by James C. Sherlock
Virginia Republicans, not noted for organization, common approaches or dexterity, have been granted a gift by Democrats if they will accept it.
The Democratic majority in the General Assembly rejected the appointment of Suparna Dutta, a mother, engineer and an immigrant from India, to the Board of Education.
This happened because Senate Democrats, stalwarts of the left flank of the culture wars, were badgered and finally whipped into a unanimous vote against Ms. Dutta by a strange but tight-knit political relationship between leftists and Muslim activists centered in Northern Virginia.
Leftists, led by Randi Weingarten’s American Federation of Teachers outpost, Virginia Educators United, considered Ms. Dutta too patriotic. And anti-socialist.
The Muslim cabal, led by the Virginia Council of Muslim Organizations and Gov. Northam’s notorious (too many Asians) Secretary of Education Atif Qarni, considered her, well, too Hindu.
The Virginia Council of Muslim Organizations, vocal in support of freedom of speech for the highly controversial Abrar Omeish, does not offer the same to Ms. Dutta.
Her offense? She had been in a board meeting with Anne Holton, the wife of Sen. Tim Kaine. They were discussing the K-12 History Standards of Learning.
Ms. Holton said that she was “not comfortable” with calling the Constitution and the Declaration remarkable documents without qualifiers. And she defended strong central government planning and socialism as compatible with democracy and freedom.
Ms. Dutta debated her on those points.
That led, as such things do in modern America, to Ms. Dutta being called a “white supremacist” by progressives.
And officially designated as one by the unanimous vote of General Assembly Senate Democrats.
The Constitution. Let’s dispose of Ms. Holton’s contention about the Constitution first. The American Constitution is objectively a “remarkable document.”
It was the first single-document constitution and is the longest-lived. It’s at-the- time unique provision for an amendment process is what has made it last this long.
Consider the Constitution’s worldwide influence:
The American Constitution formalized the concepts required to make such a system work: the separation of powers and the system of checks and balances. The result balances leadership and minimizes abuse, encourages stability and obviates tyranny.
It is now universally understood—as it was by a vocal American citizenry that backed the bill of rights 200 years ago—that fundamental freedoms cannot be guaranteed merely by good intentions. The ratifiers of the U.S. Constitution taught that there could be no fundamental law of the land without a separate section listing individual rights. With the adoption of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982, the United Kingdom is the only major nation without a constitutional Bill of Rights, although such has been proposed. The belief that liberties require an explicit statement in order to assure their protection animates political endeavors and constitutionalism throughout the world today.
The debate. An immigrant who learned America’s founding documents as a requirement for citizenship, Ms. Dutta may have wondered why, if the Constitution enshrined slavery, we do not still have slavery, and we do still have the Constitution.
She had publicly stated on February 1
I understand it’s hideous… for a person to be considered anything other than one whole, it’s unimaginable and it’s abominable. It’s just a fact that it was a compromise… to limit the congressional representation of the Southern states. The Constitution did not end slavery, but it never would have been ratified had it done so.
So she has stated that slavery was “hideous.” Her description of the 3/5 compromise was as accurate as her description of slavery. There never would have been a United States — or a constitution — without it.
But being repulsed by slavery and offering an accurate description of the enacting of the Constitution were not good enough.
Because she is also anti-socialist and a Hindu — her unforgivable sins to the coalition arrayed against her.
Born and raised in a socialist country, she may have wondered what experience Ms. Holton brought to the table to declare socialism compatible with democracy and freedom. That is only true if one both:
- believes that democracy invests a right in the majority to vote itself other peoples’ property; and
- ignores the fact that socialists deny the concept of private property itself.
Ms. Dutta quoted her Encyclopedia Britannica as defining socialism as a “doctrine that calls for public rather than private ownership or control of property and natural resources. As socialists see it, true freedom and true equality require social control of the resources that provide the basis for prosperity in any society.”
Ms. Dutta, unlike the American patrician Ms. Holton, did not need an encyclopedia to know the depredations of socialism. She was raised in India.
Bottom line. Overarching all of that is the official silencing of Ms. Dutta. She could not be allowed to disagree with Ms. Holton. Her views could not be represented on the Board of Education.
I never want to hear a Virginia Democrat again say he or she is for the open debate of ideas. Those who say they support free speech must explicitly reject the unanimous vote of the Democrats in the Virginia Senate.
Republican General Assembly candidates must be wise enough to accept that gift – to force their Democratic opponents
- to state their positions on America in general and the Declaration of Independence and Constitution in particular;
- to declare whether socialism is their goal, and explain what socialism means to them; and
- to say whether they consider Ms. Dutta a white supremacist and if so why and if not, why not.
An organized political party would coordinate the pressure. Create common ads. Flood social media. Demand debates on the issues. The campaign literature writes itself.
What passes for the Republican Party of Virginia will let us know soon enough if it is a real political party.
Progressives, for their part, should welcome the opportunity to put their views to a vote in November.