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  • Jonathan Emord

Virginia Board of Education Controversy Rages On

Controversy over the removal of parents’ rights advocate Suparna Dutta from the Virginia Board of Education continues to rage. Vigorous efforts by board member Anne Holton and her husband, Democrat Sen. Tim Kaine, to change the narrative have failed. Virginians remain livid that Dutta, the only representative of parents’ rights against far-leftb indoctrination of students, was removed from the Board. The action followed Dutta’s disagreement with Holton and thereafter a vicious, defamatory campaign that labeled her — a woman of color from India who fights racism — a “white supremacist.”

Dutta’s offense was to dare challenge Anne Holton for condemning the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution as documents that “enshrined slavery” and protected only “white property-owning men.” That false, propagandistic rewrite of history by Holton, in full alignment with Marxist Critical Race Theory, is angering parents who are fed up with the public schools’ teaching of the same divisive, racist, and destructive dogma.

Gov. Glenn Youngkin appointed Suparna Dutta to the Virginia BOE in July of 2022. He wanted a parents’ rights advocate on the Board to help ensure that Marxist Critical Race Theory (racism) and gender orientation politics would be rooted out of Virginia schools. A significant number of Northern Virginia parents who previously voted Democrat switched to vote for Youngkin in no small measure precisely because of his commitment to end far-left indoctrination in the schools.

An American born in India who left that socialist country for freedom in America, Dutta united hundreds of parents whose children attended or applied to Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJ) against the racist “equity” policies adopted by TJ’s administration and the Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS). On a merit basis, Asian students represented about 70% of TJ’s student population in 2021. Under the banner of the FCPS’s race-conscious “equity” agenda, TJ cut 20% of qualified Asians from admission to the school last year in favor of less qualified children — a Marxist leveling move in a continuing effort to substitute racist decision-making for color-blind meritocracy in the schools.

Dutta led TJ parents in successful litigation against the racist admissions policy. A federal district court held the race-based exclusion of Asians unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. TJ is appealing that decision.

The Virginia BOE is now a peculiar group whose members all but fawn over former Virginia Education Secretary Holton, rarely if ever dissenting from her opinions. Dutta’s objection to Holton’s condemnation of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution thus came as an unwelcome surprise to the partisan group. Holton was Education Secretary under former Gov. Terry McAuliffe. During her tenure, the Department introduced Critical Race Theory to Virginia Schools. Undaunted by that fact, Tim Kaine claimed, as did McAuliffe, that Critical Race Theory was not being taught in Virginia schools. In an interview from 2020 with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, Kaine called Critical Race Theory in Virginia schools an issue that had been “invented and inflated.”

But Northern Virginia parents knew better. During the pandemic, they saw CRT being taught to their kids on their home computer screens, and they were appalled. It was rank, old-fashioned racism, as one courageous student in a Loudoun County high school explained to a hopelessly woke teacher while that teacher dogmatically demanded that the student accept the false premises of CRT in online classroom instruction. To his great credit, the student assiduously refused and out-witted his teacher.

At the Virginia BOE meeting in early February, the Board discussed Youngkin’s proposed history and social studies standards of learning for Virginia Schools. Among the proposals was the following accurate representation: “The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are remarkable documents that provide the freedoms and framework for our constitutional republic.” But Holton took umbrage at this historical fact. She told the Board that the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution “enshrine” slavery. She said, “You cannot reference the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution as ‘remarkable documents’ without also acknowledging that they [are] fundamental to enshrining slavery, and limiting the protections that they provided only to white property-owning men.”

Holton’s statement is fraught with historical inaccuracies, revealing her to be either ignorant of the relevant history or possessed of a propagandistic bias. In context, the Declaration of Independence does not enshrine slavery; it rejects it. At the same time Thomas Jefferson penned the extraordinary phrase “All Men are created equal,” he drafted a 168-word paragraph in which he condemned George III for enslaving people in the colonies in violation of their rights.

Jefferson’s views were not unique but were widely shared by his fellow Founding Fathers. He wrote a pertinent passage: “He [George III] has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating & carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. This piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the Christian King of Great Britain.”

Georgia and South Carolina caused the paragraph to be struck from the final draft against Jefferson’s wishes, but it reveals beyond doubt that the breadth of Jefferson’s statement, “All Men are created equal,” very definitely includes men and women of all races. Consistent with John Locke’s second treatise on government, the term “men” is in context synonymous with humankind and is conveniently misinterpreted by Holton, against the historical record and context. Moreover, there is no reference to white property-owning men in the Declaration, so Holton’s attack is unfounded.

Holton’s rewrite of history constitutes an act of biased propaganda. Her statement is an affront not only to all freedom-loving Americans who revere the Declaration but also to the Declaration’s author, Jefferson, who, while a slave owner, wrote a document that condemned slavery in recognition of its violation of human rights. Thus, Kaine errs profoundly and consequentially when she calls the Declaration “fundamental to enshrining slavery” and “limiting the protections … provided to white property-owning men.” Suparna Dutta was right, indeed invaluable, in calling Holton out on her misrepresentations.

Holton misrepresents the Constitution, as well. While the original included the three-fifths clause for counting slaves in determining representation in Congress and banned Congress from ending the importation of slaves for twenty years, it did not “enshrine slavery” but anticipated its demise. Consistent with the intent of Jefferson, Madison, and Washington, the Founding Fathers planned to end the slavery imposed on the colonies by George III within twenty years of the Constitution’s enactment by cutting off the slave trade. And, in fact, in the Act to Prohibit the Importation of Slaves, Congress in that twentieth year banned the importation of slaves on March 2, 1807.

Slavery persisted as an evil in America and drove the Southern economy until the Civil War Amendments— the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery; the 14th Amendment granting citizenship to all born in the United States; and the 15th Amendment giving the rights of citizenship, including the right to vote, regardless of race and color. Those amendments represent not an “enshrining of slavery” but the logical extension of a movement begun with the Declaration to rid America of slavery.

Rather than teach our children to condemn our founding documents as inextricably racist, we ought to celebrate them for what they are: the most extraordinary defenses of individual liberty and sovereignty in the history of the world.

Concerned that his wife’s condemnation of the Constitution and Declaration had upset Virginians, Sen. Kaine jumped into the fray to quell the unrest. In an interview with WSET, he performed a classic political bait and switch. He said his wife recognized that the “Constitution and the Declaration of Independence are absolutely remarkable documents,” but that was a deflection that skirted the issue. Holton’s offense was her statement that the Declaration and Constitution “enshrine slavery” and protect only “white property-owning men.” Kaine ignores those falsehoods, either because he agrees with them or cannot defend them.

Another critical fact the Kaines seek to deflect attention from is this: they have uttered not a word in defense of Suparna Dutta, the victim of a vicious racist attack and smear campaign — of which they were intimately aware — following her objection to Holton’s statement. Nor did the Kaines object to, let alone oppose, the Democrat-controlled Virginia senate in its infamous vote along party lines to remove Dutta. They have thus condoned the mistreatment of Dutta — the very racism they wrongly ascribe to the Declaration and Constitution.

In their rush to defend themselves from public ire, the Kaines focus entirely on controlling the damage done by themselves to themselves. They devote not a moment’s thought to a just woman whose reputation has been destroyed as a result of their own actions and inactions.

This article was written on March 16, 2023, and published on PJ Media

Jonathan Emord is a leading constitutional law and litigation expert, the author of five critically acclaimed books, and a Candidate for the US Senate.


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