by Hans Bader
Amazon donated hundreds of copies of a racist, error-filled book by a critical race theorist to Arlington County public schools. In doing so, the Seattle-based company helped poison young minds and taught high-school students falsehoods about America’s history and politics. It did this at the urging of a school official in Arlington.
The Free Beacon reports that “Amazon spent $5,000 to distribute hundreds of copies” of “Ibram X. Kendi’s book ‘Stamped’ to Virginia public school students.” The “key concept” Kendi teaches is that society needs to discriminate against whites to make up for past discrimination against blacks. Kendi says, “The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination. The only remedy to present discrimination is future discrimination.” Kendi once wrote an op-ed suggesting that white people are aliens from outer space.
Amazon, which is building its East Coast headquarters in Arlington, donated the copies of Kendi’s book after “Amazon employees reached out to Arlington Public Schools as part of ‘NeighborGood,’ a program to donate $100,000 to schools and other institutions that ’empower black voices and serve black communities.’” Continue reading
by Hans Bader
Recent spikes in violent crime aren’t due to COVID-19 or the economy, as suggested recently in a Virginian-Pilot article exploring causes of a spike in violence in Hampton Roads.
Murders frequently fall during recessions and times of economic hardship. In the U.S. homicides fell during the 2007-2009 recession. In many other countries, murder rates actually went down during the COVID-19 pandemic.
For example, the murder rate fell in London by 16% in 2020, even though England suffered more from the pandemic than America did. England suffered far more economic harm than America did, with England’s economy shrinking 9.9% during 2020, compared to 3.5% in America. As Nicole Gelinas notes in the New York Post, murders also fell in other major countries in 2020:
How about Italy, hit hard and early by the pandemic? There, murders fell by 14%, to 271 from 315.
France with its troubled banlieues? The country’s murders were down 2% in 2020, to 863. Continue reading
by Hans Bader
Does anyone seriously doubt that boys misbehave more than girls in school? Until recently, no one would have disputed that, as surveys of students show that boys get into fights at twice the rate girls do. In those same surveys, conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics, Blacks say they get into fights at more than twice the rate Whites do on school grounds.
But the nation’s Democratic attorney generals either don’t know about, or don’t believe, these surveys. Instead, they seem to believe that every racial or sexual group misbehaves at exactly the same rate. Every single Democratic state attorney general in America — all 24 of them, including Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring — recently cited the higher discipline rates of Blacks and boys, as causes for alarm, in a May 24 letter to the Education Secretary and U.S. Attorney General.
The letter urged the Biden administration to reinstate and expand the Obama administration’s school-discipline guidance, which encouraged schools to suspend Blacks and Whites at the same rate, to target not just statistical disparities based on race, but also disparities based on gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. Continue reading
Worth prosecuting anymore?
by Hans Bader
Progressive “reform” prosecutors want more criminal prosecutions of businesses for red-tape violations and so-called “wage theft,” and fewer felony prosecutions of criminals for stealing from businesses and homeowners (such as shoplifting, which some progressive prosecutors have essentially stopped prosecuting, resulting in an explosion of shoplifting).
Prosecuting “wage theft” was one of the campaign planks of Arlington, Va., Commonwealth’s Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Tafti, a progressive Democrat who unseated a moderate Democrat incumbent in the 2019 primary election. In her campaign, she said she wanted to prioritize prosecuting “wage theft,” even while complaining that Arlington prosecuted felonies at a much higher rate than neighboring jurisdictions like Alexandria. She also called for more use of “restorative justice” as a response to crimes committed by people with social or economic disadvantages. Continue reading
Arenda Wright Allen
by Hans Bader
Shouldn’t a judge at least know what’s in the Constitution, before getting a promotion? Left-wing trial judge Arenda Wright Allen confused the Declaration of Independence with the Constitution in her ruling striking down Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban, noted ABC News. Yet now she is being recommended for a promotion to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, by Virginia Senators Mark Warner (D) and Tim Kaine (D).
The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that in “a letter Monday the senators recommended U.S. District Court judges Arenda Wright Allen and M. Hannah Lauck and Virginia Solicitor General Toby J. Heytens” for elevation to the Fourth Circuit.
In 2014, ABC’s Erin Dooley wrote about how Judge Allen attributed a phrase to the Constitution that it doesn’t contain: Continue reading
GMU President Gregory Washington
by Hans Bader
The president of George Mason University wants to give minorities a big advantage in hiring until the faculty is as heavily minority as the school’s student body and the future, mostly non-white U.S. population. This is illegal, say lawyers and law professors. Indeed, GMU’s president, Gregory Washington, recognized that objection in an April 15 email to the university’s faculty, before saying it wouldn’t stop him from giving minorities a preference in hiring. Washington quoted a professor as saying:
I am concerned about what it really means to hire faculty and staff that ‘reflect the student population.’ The university’s job as an R1 institution is to hire the best faculty and administrators, period. The type of target hiring of minorities proposed through ARIE is both prejudicial and illegal. I would like to have this addressed.
