Calls for Governor Northam’s Resignation Cast Light on Broader Problem

I believe these calls for the resignation of Governor Northam are premature. We do not yet know all of the facts regarding the circumstances of the disgusting and now infamous picture brought to light Saturday featured in the Eastern Virginia Medical School. Until all of those facts come to light regarding that photo, I believe we must show restraint and instead focus on the facts that we do know.

We know that Governor Northam has spent a life in service. Whether it be to children as a pediatrician, fellow soldiers in the army, or to his constituents as a State Senator, Lieutenant Governor, and now as Governor. He has a public service record of standing up for and serving all Virginians regardless of race, creed, gender, or sexual orientation. A most recent example is Medicaid expansion, which went into effect at the beginning of the year, a credit to Governor Northam’s steadfast commitment to expanding the program so that it could serve many underprivileged Virginians of all races.

Until and unless these allegations are confirmed, let’s show restraint.

And in the meantime, let’s take the time to analyze a broader issue and problem, which I feel has the potential to be far more destructive than our public officials past err’s in judgment, no matter how deplorable.

As a society, we have observed a seemingly omnipresent tendency as human beings to rush to judgment, particularly in circumstances that are emotionally charged. This tendency, which we all face has been a recurring theme in the greatest miscarriages of justice throughout our nation’s history. It seems that it is too easy for us to fall into an information cascade that prematurely draws conclusions, and when those conclusions warrant degradation, it seems all too common that everyone is willing, if not happy to, get their turn to swing the proverbial kick. This tendency is dangerous, just as other tendencies of tribalism and nationalism, which we continually work hard to disarm. We face these seemingly hardwired tendencies and must consciously and continuously strive to identify and cast them away so that we as Virginians, Americans, and human beings can move closer to the just society of equality and equal opportunity we idealize.

As more information regarding the circumstances of the fore-mentioned images come to light, we can then make the determination as to whether Governor Northam is fit to continue to serve on behalf of the Commonwealth. But make no mistake, the circumstances that have ensued over the last 72 hours will have an enduring effect on Governor Northam, and I would expect will result in an enduring motivation to achieve greater and more accelerated progress in the commonwealth than what we might have seen otherwise. Redemption, whether it is founded on truth or perception, is a powerful motivating factor. I trust that in Governor Northam’s case, his redemption will be for ignorance in his youth to the abhorrent history of blackface. But until those facts are elucidated or potentially a greater sin is realized, I believe we should show restraint until all the information comes to light that will enable a more thoughtful and reflective verdict in the court of public opinion.

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