Does the Dirt Decide?

In the month of January, a scandal surfaced about Ralph Northam and some other Democratic political party members.  During Northam’s years at EVMS, a picture from a party was taken. The picture was of two people who were unidentified – one in blackface and the other in Ku Klux Klan robes. Northam was accused of being one of the people in the photo. The page from Northam’s yearbook page was shared by an anonymous source. When confronted, Northam originally admitted, then later denied that he was in the photo, maintaining that he did not, in fact, even purchase the yearbook.  Since that time, he is being pressured to resign from his position as governor yet he refuses to back down.

Unfortunately, the situation has spiraled further for the Virginia Democrats since two additional politicians have embarrassing scandals as well.  Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax and Attorney General Mark Herring face allegations of misconduct, yet they have no plans to resign either. But does it matter? Should these political figures be held accountable for something that happened decades ago? Let’s hear what Berk Alptekin (‘21) and an anonymous faculty member have to say.

First up, Berk Alptekin. Berk was asked if he thinks the media tries to dig up dirt on people purposefully just to put them out when they make a name for themselves. He responded saying, “Every time somebody comes up with something good, someone puts them down to make this person look bad and themselves better.  An example of this is the Brett Kavanaugh case. A woman came forward to defame him by claiming he sexually assaulted her while they were in college.”  Berk further adds, “Now that Kavanaugh was being considered as a Supreme Court Justice, the media digs up this charge against him.”   Berk also thinks that “the severity of the situation should be what determines if a person should receive or be excluded from a position in politics, but only if solid proof has come forward to validate the charge.” When asked if he thinks individuals should be judged on actions from decades ago, Berk said, “a person should still have a right to his life to carry it on as if nothing happened without the pressure from the world until it is proven that a person has done wrong. Then one should have to suffer the consequences like he was a regular citizen, not with anything less, or anything extra added to a punishment.” Berk continued, “Times change. Laws and the way society looked at each other is different now from the way it was four decades ago. If a crime was committed during that time, the crime should be tried with those laws in effect. A person shouldn’t just get out of the crime if the laws aren’t the same.” When asked about the Northam scandal, Berk offered, “He should still stay in office until there is solid proof, but we still need to trust him that he will do his job correctly because we voted him in.” In addition, Berk thinks that the other Democratic party figures should be treated in the same way. Berk believes in fairness and thinks that everyone should be able to have the shot they want, but they should be tried in the same fairness they were given in the start.

An anonymous CHC faculty member was also interviewed on the subject. This faculty member believes that the media does target people that have made a name for themselves. But this faculty member said, “That is their job, though, getting information out to the public whether it be negative or positive.”  When asked if a person should be held accountable for actions committed years ago, this faculty member stated that it is “whether or not if a person helps that targeted community now or not. If a person were to insult a community in the past and not do anything to rectify that decision, then they shouldn’t be justified in this situation because the laws were different then, than they are now.  If the community thinks it is okay or not as bad as the media makes it sound, then it doesn’t need to be justified.”