In response, GMU’s president wrote, “If you have two candidates who are both ‘above the bar’ in terms of requirements for a position, but one adds to your diversity and the other does not, then why couldn’t that candidate be better, even if that candidate may not have better credentials than the other candidate? Study after study has proven that the most diverse organizations, which recognize the importance of maintaining a diverse and inclusive environment, are the best performing organizations.” Continue reading
by Hans Bader
After the murder conviction of the policeman who killed George Floyd, Virginia’s progressive politicians are calling for passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which would allow police departments to be sued when police stops aren’t racially and sexually balanced.
Congressman Bobby Scott (VA-03) said, “This verdict is a start, but it does not absolve Congress and the federal government of our responsibility to reform policing across the country, and it is a reminder of the need for the Senate to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.”
Virginia’s senior Senator, Mark Warner, called on his Senate colleagues to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act: “George Floyd’s life mattered. Justice has been served…we owe it to Mr. Floyd, his family, and far too many others like him to take meaningful action to reform our policing system. We can start by passing the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.”
Joe Biden also backs this bill. But it has a downside: it could lead to more racial and sexual profiling, such as gender-based stops of female motorists, or racial or gender quotas for police stops. Continue reading
by Hans Bader
Can a state punish its school teachers for not having a progressive ideology? That’s what Virginia’s Board of Education appears to be doing. Its newly adopted “performance standard” for teacher evaluations is based on whether a “teacher demonstrates a commitment to equity and provides instruction and classroom strategies that result in culturally inclusive and responsive learning environments and academic achievement for all students.”
This standard is full of buzzwords and ideologically-charged phrases that can be used to punish conservative teachers or reward bad teachers for mouthing politically-correct platitudes. Its adoption will make it even harder to get rid of bad teachers and attract good teachers.
A “commitment to equity” sounds nice until you learn that “equity” means something very different from equality and non-discrimination, in “Virginia’s Roadmap to Equity.” In that book, “equity” is about racial “outcomes,” and it is not about equal “opportunities” or achievement based on “ability.” It describes “culturally responsive educators” as those who fight “injustice,” not just “racism,” or effectively teaching minority children. Continue reading
by Hans Bader
School systems now routinely subject students and staff to racist scapegoating under the guise of promoting “diversity” or “anti-racism.” Radio broadcaster Rob Schilling reports on one example in Virginia: the Albemarle County Public Schools’ hiring of diversity-trainer Glenn Singleton. Singleton’s firm is getting paid a whopping $15,000 to give a one-hour seminar. Singleton blames white teachers for poor performance by black students, even as he promotes offensive racial stereotypes, claiming that “white talk” is “verbal, impersonal, intellectual” and “task-oriented,” while minority talk is “emotional.”
As Schilling notes, progressive Albemarle County requires “all school division employees” to “participate in a compulsory one-hour race-intensive Zoom seminar” by Singleton on March 26. The schools are paying “$15,000 (plus additional technology expenses of approximately $1,000)” for this brief seminar. And that’s not the whole cost: “A schools’ spokesperson was unable to ascertain” the cost to pay hundreds of “employees not otherwise working at the time of the presentation.” Continue reading
By Hans Bader
Virginia is apparently giving preference to certain clusters of minority residents in access to the COVID-19 vaccine, as Judicial Watch notes:
In the next few weeks, the state will give preference to black and Latino residents 65 and over while much older white seniors, many in their 80s, cannot secure an appointment to get inoculated. The plan was announced a few days ago by Dr. Danny Avula, who was appointed by Governor Ralph Northam this year to be the state’s vaccine coordinator…. In recent weeks, [a news] article says, roughly 10,000 vaccines were channeled specifically toward trusted clinics in neighborhoods with older black residents… the reporter cites “some experts” that have raised concern over age-based vaccine prioritization because it fails to account for lower expectancies among black and Latino communities, though it does concede that 75% of Virginia’s deaths are among those over 70….
by Hans Bader
The General Assembly is moving toward requiring history teachers to study black history. SB 1196, passed by the state senate, would mandate teachers seeking a license or license renewal to have training in “cultural competency” and complete board-approved instruction in African American history.
I worry about these “cultural competency” requirements, and whether schools will teach bizarre racial stereotypes under the guise of cultural competency. For example, the Seattle Schools, under the guise of teaching cultural competence, made bizarre claims, such as that individualism is racism, that only whites can be racists, and that “future time orientation” – planning ahead – is a stereotypically white characteristic that minorities shouldn’t be expected to exhibit. As a black Supreme Court Justice disapprovingly noted in a 2007 ruling, “The Seattle school district’s Website formerly contained the following” examples of what it called “cultural racism’: “emphasizing individualism as opposed to a more collective ideology” and “defining one form of English as standard.”
