Perhaps as part of an effort to divert attention from embattled Virginia Democrats Gov. Ralph Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring, both of whom admitted to wearing “blackface” in their younger years, an old picture of Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell posing in front of a Confederate flag resurfaced on social media.
TIME magazine reported that many on the left were incensed that Northam was receiving so much heat for an old photo on his medical school yearbook page which appeared to show him either dressed in blackface or wearing a white hooded KKK outfit, and engaged in “whataboutism” to shift attention toward McConnell.
Confederate flag photo
CNN’s Jake Tapper shared the old image of McConnell in front of the Confederate flag on social media as well.
He noted that McConnell’s office had said the senator wouldn’t pose for a similar photo in the current age, even as they acknowledged that the Confederate flag holds different meanings for different people from different parts of the country.
Lots of folks tweeting out this photo of @senatemajldr so I asked his office about it.
A spokesman suggested Leader McConnell wouldn’t pose for such a photo today as he did “30 years or so ago”… 1/4 https://t.co/fkd5eOzlHF
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) February 3, 2019
TIME noted that the McConnell photo first surfaced and garnered negative attention in 2015 when the debate over the Confederate flag began to heat up, which showed McConnell either presenting or receiving an award at a Sons of Confederate Veterans event in the early 1990s.
Comparison to Northam
However, in the wake of the Northam blackface controversy, some on the left have seized on the McConnell photo as evidence of hypocrisy and double standards by the right.
But such claims pale in comparison to the hypocritical double standards routinely displayed by the left.
One tweet that was representative of the left’s reaction to the McConnell photo came from a user by the name of “Resistance Rosie,” who dropped the names of several top Republicans who’ve been accused of racism in recent years, largely due to out-of-context quotes and media-perpetuated misconceptions.
Northam should resign. But I love how the GOP is indignant while supporting current GOP racists like Trump (Nazi’s are fine people), Steve King (open white supremacist), Cindy Hyde-Smith (wants to sit front row at a lynching), and confederate flag McConnell. #Hypocrisy
— Resistance Rosie (@rosie_gilrobles) February 3, 2019
McConnell’s office responds
As for McConnell himself, his office released a statement in response to the circulation of the old Confederate flag photo.
Spokesman David Popp told TIME, “This picture gets ‘attention on social media’ frequently,” and pointed out it was from an event held “30 years ago or so.”
“The left trots it out every time Sen. McConnell speaks out on race or the Confederate flag — as he did on Charlottesville, the Confederate flag over (South Carolina)’s capitol, removing Jefferson Davis from the Kentucky capitol, his comments on (Republican Iowa Rep.) Steve King and so on. They’ve been doing this for many, many years,” he said.
The sudden resurgence of this old photo in the wake of the Northam controversy appears intended to try and smear Sen. McConnell, with the obvious side effect of taking the heat off of Northam.