The Popcorn Stand: What the world needs now is forgiveness, integrity

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Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, is the latest politician to land in hot water when it came out his 1984 medical school yearbook contained photos of a person in blackface and another person dressed up as a Ku Klux Klansman.

As of this writing it’s unclear if Northam is one of those two persons in the photograph, apparently even to Northam, who originally said he was and then said he wasn’t, but also admitting he had also worn blackface at a different time.

Northam’s dilemma again provides a moral dilemma for all of us. Should Northam be forgiven for photographs and his actions from 35 years ago? Absolutely. Should he be allowed to remain in office? That’s a question we’ll be debating until the cows come home.

I’ll again refer to my favorite sports columnist, Red Smith, in which this column is named in his honor. When it comes to issues like this as Smith once wrote, I’m a lillywhite who can see both sides (although lillywhite may not be the most appropriate term to use considering the subject matter).

I will also point out this. Without going into detail I know someone who was involved in similar circumstances as Northam was at about the same time and I’d hate to think that would ever disqualify that person from public service.

Because I know that person to be a person of integrity. And whenever I try to decide if a person is fit for office and it comes to moral dilemmas like these, I ask myself if the person is a person of integrity, which I admit can be subjective.

From what I understand, other than what was in his yearbook, Northam has been a person of integrity, although many consider his pro-choice beliefs to be quite extreme.

I’ll also say this. I don’t subscribe to the innocent before proven guilty standard. In a court of law. Yes. In public service, not so much.

So when it came to Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court, again, the only standard in my mind should have been is Kavanaugh a person of integrity? Sadly, I don’t think that was the standard for Republicans who voted to confirm him — nor the standard for Democrats who voted against him.

All I know is if this society had a lot more forgiveness and integrity it would be a lot better place.

— Charles Whisnand


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