Wednesday, November 3, 2021

The past plays out in Virginia

     In 1959, Virginia’s Prince Edward County shut down its entire public school system, instead using tax money to support all-white private “academies,” an attempt to thwart the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision ruling that segregation in public schools is illegal.
     Prince Edward County made no provision for the education of Black students, and their parents were forced to scramble, setting up classrooms in church basements and storefronts.
     The closure was the latest strategy in a statewide campaign dubbed “Massive Resistance.” Earlier in the year, the Virginia legislature repealed the law requiring children to go to school.
     “The only places on Earth known not to provide free public education are Communist China, North Vietnam, Sarawak, Singapore, British Honduras — and Prince Edward County, Virginia,” said Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, trying to shame Prince Edward County into reopening its schools. That took five years.
     It’s an important story to know. Bigotry is primal, and those afflicted hurt not only others, but also themselves: limiting their own experience, discarding their own values, shutting their own schools.
     The massive resistance continues. Tuesday’s key gubernatorial race in Virginia pivoted on race, with former Democratic governor Terry McAuliffe, who left office in 2018, losing to private equity manager Glenn Youngkin, a Republican who campaigned on the promise to keep critical race theory from being taught in Virginia schools.
     Critical race theory isn’t taught in Virginia public schools. It’s a graduate-school level approach to history arguing that race intrudes upon just about everything in public life. Which of course it does, as evidenced by the Republican Party seizing the phrase as their latest code for keeping Black people down, their reductio ad absurdum argument being that if you teach an accurate history of race in America, well, it spoils everything.

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  1. THANK YOU! The history of "school tax vouchers" doesn't get told enough. They were born of racism and that's largely still the motivation, with a healthy dose of libertarian selfishness thrown in. That's why it's so infuriating to hear voucher advocates pitch vouchers as a solution to "failing inner city schools." They don't give a crap about schools or anything else in "the inner city"; they just want tax dollars to subsidize schools that keep out the "wrong" kids.

    1. Of course they also don't want to pay taxes for schools if they don't have any kids actually attending school at the time.


  2. This column is a good reminder that a certain segment of the country has always opposed racial equality. It's the way that the Biggest Loser has amplified and attempted to justify that opposition that makes it worse. The arc of history may bend toward justice, but that's kinda hard to recognize when the disgraced former president's minions are so busily and blatantly trying to bend it the other way. Why, I remember when people who grumbled about having a racist, sexist charlatan as president were told to "get over it" because he'd won the election. Today, those same "get over it" folks not only haven't gotten over the 2020 election, they allow themselves to be deluded by the transparent lie that Biden winning by 7 million votes didn't happen. And so they prepare to cheat better next time around.

  3. Republicans lie about race, the economy, the environment, religion, the original intent of the founders and just about everything else. Democrats lack a leader with intelligence, charisma and backing enough to countermand this sickness visited on the Country by Trumpism and complicit Republicans. Worrying about Illinois gerrymandering is a total waste of time. Unilaterally drawing fair and representative districts in Blue states would be political suicide. It would be like FDR announcing a surrender on Dec. 8, 1941 rather than calling for a declaration of war. Democrats are infighting about petty issues while ignoring the significant peril to free elections. I don't know if we will see the end of racism before climate change upends our domestic tranquility. But I do know that if it happens in my remaining lifetime, I don't want to be ruled by racist facsists.

    1. I agree with what you have to say, except the "waste of time" part. We can't battle the Republican war on democracy by aping them. Gerrymandering is an old practice, and it was repellent before, but it's doubly repellent now that Republicans having taken to pushing abuse of systemic flaws to the extreme. I don't want to be ruled by racist fascists either. Nor do I want to become one.

  4. As much as I'm disgusted by the R's, give them credit for simultaneously winning over white supremacists and suburban women. D's never fail to bring pop guns to a shootout. Is it even imaginable to not lose House and Senate in 22?


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