Voters should not judge based on youthful follies


If we are honest with ourselves, most of us will admit to having done silly things in our early years. I remember in my pre-teenage years that a young friend convinced me to smoke two packets of cigarettes with him. We hid under a bush and smoked them one after another. My tee-totaling mother discovered my actions when she greeted me on my return home. The 'board of education' taught me a lesson I remembered for many years. We can all point to some form of stupidity as we grew up. Now, however, the early years of politicians and government candidates are coming under the microscope of political correctness.

Brett Kavanaugh was a recent example. He suffered a charge that in his high school years he conducted himself improperly. Many of those charges were not corroborated in his hearing for the Supreme Court nomination. However, he did admit to legally drinking beer in college as his yearbook indicated. Now the college yearbook of Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has also been made public. I am no fan of Northam, especially after his offensive remarks on late-term abortion (even killing after birth). But his college yearbook showed him with a blackface (caused by his application of boot polish) as he mimicked Michael Jackson. Northam apparently was good at Jackson's trademark of moon walking. The Left overlooked his abortion remarks but charged him with racism for his blackface portrayal of Jackson. At first, Northam apologized, but later said he didn't think he was the person in the photo. That picture showed him (presumably) next to a colleague wearing a KKK hood. That association was the condemning factor. Now the Virginia state Attorney General Mark Herring has also confessed that he too wore blackface when he was 19 years old. He also has been asked to resign.


The use of blackface dates back to the 1830s when theatrical portrayals of minstrels were made by white men dressed up as African Americans. Some of those productions demeaned blacks. However, this was not always the case. According to my research, early films in the 1930s and 1940s frequently showed the use of blackface by actors, including Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, Doris Day, and Judy Garland. No one has accused them of racism. Today, by contrast, all use of blackface has become a symbol of racism, and that association is what is threatening the Virginia state politicians, even though they were relatively young at the time of their blackface use.

I wonder what the charge would be if a young black man powdered his face and made a rendition of (white) Elvis singing “I'm Nothing But a Hound Dog.” Wouldn't that be reverse racism if the same standards were applied by the political correctness police?

If we are to judge a politician's fitness for office by what he did in his youth 30 or 40 years earlier, then what politician would be qualified? Should every candidate submit his or her high school and college yearbooks before running for office? It seems to me that it is much more important to judge a person by what they have done in the last 20 or 30 years of their life, than what he did in the immaturity of his youth.

 Peter Gilderson is a Northsider.


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