There is an old Chinese curse the English translation of which is “May you live in interesting times.” The implication of the curse, of course, is that it is better to live in seemingly dull and tranquil times, times in which little occurs that would threaten to upset the peaceful daily rhythm of the accursed’s life. Let us set aside for now the coincidence that it is a Chinese proverb that so aptly describes the state of our union in 2019; the not-so-drowsy dragon in the east that American trade policy has awakened is shaking off his communist slumber yet. Let us instead examine the latest example of the interesting times in which we Americans and others on these shores live, namely, l’affaire Northam, which unfolded last week.
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam began the week fending off charges that he supports legalized infanticide. In a radio interview that also was captured on camera, Governor Northam, a pediatric neurologist in his former life, appeared to defend the ancient Carthaginian practice while attempting to explain away testimony by Virginia Delegate Kathy Tran (D-Fairfax County) in support of her proposed bill that would allow abortion up to the moment of birth in some instances: “So in this particular example, if a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen. The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mothers.”
Facing much justified criticism from the political Right and other sentient human beings, the medical doctor-cum-governor elaborated further in the days that followed. In response to the question whether he regretted either the substance or the form of his explanation of Mrs. Tran’s testimony regarding the proposed bill, the man charged by the modern form of the Hippocratic Oath not to “play at God” doubled down: “No I don’t. I’m a physician. I’m also the governor. But when I’m asked questions a lot of the times it is put in the context of being a physician, again realizing how we approach, how we manage patients, how we offer advice and counseling, so no I don’t have any regrets.” Doctor-Governor Death went on to say that he regrets only “that those comments have been mischaracterized.”
I shall leave it to the discerning reader to judge whether his comments were, in fact, “mischaracterized.” For our purposes here it will suffice only to observe that not a single Democrat politician of note challenged Governor Northam’s explanation of Mrs. Tran’s proposed bill, while no one, Republican or Democrat, called for his resignation.
Unfortunately for the beleaguered governor, his interesting week was not finished. On Friday, photos from Governor Northam’s medical school yearbook in 1984 surfaced appearing to show the future governor either in blackface or wearing the notorious garb of the Ku Klux Klan. The backlash from the political Right was swift and overwhelming, and calls for his immediate resignation resounded. Some of these calls came from various notables in his own party. 2020 presidential hopeful Senator Kamala Harris (D-California) tweeted “Leaders are called to a higher standard, and the stain of racism should have no place in the halls of government. The Governor of Virginia should step aside so the public can heal and move forward together.” Another would-be president, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts), tweeted “These racist images are deeply disturbing. Hatred and discrimination have no place in our country and must not be tolerated, especially from our leaders — Republican or Democrat. Northam must resign.” Julian Castro, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary under President Obama who is considering a run at the presidency, tweeted “It doesn’t matter if he is a Republican or a Democrat. This behavior was racist and unconscionable. Governor Northam should resign.” Other politicos and members of the chattering classes, Left and Right, piled on.
What is most indicative of these interesting times in which we live are the responses these two incidents called forth. In the first, involving Governor Northam’s defense of legalized infanticide, only politicians and pundits on the Right offered resistance to such a ghoulish practice – which resistance, it must be noted, did not include calls for the governor’s resignation. In the second, involving a yearbook photograph from thirty-five years ago depicting the governor wearing either blackface or a Klan outfit at a party of some kind, politicians and pundits on the Right and Left immediately joined hands in denouncing the governor and calling for his resignation. Many on the Right commented, correctly, on the rank hypocrisy of a man who would don such offensive costumes repeatedly denouncing his political opponent as a “racist”, as Governor Northam shamelessly did in Virginia’s gubernatorial campaign just last fall.
Coming, however, as l’affaire Northam does, on the heels of a year involving outrageous trumped-up charges of sexual misconduct against now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh – charges which were based, in part, upon divining the meaning of commentary found in Justice Kavanaugh’s high school yearbook – it is clear where our ruling class’s priorities lie. In 2019 America, legalized infanticide simply does not move the needle, as it were, among our ruling elite in both parties nearly as much as what forms of crimethink they might discover in decades old yearbooks. And that fact is, to say the least, interesting.