans.

If allegations of sexual assault were to arise against any candidate during an election cycle, it is obvious those allegations could cost the candidate the winning vote. It makes sense why a news source, the Washington Post in this case, would avoid printing a story that would potentially jeopardize its affiliated party in a key election.

As for Gov. Northam, he was pictured in blackface yet continuously denied it was him in the picture, even though he admitted it was him the day the picture was leaked. He was called to step down from his position by both parties and still to refused to do so.

Amazingly, this was the first time in a situation regarding a political figure under scrutiny in recent years that I heard sympathy for the alleged figure from more than one news source.

It is true that newscasters defended Kavanaugh while he was under investigation. Guests on Fox News explained how Kavanaugh was being targeted in order to prevent a Republican majority in the Supreme Court.

However, guests on CNN, MSNBC and Fox News defended Fairfax and Northam against their allegations.

Many newscasters claimed Northam has grown up and is not the same man as he was in the photo. As for Fairfax, conclusions should wait until all the facts are known.

Apparently, we should not hold leaders accountable for their past nor should we jump to conclusions, even though President Donald Trump’s past was scrutinized, before all the facts were known, by the New York Times, CNN, MSNBC and other news sources.

People can argue “well, it was a different time,” or “to assume guilt is to go against the purpose of our legal system,” but those arguments didn’t hold up when Trump and Kavanaugh were under investigation for sexual assault.

If the past should be forgotten, then forget it. To pick and choose who to forgive and who to criticize simply leads to a lack of validity over time via bias.

To my knowledge, Trump had no sympathizers within the liberal media when his past actions came to surface. I believe Kavanaugh also received little sympathy. Actually, both Trump and Kavanaugh received harsh backlash.

Although I understand how the actions of a governor, lieutenant governor and an attorney general may not demand a march on Washington, they do deserve scrutiny.

Instead, a prominent news source helped one of them cover the story up, and the other had a strong number of supporters within the media who accepted his change of heart.

I waited patiently for students to begin talking about the current state of Virginia, but it is as if nothing happened. Nobody on campus has discussed any of the officials currently under investigation.

The lack of conversation could be from the fact that it is not a national issue, the College of Arts and Sciences is currently eroding, or simply that nobody really cares. All of those explanations are recognizable but, Virginia’s turmoil is highlighting what is wrong with American politics, and very little has been discussed.

It is a volatile time for our country, but one would think that within a progressive institution such as UVM, the topic of a public official wearing blackface or receiving two sexual assault allegations would start a conversation.

Although it is from a state not many students know about, it encompasses a subject many feel passionate about.

No articles have been written, no social media buzz has occurred, it seems as if the guilty officials are off the hook at UVM, I dare say, because they picked the right party to affiliate with or because it is not Trump and the Republicans who are under the microscope.

Sadly, the politicians that adhere to our political opinions get a pass on behaviors that should never be tolerated while those who do not support our opinions become satanic creatures when they act similarly.

If we choose to accept the past actions of public leaders, Republican or Democrat, then we can’t scrutinize them for their pasts when it is convenient for our political beliefs.