During an on-air debate, Ralph Northam, the McAuliffe-backed Democrat running for Lt. Gov. in Virginia, refused to shake hands with E. W. Jackson, his GOP opponent, who happens to be a black minister, Breitbart.com reported Monday.
The on-camera snub took place after Northam confirmed that he wants to massively expand government healthcare. He also refused to deny allegations that he believes traditional Christians have no right to act according to their traditional-marriage views, Breitbart added.
Breitbart described the incident:
At first, a viewer might give Northam the benefit of the doubt that somehow he doesn’t see the extended hand. But Jackson dispels that doubt by taking his outstretched hand to tap Northam on the arm and then re-extends his hand almost into Northam’s lap. Northam still refuses to take it.
The racist snub sparked sharp reactions from civil rights leaders, Ken Klukowski said.
In a statement to Breitbart, Dr. Alveda King, the niece of Martin Luther King, Jr. who is recognized as one of America’s most prominent and respected civil rights leaders, said she was "saddened" to learn of Northam's action.
"I am deeply burdened by the loss of civility in politics today," she said. "As one who has been elected to office as a Democratic Georgia State Representative, served as a Republican presidential appointee and who has often voted as an Independent, I have often said that we would all be better off without the political squabbles that tend to divide us. Refusing to shake hands with your opponent in front of a television audience takes the loss of civility to a new low. I would hope that his refusal to shake hands had nothing to do with the color of his opponent’s skin."
The ACLU's Ken Blackwell also weighed in.
"The Founders of the American republic understood that democracy only works when both sides can at least be civil to their opponents. Virginia voters need to decide if that disqualifies Ralph Northam from being lieutenant governor of the Old Dominion," he told Breitbart.
"In many countries, disagreements over policy end in brutal government oppression or even bloodshed. Politics can be so passionate with people clashing over views that an essential element of building goodwill and finding common ground is by working overtime to be courteous and complimentary. Unfortunately, Mr. Northam’s actions fall short of that important standard," he added.
While appearing on "Mornings on the Mall" on WMAL in Washington DC Monday, Jackson called the snub "insulting," but added that it was "consistent with the way" Northam behaves.
"Because, this spot he's been running, saying that I believe that a child born with birth defects is born that way because of their parents' sin is just a damnable, palpable, despicable lie. I don't believe that. I never said anything like that. And it's that kind of dishonesty that, to me, says this is not the kind of person that needs to be holding state-wide office. Not shaking my hand really just confirmed that," he said.
A post at Weasel Zippers asked the obvious: "Can you imagine the outcry if this was a white Republican refusing to shake hands with a black Democrat?"
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