Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. mocked Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s (D) order requiring state residents to wear face masks by designing one with the photo of a student in blackface and another in a Ku Klux Klan robe that appeared on the governor’s medical school yearbook page.
“I was adamantly opposed to the mandate from @GovernorVA requiring citizens to wear face masks until I decided to design my own,” Falwell tweeted, sharing an image of a mask that appeared to cost $25 with the image displayed on it.
“If I am ordered to wear a mask, I will reluctantly comply, but only if this picture of Governor Blackface himself is on it!” he added.
I was adamantly opposed to the mandate from @GovernorVA requiring citizens to wear face masks until I decided to design my own. If I am ordered to wear a mask, I will reluctantly comply, but only if this picture of Governor Blackface himself is on it!#VEXIT#EndLockdownNow pic.twitter.com/twu7r4rWhd— Jerry Falwell (@JerryFalwellJr) May 27, 2020
Northam on Tuesday announced a statewide mask mandate over the coronavirus pandemic that is set to begin Friday. The order will require anyone in Virginia over 10 years old in an indoor public space to wear a face mask, WECT reported.
"Everything we do affects someone else. I'm asking us all to remember the golden rule: that we should treat each other the way that we want people to treat us," Northam said at a Tuesday press conference.
The Virginia governor faced calls to resign last year after the racist yearbook photo emerged. He has made conflicting statements about the image, first apologizing for it and later saying that he was not pictured.
Northam and Falwell have previously clashed over Liberty University’s decision to reopen its Lynchburg campus as COVID-19 took hold across the U.S. Liberty welcomed between 1,000 and 2,000 students who wanted to return to the evangelical college’s campus in late March.
Northam said at the time that the move posed a public health risk.
"As we are told in First Corinthians, it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. Proving faithful means providing clear and consistent guidance. And it means respecting the duty that Liberty has to its students, staff, the Lynchburg community in which it is located, and our Commonwealth,” Northam said at a news conference at the time.
"I would suggest Mr. Falwell look to the actions of the leaders of Virginia’s flagship universities for how to set a strong example in this health crisis and reconsider his message that invites and encourages students to return to campus,” he continued.