You could put this one down as the classic, “What if a Republican had done this?” Imagine if you will a Republican candidate for Lt. Governor in the great state of Virginia refusing to shake an African-American opponent’s hand. What do you think the first thing the news media might say about the situation? That’s right, the Republican would quickly be labeled a racist.
The “non-handshake” moment came on the heels of Republican candidate for Lt. Governor, E.W. Jackson, tying his opponent, Northam, to the Obamacare failures and implying that the Democrat believed that Christians had no right to oppose gay marriage. “…Northam believes people who do not embrace gay marriage have no place in Virginia. (One of Northam’s relevant statements is linked here.) Jackson adds that he believes that there is increasing intolerance of devout Christians on this issue and that Northam’s statements suggest anti-Christian bias.” Interestingly, Northam didn’t dispute the attack, but simply voiced his support for gay marriage.
While Democrats and the media may think that the Northam’s refusal to shake his opponent’s hand may be no big deal, several prominent civil rights leaders disagree.
Dr. Alveda King, the niece of the great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “I was saddened to learn today that Lt. Gov. candidate Ralph Northam refused to shake the hands of his opponent E.W. Jackson at the end of a television debate. I am deeply burdened by the loss of civility in politics today. Refusing to shake hands with your opponent in front of a television audience takes the loss of civility to a new low… I would hope that his refusal to shake hands had nothing to do with the color of his opponent’s skin… It is my hope that in these last hours of the race, Ralph Northam will recognize his inappropriate behavior and offer an apology to E.W. Jackson and to all those he hopes to represent.”
Ken Blackwell from the ACLU seemed to think that this kind of behavior may disqualify Northam from political office. “People sometimes accuse politicians of being two-faced or insincere when they refer to bitter opponents as “my good friend” and pose for smiling photos with them. It’s not deception; it’s basic courtesy and respect, without which democracy cannot function.
In many countries, disagreements over policy end in brutal government oppression or even bloodshed. Politics can be so passionate with people clashing over views that an essential element of building goodwill and finding common ground is by working overtime to be courteous and complimentary. Unfortunately, Mr. Northam’s actions fall short of that important standard.”
For his part E.W. Jackson wasn’t surprised by his opponent’s lack of couth. “It was insulting, but, on the other hand, I thought it was consistent with the way he behaves.”
I hate the double standard that exists in the political media. Democrats get a pass for insulting behavior, but Republicans are treated like monsters.
I guess we shouldn’t hold our breath hoping for things to change…