Thursday in Virginia Beach, a bunch of right-wing families dressed up their kids, lined them up holding flags in a creepy display of fake patriotism, and listened to 2013 losing Republican nominee for Lieutenant Governor EW Jackson, and former state senator Dick Black tell ridiculous fear mongering lies about critical race theory. (With Republican state senator and Rep. Elaine Luria-challenger Jen Kiggans attending.)
Jackson said “we love this country, we are unashamed and unabashed patriots, and Lord we are not about to allow a bunch of Marxists and Socialists and Communists destroy our country.” Then they had the children recite the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag—but note that the flag on the podium wasn’t the flag that waved o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave; it was instead a desecrated version of an American flag, with a “Don’t tread on me” insignia superimposed on it.
Jackson went on to say that “we patriots are going to have to put an end to this far-left, Marxist critical race theory 1619 Project nonsense and declare, for all of our children who are in these schools, the ones who are going to these universities that have become nothing but extensions of the influence of Communist China and other Communist forces, that this nation is and always shall be one nation, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all. We are not going to allow a bunch of anti-American haters to steal our country and rob our young people of their legacy.” So, love, patriotism, unity, but also let’s call half our country Communist and anti-American. Hmm, where have we heard that before?
Then former Loudoun County state senator Dick Black spoke. (If you don’t remember him, he’s the guy who fought year after year for a ban on sanctuary cities, which aren’t even possible in Virginia because of the Dillon Rule; who called gay conversion therapy a protected First Amendment issue; and who said that solitary confinement was necessary in Virginia because “you can’t whip people.”) As a preamble to his lies about CRT, he told some tale about his military service that was meant to imply that America is obviously one big happy and united country with no groups being treated any differently than others, because there were Hispanic and Black soldiers with him at Vietnam and they all tried to keep each other from being killed.
He then said CRT was “a revolutionary Marxist philosophy that is being taught in the schools, and it pits one race against the other.” It isn’t, of course, being taught in the schools. In fact, the Virginia Department of Education has not included, and has no intention of including, CRT in its approved and endorsed curriculum, nor is it included in standards of learning. But these people live in an alternate reality world where facts no longer matter, and they’re content to regurgitate right-wing talking points from their false idols.
He went on to say that CRT “teaches children to hate their classmates, and it lets teachers and their classmates bully white kids. Critical race theory teaches that whites are genetically bad and deserve to be hated and mistreated.” Again, not that facts matter, but statistics on bullying are quite clear that children from minority groups—whether that’s students with disabilities, LGBTQ+ students, or racial minority students, are overwhelmingly the ones being bullied.
This is sadly where we’re at as a country. The far right is using CRT as a cudgel to try to scare white parents into voting conservatives into local offices so that their children won’t be “bullied in school for being white.” Thinking for just a minute about the countless fears Black parents throughout the history of America have had about the lives and futures of their children, it’s almost too ridiculous to imagine that we’ve reached this place today, but here we are.