Memo to Northam: Show me

David P. Baugh | 2/15/2019, 6 a.m.
Dear Gov. Northam:


David Baugh

Dear Gov. Northam:

From your words, I believe you are not the man you were in 1984. The images on your medical school yearbook page showing someone in blackface, like Sambo or Jim Crow, and a Klansman, who murdered men, women and children, are not a picture into your heart.

The two sides in this public debate are that you are incredibly naïve or you are a racist. No matter which prevails, you lose.

The recent revelations about Virginia’s governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general have besmirched the Commonwealth’s reputation. But your words of denial or explanation will not resolve the question. Words do not show me your heart.

Show me. Only your actions can speak to Virginians.

Show me you do not advocate the values projected by the yearbook photograph. Show me that Virginia is now ready to heal after 300 years of slavery and its horrors, followed by 70 years of Jim Crow systematic discrimination and the current bedeviling with the nullification of voters through gerrymandering and voter disenfranchisement. Show me that the moral ideals of the Declaration of Independence can reach fruition in 2019. Show me efforts to end inequality.

Take down the granite monuments of honor to Confederates. Relegate the statues to museums.

Continue to restore voting rights to disenfranchised voters. In 14 states and the District of Columbia, felons lose the right to vote only while in prison. In 22 states, felons lose their voting rights while incarcerated and for a period after release. Of the remaining states, only conviction of certain violent crimes leads to lifelong disenfranchisement.

Outlaw the accepted scheme of bribery called lobbying and campaign contributions.

The lieutenant governor has asked for law enforcement to investigate the allegations made against him. An investigation by law enforcement authorities can show us the truth or falsity of the allegations regarding his acts.

But, Gov. Northam, no investigation can show Virginians the content of your heart. Show me.

The writer is a former federal prosecutor and longtime criminal defense attorney and legal expert.