Northam, the Democratic candidate for Virginia governor, is descended from slaveowners, but he believes that Confederate monuments should be removed from public spaces. This earned him the ire of the Virginia GOP, which tweeted the following from its official account:
This is familiar rhetoric. Just last night, Donald Trump said those who wanted to take down those monuments are “trying to take away our culture. They’re trying to take away our history.” The coded allusions to “heritage” and “history” not only advance the spurious argument that the Civil War was about defending Southern culture, but also cast these concepts in ominously racial terms. The Virginia GOP might as well have said that Ralph Northam is a race traitor.
Northam is not the only white descendant of Southern slaveowners to object to Confederate monuments. The descendants of Stonewall Jackson have recently done the same. “Heritage” is a racist dog-whistle because our heritage is racist, which is precisely why it must be publicly repudiated. And in doing so, those descendants do not turn their backs to their heritage. They confront it, and tell the truth.
The Virginia GOP deleted the tweets and issued a follow-up:
But the horse left that stable long ago. It is no accident that Donald Trump won the GOP’s nomination for president, or that nearly 70 percent of identified Republican voters agreed with his “both-sides” rhetoric after Charlottesville. The Virginia GOP’s tweets were a classic gaffe, in that they admitted a fundamental truth about the party.