Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax gave an unexpected speech on the floor of the state Senate today, referencing Virginia’s horrific history of extrajudicial killings of black men in light of the allegations that he sexually assaulted two women, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
“If we go backwards in a rush to judgment, and we allow for political lynchings without any due process, any facts, any evidence being heard, then I think we do a disservice to this very body in which we all serve,” he said.
“I’m happy to be just one representative example of whether or not we’re going to rise to the better angels of our nature or go back down a very dark political road,” he added. “And yet we stand here in a rush to judgment with nothing but accusations and no facts and we decide that we are willing to do the same thing.”
This is a bold, and offensive, comment from a politician in a state with an incredibly fraught history and present relationship with race—Fairfax is currently the only man in the top three positions in Virginia who hasn’t publicly admitted to wearing blackface.
It’s also, as the Times-Dispatch points out, reminiscent of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ 1991 comments regarding his confirmation hearings, in which he claimed to be the victim of a “high-tech lynching.” Thomas, in case anyone has forgotten, was accused of sexual harassment by Anita Hill.
On Friday, state Republicans invited both accusers, Meredith Watson and Dr. Vanessa Tyson, to testify before the state Senate.
Before Fairfax made his remarks, Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment praised his “professionalism” over the past weeks.
“I would have to say that everyone in this body understands the stress that you have been under throughout these weeks,” Norment said.
“I just want to personally thank you for your professionalism and the manner in which you have presided over the Senate during these times that were stressful for you and your family,” he continued. “And we’re most appreciative of your evenhandedness, your genteel manner, and the professionalism that you have demonstrated throughout this session, so I thank you, sir.”
Nothing more genteel than allegedly forcing a woman to have sex with you!
Fairfax thanked Norment in his remarks, and added that the “truth is on [his] side.”
“I appreciate every single one of you and I appreciate your words and sentiments very much—the words of encouragement that I have received and my family has received,” Fairfax said. “And I will say this: The reason that I have been able to preside in the way that I have is that God is good, and the truth is on my side. And I am very firm in both of those things. And my faith is unshakable.”
He also alleged that the allegations against him were timed to prevent him from becoming governor should current Gov. Ralph Northam resign over his ongoing blackface scandal.
“I have lived 40 years accusation free, and there’s a reason for that, and none of this is a coincidence,” Fairfax said.
Fairfax is right about one thing—it’s not a coincidence that the allegations are coming out now, when he is in line to become governor. Tyson said that it was her realization that Fairfax could soon be governor that motivated her to come forward. But she also told her friend Rep. Bobby Scott and reached out to the Washington Post with her story a year ago, when Fairfax was chosen as Northam’s running mate.
It’s pretty disgusting that Fairfax would imply these allegations are part of a racist plot to unseat him, and reference the history of lynchings, considering both of his accusers are women of color.
“Women of color who report rape know to expect a dismissive response characterized by even greater disbelief and more abuse, if not complete and utter indifference,” Watson wrote in a Washington Post op-ed this week.
Currently, both Fairfax and Northam say they will not resign.