The Virginia GOP has come under fire after launching a vicious tweet criticizing Democratic candidate Ralph Northam as a “race traitor” for supporting the removal of Confederate monuments from public spaces.
Northam, the Democratic candidate for Virginia governor, is descended from slaveowners, but he believes that Confederate monuments should be removed from public spaces. This earned him the ire of the Virginia GOP, which responded with a disturbingly racist attack on Twitter:
Northam is not the only white descendant of Southern slaveowners to object to Confederate monuments. The descendants of Stonewall Jackson have recently done the same.
“Heritage is a racist dog-whistle because our heritage is racist, which is precisely why it must be publicly repudiated. And in doing so, we do not turn our backs to our heritage. We confront it, and tell the truth,” they said in a statement.
Facing backlash from constituents, the Virginia GOP deleted the tweets and issued a follow-up:
Our previous tweets were interpreted in a way we never intended. We apologize and reiterate our denunciation of racism in all forms.
— Virginia GOP (RPV) (@VA_GOP) August 23, 2017
This is familiar rhetoric. On Tuesday night, Donald Trump said those who wanted to take down those monuments are “trying to take away our culture. They’re trying to take away our history.” The coded allusions to “heritage” and “history” not only advance the spurious argument that the Civil War was about defending Southern culture but also cast these concepts in ominously racial terms.