In a longer piece about the implications of blackface and the recent revelations in Virginia, the Portland Press-Herald’s Greg Kesich makes a vital observation (emphasis added):
There’s too much debate over whether Northam or Herring is really “a racist,” but that’s where a lot of these arguments go off track. There are self-avowed racists – KKK members and neo-Nazis and others who advocate violence and terror – but there aren’t enough of them to oppress millions.
The real problem is much bigger and more complex. All of us were brought up in a racist world – not of our own making, but built on deep inequality that started with slavery and never ended. You don’t have to have hatred in your heart to perpetuate this system. You just need to pretend that you didn’t notice it.
I agree wholeheartedly with him that inaction in the face of evil is culpability.
Elsewhere in the column, Kesich calls for Herring and Northam to resign. Given the realities of Virginia politics, I have deeply mixed feelings their resigning over something stupid, venal, and ignorant that they did 30 years ago. I also note that, as someone else has noted elsewhere I forget where, were they Republican politicians, some would protest, but, likely, most persons would just shrug a what-can-you-expect shrug and move on.