The following statements from the Virginia PTA and the Fairfax NAACP follow this speech last Thursday – outside the Fairfax County School Board meeting – by Michelle Leete of the Fairfax NAACP and Virginia PTA, in which she said:
“So let’s meet and remain steadfast in speaking truth, tearing down double standards, and refuting double talk. Let’s not allow any double downing on lies. Let’s prepare our children for a world they deserve. Let’s deny this off-key band of people that are anti-education, anti-teacher, anti-equity, anti-history, anti-racial reckoning, anti-opportunities, anti-help people, anti-diversity, anti-platform, anti-science, anti-change agent, anti-social justice, anti-healthcare, anti-worker, anti-LGBTQ+, anti-children, anti-healthcare, anti-worker, anti-environment, anti-admissions policy change, anti-inclusion, anti-live-and-let live people. Let them die.”
Now clearly, the controversial part of this speech – and the part that has gone “viral” on right-wing media the past few days – was overwhelmingly the last three words (“Let them die”), which of course should never be used in reference to other people, even those we strongly disagree with. Instead, the goal should be to either convince other people or to defeat them at the polls; that’s how democracy is supposed to work – peacefully working out our differences. Of course, the response to inflammatory words shouldn’t be “hate-filled emails, phone calls, and social media posts, which have been laced with racial epithets, vile language and threats,” which the Fairfax NAACP says it has received the past couple days. That’s just totally unacceptable.
By the way, it is worth noting that, for her part, Leete argued that the phrase “Let them die” was “only ever meant to refer to ‘the ideals that show a disregard and lack of support for our teachers who have a truly difficult job to do even without a pandemic,” and adds, “I will certainly admit, it was ineloquently stated and with a pause for the applause, the timing was off”
Whether they believed that explanation or not, yesterday the Virginia PTA “request[ing] and receiv[ing] the resignation of Michelle Leete, who served as Vice President of Training.” And now, as you can see below, the Fairfax NAACP has now issued a statement, saying it “does not condone or support violence of any kind, whether we agree with an individual’s ideas or not,” but adds that “we will always stand in opposition to anti-diversity and anti-equity rhetoric, and any ideas or policies that further an inequitable agenda” and that “We stand firmly by our 1st Vice President and her work in the past, present and future, and are extremely disappointed that her long track record of tireless work and dedication within the Fairfax County community has been so easily disregarded and devalued.”
We’ll see what happens next, but sad to say, this is where we seem to be at right now as a country…
FAIRFAX NAACP STATEMENT ON OUR 1ST VICE PRESIDENT
The Fairfax County NAACP is aware of the false narrative in the media regarding our 1st Vice President, related to a recent rally in support of Fairfax County Public School students. Fairfax County NAACP does not condone or support violence of any kind, whether we agree with an individual’s ideas or not. We believe in peaceful demonstrations and activism in order to achieve social justice and equity. But we will always stand in opposition to anti-diversity and anti-equity rhetoric, and any ideas or policies that further an inequitable agenda.
That is what the 1st Vice President spoke about on Thursday: to prepare our children for a better world by denying space to rhetoric, ideas or narratives that threaten the world we want to leave our next generation. This is abundantly clear when you consider the entirety of her speech, instead of simply the last seconds of it. We stand firmly by our 1st Vice President and her work in the past, present and future, and are extremely disappointed that her long track record of tireless work and dedication within the Fairfax County community has been so easily disregarded and devalued. We must be diligent and stalwart against those who use falsehoods to silence our community leaders, sow discord, and deflect attention away from important conversations on how best to protect our students while building a healthy and inclusive learning environment.
We reaffirm our position to support our students and teachers in the most positive ways. Those who are speaking out against our teachers, school board members, and students represent a way of thinking that is anti-children. We believe that these archaic ideals should be left in the past so we can create a safer, more inclusive environment for our students and teachers.
We respect and appreciate opinions different than ours but urge civil conversations, free from racist, derogatory insults or obscenities. In the days following the rally we have received many hate-filled emails, phone calls, and social media posts, which have been laced with racial epithets, vile language and threats. These messages only highlight the fact that racism and sexism are alive and well, and those who practice it will use any minor infraction or misspoken word to justify their own prejudices and actions.
To our members and supporters, please do not let this moment distract you from our cause to jointly build our beloved community. Our work together continues on many aspects that shape our daily lives and influence quality of life today and in the future. We will continue our work for justice and equity in our schools, police reform, environmental justice, voting rights, education, health and affordable housing.
We will not be silenced and will continue to fight against the injustices and discrimination that permeates our society.
Fairfax County NAACP