Epps: Gut Check Part II — Twisted

By Andrea M. Epps //

To be clear before I begin with this post: this is not about abortion and this is not about evil racism. This is about a clear lack of responsibility.

I was thinking about the spirit of “responsibility in politics,”and I realized that there are a few other points that are important enough to the subject to be deserving of their own discussion. Twisting the truth beyond recognition has become so common, it’s almost expected — but it is never responsible, and at times, is nothing short of fear-mongering.

Within the last few years in Virginia, we have seen a politician who is accused of supporting mass murder…we have seen people call candidates evil and racist…based on nothing more than the letter that happens to be behind their name.

The powers-that-be must be under the impression that they need to twist and distort their opponent or their record to be able to sell their own candidate. Have we reached the point that there are no honorable people willing to serve in public office?

If these tactics are successful, we will become sheeple who will be led down the path of hatred. Regardless of your political affiliation, do you think it is healthy for our children to watch as spin, manipulation, and flat out lies are admired as a form of art?

I’m going to present two cases in point:
1. Governor Ralph Northam and infanticide.
2. Ed Gillespie and racism in a truck with tea party plates, a confederate flag, chasing minority children through a neighborhood

Governor Northam:

Reasonable people may disagree on the true implications of Delegate Kathy Trans’ failed abortion legislation (HB 2491) or on her inability to understand her own bill. I offer no opinion whatsoever. With that said, she stepped on her lip trying to explain the bill, and later explained that her initial comments were wrong. I am fairly sure most people in Virginia understand that infanticide is murder. I am certain Governor Northam understands, this as he is a pediatric neurologist.

He was asked about the bill (and Delegate Trans’ lip dancing) on January 30 on WTOP. This is what was actually said (bold emphasis mine):

“Do you support her measure?” reporter Julie Carey asked.
“This is why decisions such as this should be made by providers, physicians, and the mothers and fathers
 that are involved,” Northam said. When we talk about third-trimester abortions,” he went on, it’s done in cases where there may be severe deformities. There may be a fetus that’s nonviable.” “If a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen,” he added. “The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.”

There can be no mistake between anyone who can read that Northam was describing the circumstances that would allow a third trimester abortion in cases of severe deformities where a fetus would not survive on its own. I have seen this heartbreaking situation twice in my life. I think that might explain why I will never understand how anyone can use this topic for political gain — and willingly twist Governor Northam’s comments to such a point they just ignore the first half of his comments, and quote him instead as saying:

“If a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen,” he added. “The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.”

See the difference? Should this be acceptable?

We all know that infanticide is illegal in Virginia. HB2491 would not have made it legal. No abortion rights groups support infanticide. No one in the state is actually saying it should be legal to execute babies after they are born.

Yet I have seen comments calling Northam a murderer. A trip to his Facebook page shows that there are many decent people who actually believe Northam supports killing a healthy baby after it’s born because his political opponents only quoted the second half of his statement.

This level of irresponsibility should have no place in our society. In this case, the Republicans in the Commonwealth have acted in such a disingenuous manner that they should be the bigger party and right this injustice, or at the very least, quote the Governors’ entire statement before suggesting their supporters should hate him.

Now onto the next example.

Ed Gillespie

Lest anyone who is reading this believe I am trying to criticize the Elephant clan and give the Donkey clan a pass, we also need to address an equally reprehensible act of the Donkey clan. Such act is found during the last gubernatorial campaign between Republican Ed Gillespie and Democrat Ralph Northam.

With the activities and gossip leading up to that campaign, there were folks who thought that it was sure to be quite the “vanilla” (read: boring) event. Both Gillespie and Northam were considered moderates within their own parties, and moderate candidates don’t always inspire their emotional base voters.

Maybe it was a fear of apathy…maybe an act of desperation…I’ll never know, but the Donkey clan, and Northam by extension, allowed the release of a television ad that hit so far below the belt that it caused a backlash that for whatever reason was not anticipated.

Kerry Dougherty, a columnist with the Virginian Pilot described it well:
“…Northam’s recent ads have tried to tie Gillespie to the Tiki torch-carrying and Nazi-saluting mob that marched in Charlottesville and left one woman dead in the street. Those spots are so vile and dishonest that even the Daily Progress in Charlottesville condemned them in an editorial. Northam was “politicizing the Charlottesville tragedy” the editors said, in a “cynically calculating” way. “To take the tragedy of Charlottesville and exploit it for political advantage is stomach-turning,” the editors added.

And this was just before the “American Nightmare”.

The Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star explained the “Nightmare” (bold emphasis mine)

“The ad, titled “American Nightmare,” characterized Gillespie supporters as the kind of people who would deliberately use a truck to run down minority children. The ad was deleted after a national backlash, and Northam quickly disavowed it. However, Northam’s campaign received an in-kind donation of $62,729.60 from LVF for “media.” Under Virginia Department of Elections rules governing in-kind donations, “an agent of the candidate’s campaign committee must have either expressly requested or suggested to the person or committee that the expenditure be made … or have material involvement in devising the strategy, content, means of dissemination, or timing of the expenditure.”

So Northam’s campaign is responsible for one of the worst race-baiting ads in memory. That’s a shame, because there’s no evidence that the former Army doctor is himself a race-baiter. But allowing his campaign to approve such an ad is, to put it in the doctor’s own words, “despicable”.

Yes, that was a despicable nightmare that inspired yet another to go too far. State senator Barbara Favola (D) followed the Northam campaign into the gutter, calling Gillespie and his supporters “evil” during a community meeting in November:

“What my colleagues didn’t really tell you is how dangerous it will be if the other side wins. They’re evil, we’re the good guys,” Favola said. “Every one of you is an angel.”

For all of the accusations of nasty behavior heaped on Republicans, it seems clear that the Democrats were no better in the race to shed themselves of every ounce of decency.

But that’s the point.

Ed Gillespie is not a racist redneck in a pick-up with tea party plates and a confederate flag trying to run down minority children. Governor Northam doesn’t sit up at night scheming up ways to mass murder infants.

Both of them are good, family, God-fearing men who have differing views on any range of issues. Agree or disagree with any stated opinion, but take care of “The Golden Rule.” Its status is declining in the current cesspool-of-a-political environment here in Virginia.

And we have all seen…over…and over…and over… Repeat a twisted fact, or blatant lie enough, and people will believe it is true. And there is a crime in that. It turns the truth into a slippery illusion.

The Illusory Truth. The Illusion of Truth. Turning the truth into something that loses all basis in fact. And without truth…there is no trust…and we become…?

Let’s sit with that one for a while, as we begin to understand. Shame on us.

Andrea M. Epps is a part-time land use consultant, full-time mother and observer of society 

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