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Northam Takes Aim At Confederate Statues In Attempt To Rebound From Racist Yearbook Photo

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In a Washington Post interview from Saturday, Governor of Virginia Ralph Northam said that he is planning to target Confederate monuments that supposedly provoke “hatred” and “bigotry” for relocation to museums. He stated, “I will take a harder line. If there are statues, if there are monuments out there that provoke this type of hatred and bigotry, they need to be in museums.”

Governor Northam is desperately trying to stabilize his political career after the release of his medical school yearbook photo, depicting him in either blackface or a KKK robe.

Northam makes several comments in the interview addressing the persisting issues of racism gripping the state of Virginia, while still denying his personal expressions of racism on full display in his yearbook photo.

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“It’s obvious from what happened this week that we still have a lot of work to do. There are still some very deep wounds in Virginia, and especially in the area of equity,”. 

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He continues,

“There are ongoing inequities to access to things like education, health care, mortgages, capital, entrepreneurship. And so this has been a real, I think, an awakening for Virginia. It has really raised the level of awareness for racial issues in Virginia. And so we’re ready to learn from our mistakes.”

Northam lays out several initiatives that he says he plans to take action on regarding minorities in Virginia. One of which refers to the relocation of Confederate monuments to museums. According to The Post, Northam has flip-flopped on the issue of taking down Confederate monuments, reportedly once advocating for local governments to have the final decision in the matter, and now stating that he will “take a harder line” on Confederate monuments, and that, “If there are statues, if there are monuments out there that provoke this type of hatred and bigotry, they need to be in museums.”

The interviewer from The Post asked Northam if a portrait of former Virginia Governor Henry Wise, who was a supporter of the Confederacy and the institution of slavery, that was hanging in the parlor should be taken down. He responded, “Well, I think that’s an important part of history, and we need to tell all history,” and that “We have good history in Virginia . . . and we have history that’s not good and I don’t think we can shy away from any of it. We must tell it all, we must put it in perspective.”

His response to the interviewer’s question about the portrait gives mixed signals as to where the Governor actually stands on the issue of removing history to fit modern ideas of political correctness. Perhaps showing a contradiction between what Northam prepped to tell the interviewer, and what his actual thoughts and ideas are on the matter.

Big League National Security

Will Josh Hawley be the Next Champion for an America First Foreign Policy?

America First May Have its Next Leader to End Wars Abroad

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Does America First have a new non-interventionist champion?

Missouri Senator Josh Hawley has been viewed by many as one of the figures who could potentially lead a Trumpist movement after Trump, should Joe Biden end up being installed as president on January 2021.

Hawley has made a name for himself as a champion of Middle America and questioning the neoliberal orthodoxy on immigration and trade. Lately, Hawley has made a pivot towards  questioning the interventionist conventional wisdom on foreign policy. 

In early October of this year, the Missouri Senator called for the American government to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. Hawley tweeted, “Almost 20 years now in Afghanistan. Long past time to draw this war to an end.”

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Hawley’s foreign policy has been a work progress over the past two years. During a 2019 speech Hawley gave at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), he questioned the nation-building policy prescriptions of previous administrations, demonstrating some degree of skepticism towards non-stop interventionism abroad on the part of the Senator.

That said, it remains to be seen if Hawley’s legislative record will fully match his rhetoric.

Hawley is a staunch China hawk, who fears the rise of China and is a strong voice against China’s expansionist efforts. Hawley’s track record shows that his foreign policy views are rough around the edges. Daniel Larison of The American Conservative is not as optimistic about Hawley judging by his votes on the Yemeni Civil War. Larison cited several of Hawley’s votes that may be cause for concern:

Sen. Hawley voted against the Senate’s resolution of disapproval that opposed the president’s effort to circumvent Congress with a bogus “emergency” to expedite arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE. More important, he voted with the president and most Senate Republicans against the antiwar Yemen resolution that would have cut off all U.S. support to the Saudi coalition.”

Nevertheless, Hawley’s comments on Afghanistan are a good sign that Hawley is catching on to the fact that Americans are tired of foreign wars. Politicians can change their views and behaviors. Hawley is likely recognizing that the America First movement is exhausted by the endless wars and wants candidates and elected officials who offer withdrawal plans. 

After looking at the list of people who have been tapped to join the Biden administration, Hawley tweeted, “What a group of corporatists and war enthusiasts – and #BigTech sellouts.”

Journalist Glenn Greenwald, a fierce interventionist skeptic, maintained cautious optimism about Hawley. In a tweet, he commented, “All kinds of reasons to be skeptical of the authenticity here, but — purely as a matter of rhetoric — just imagine any national Republican speaking this way about a Dem administration even 10 years ago. The framework of politics is radically shifting.”

The jury is still out on Hawley. Regardless of flaws in his voting record, America First advocates should continue to push him and other America First leaning Republicans in the right direction. We should never forget that politicians are still receptive to political pressure and the grassroots holds the keys to political change. 

Young senators like Hawley are the future of American politics and it makes sense for foreign policy restrainers to lobby them and push them in a direction that favors non-interventionism.

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