These disturbing claims came from Pacific Education Group, one of America’s most famous diversity-training firms, which has been hired by school districts in Virginia, Maryland, and many other states. It has promoted some of the crudest imaginable racial stereotypes, such as claiming that “white talk” is “verbal, impersonal, intellectual” and “task-oriented,” while black talk is “emotional.”
Let’s hope that the Pacific Education Group is not involved in designing Virginia’s Black History curriculum. In the meantime, it is now Black History Month and Virginians should consider inoculating themselves against Critical Race Theory-infused thinking by reading about one of America’s great thinkers and orators, Frederick Douglass. Continue reading
by Hans Bader
Pay regulations that are a manageable hassle for the biggest employers can be a nightmare for small employers. One example is SB 1228, a bill pending in the Virginia legislature. If enacted, it would keep employers from setting employee pay based on employees’ past wages, even though wages are usually a sign of what an employee is worth, and often reveal more about an employee’s role in a company than the employee’s mere job title reveals. It would forbid any employer in Virginia, regardless of size, to “rely on the wage history of a prospective employee” in determining the employee’s wage. It would also forbid them from seeking “the wage history of a prospective employee.”
Since federal law permits such wage-setting, and small businesses often don’t have lawyers, some small businesses will likely get sued for violating it, before they even learn about the existence of this law.
SB 1228 also defines certain pay differences as discrimination even when they are unlikely to be due to bias — especially when they occur at small employers, where such pay differences affect only an isolated number of employees, and thus are statistically insignificant. SB 1228 requires pay equity for businesses of all sizes, for all protected classifications — not just sex, but also marital status, religion, race, disability, etc. Continue reading
by Hans Bader
Governor Ralph Northam and other Democratic Party leaders are backing legislation to abolish the death penalty. But that’s not all. A newly submitted bill would abolish life sentences without parole, even for serial killers and those who once would have been sentenced to death.
The powerful head of the state senate’s Courts of Justice Committee, Sen. John Edwards, D-Roanoke, has just introduced a bill, SB 1370, to bring back parole and retroactively make people eligible for parole even if they were sentenced at a time at which there was no parole. Parole will be made available even to people who commit “a Class 1 felony,” which includes the worst murders, such as serial killers who commit the “willful, deliberate, and premeditated killing of more than one person” in a single crime spree. If the death penalty is abolished, this legislation would mean that even the worst murderers could be paroled. Continue reading
Slippery slope: Abolish the death penalty…. eliminate life sentences… empty the prisons.
by Hans Bader
Virginia’s governor and the head of a key legislative subcommittee are backing legislation to abolish the death penalty in Virginia and overturn existing death sentences.
In theory, the death penalty could save lives by deterring people from committing murder. Several studies found that it deters killings of innocent people. As the Associated Press noted in 2007, “Each execution deters an average of 18 murders, according to a 2003 nationwide study by professors at Emory University. (Other studies have estimated the deterred murders per execution at three, five, and 14).”
The death penalty also can prevent additional murders by prisoners serving life sentences. Being executed is the only thing that stops some murderers from killing again. Consider the case of Robert Gleason. He had been sentenced to life in prison without parole for murder. He beat his cellmate to death while in Wallens Ridge State Prison. Afterwards, while awaiting trial on that charge at Red Onion State Prison, he murdered another inmate. He then declared that he would continue killing until the state executed him. He was sentenced to death and moved to Sussex I State Prison, home of death row. Continue reading
Sen. Ben Chafin
by Hans Bader
Virginia’s state senate had a narrow Democratic majority, with 21 Democrats and 19 Republicans. Then, on January 1, Republican Sen. Ben Chafin died. Virginia’s Democratic governor has deliberately delayed filling the seat so that progressive bills will be able to pass the state legislature more easily, and without being moderated by the amendment process.
Keeping the seat vacant will make it easier to pass progressive bills even when not all Democrats vote for them — such as when a relatively moderate Democratic senator votes against a bill to release criminals earlier. That occasionally happened in 2020, such as when a Democratic senator voted against lowering the age of geriatric release for some criminals to age 50.
Keeping the seat vacant ignores the governor’s duty to call special elections to fill vacancies that result from a legislator dying. Virginia Code Section § 24.2-216 provides: “The Governor shall issue a writ of election to fill the [House or Senate] vacancy. If the vacancy occurs during the session of the General Assembly, the Speaker of the House of Delegates or the President pro tempore of the Senate, as the case may be, shall issue the writ unless the respective house by rule or resolution shall provide otherwise.”
(Update: A special election was announced this afternoon, for the ridiculously late date of March 23 — after the regular legislative session ends! That’s nearly three months after the seat became vacant. By contrast, Governor Northam filled a Democratic seat in Prince William County less than a month after a Democratic legislator resigned. Delegate Jennifer Foy resigned from the House of Delegates on December 8, 2020. Her successor was elected in a special election on January 6, 2021.)