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Fmr VA Gov Northam, Of ‘Blackface’ Fame, Says GOP Won Using CRT As ‘Dog-Whistle’
Protestors rally against Virginia Governor Ralph Northam outside of the governors mansion in downtown Richmond, Virginia on February 4, 2019. - Demonstrators are calling for the resignation of Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, after a photo of two people, one dressed as a Klu Klux Klan member and a person in blackface were discovered on his personal page of his college yearbook. Northam said that while he had not appeared in the photo, "many actions that we rightfully recognize as abhorrent today were commonplace" and he was not surprised such material made its way to the yearbook. (Photo by Logan Cyrus / AFP) (Photo credit should read
Logan Cyrus/AFP via Getty Images

Speaking to MSNBC’s Jonathan Capehart, former Virginia Democrat Governor Ralph Northam — who has admitted he was one of the two people shown in the 1984 yearbook at Eastern Virginia Medical School where one was wearing blackface and one a Ku Klux Klan robe and hood — insisted that the reason GOP Governor Glenn Youngkin won the gubernatorial race in 2021 was that Republicans used “Critical Race Theory” as a “dog whistle.”

A “dog whistle,” according to Merriam-Webster, is “an expression or statement that has a secondary meaning intended to be understood only by a particular group of people.” Many Democrats have accused Republicans over the years of using phrases that were racist but coded as “dog-whistles.”

In an interview taped last week before Youngkin’s inauguration on Saturday, Capehart asked Northam, “You leave office on January 15. You’re leaving office – last I saw, the state had a budget surplus, the unemployment rate is below the national average. So why is it, do you think, that Virginia voters opted to go with someone who’s your complete political opposite to run the state?’

First Northam deflected by boasting: “Jonathan, I think what we’ve proven over the last four years is that we can have a very progressive commonwealth, a state that embraces diversity, a state that takes care of its workers. A state that’s welcoming and inclusive and at the same time have a robust economy. As you said, our surplus is $2.6 billion. For the last three years, Virginia has been named the number one state in the country in which to do business. And I really don’t think we’ve talked about what we’ve done as Democrats enough over the last four years.”

Then he argued, “The election was nationalized; there was a lot of emphasis on the previous president and I think we should have done a better job talking about our accomplishments.”

“I hear what you’re saying on that Governor, but to your point of saying that under your government you embraced diversity, and yet a lot of the coverage of that campaign was about local school board meetings and centered around ‘Critical Race Theory’ and whether it was being taught in Virginia schools,” Capehart posited. “And that’s what Governor-elect Youngkin ran on and possibly won on. So what does that say about the Commonwealth?”

“Well, a couple things,” Northam replied. “It says One, a Critical Race Theory is nothing more than a dog whistle. We don’t teach Critical Race Theory. It’s not a part of our curriculum in K-12 schools. What it also says, and perhaps more importantly, is that anger and fear are very strong emotions, and I think their campaign was a lot based on that, was out there provoking fear and anger in people, and they responded to it. And the rest is history.”

“But that’s not a good direction for Virginia to go in; it’s not a good direction for this country to go in,” he pontificated. “I think we have to start with the facts. We may be able to disagree, but let’s at least deal with facts and go from there. But Critical Race Theory is a dog-whistle, and it’s not being taught in our schools.”

Republican Virginia Lieutenant Governor Winsome Sears, who was also sworn into office on Saturday, confronted CNN’s Dana Bash in November after the news anchor insisted CRT was not taught in public schools.

“Let’s talk about education more broadly. You opposed Critical Race Theory taught in schools which I should say is not part of Virginia’s curriculum,” Bash said. “You did say though that the good and the bad of American history should be taught, and that — we should also tell viewers you’re a former vice president of the Virginia Board of Education. Explain how you think race should be taught in Virginia public schools.”

“Well, let me back up. I beg to differ that CRT is not taught,” Sears responded.

“I didn’t say that. I just said it’s not in the curriculum, just to be clear,” Bash pressed.

“No, no, no, no, it is part of the curriculum, it is weaved in and out of the curriculum,” Sears continued, arguing that the principles of CRT had been woven into the standard curriculum over time. “In fact, in 2015, former governor, who was just defeated, McAuliffe, his state Board of Education had information on how to teach it, so it’s weaved in. So you know, it’s semantics, but it’s weaved in.”

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