There have been a variety of candidate forums here in Fairfax County recently and conservatives have been offering a consistent theme of trying not to come across as bigots, but using language that demonizes minorities and those standing up for diversity. A prime example of this came over the weekend at the Arab American Candidates Night Dinner.
“Today we’re out to victimize each other and we’re out to victimize our children, and we’re not serving them well,” Andi Bayer, the Republican endorsed candidate for school board in the Providence District, told the crowd. “I see see social emotional weakness and we need to stop it now. And tonight I’ve heard a lot of victimization.”
This has been a consistent message from Republican candidates as they’ve been desperately trying to stir up conflict by claiming Democrats are trying to conduct “social engineering” (as Zia Tompkins called it) through policies like One Fairfax. They’ve also been claiming Democrats allow MS13 and other gangs to thrive because people have expressed concern about the Trump Administration’s immigration policies and how they impact the local police force’s relationship with ICE (a theme Srilekha Palle constantly harps on).
Not only is this supposed to make Democrats look bad, but it ends up demonizing people of color. That hasn’t stopped the GOP from using it, however, even after people have raised this concern with candidates. It’s with that in mind that people have started explicitly calling the Republicans out for being two faced and trying to stir up tension in the community.
During his time to speak at the Arab American Candidate’s Night Dinner, Karl Frisch, the Democratic endorsed candidate for school board in Providence, spoke about how the community deserves better than the rhetoric conservatives are using.
“We live in an extremely diverse community,” Frisch said. “To see candidates coming before you and talking lip service to those value and then taking to Facebook and other organizations talking about how diversity is a fad. And how One Fairfax is authoritarian. We deserve so much better. You deserve people who will come before you and speak straight to you about their values.”
“I’m running because I believe every child regardless of who they are, where they live, who they pray to, where they’re from, or how much money their parents have, deserve an opportunity to succeed in this district,” Karl added. “That’s not a statement about victimization. That’s a statement about encouraging and ensuring opportunity. And if you have school board candidates coming before you to and telling you that what you saw tonight was victimization, that’s a problem. What you saw tonight was a statement of celebration.”
While the school board often doesn’t receive a lot of attention, it’s a position that requires people to come together and make some tough decisions. We need people who will be willing to do the hard work of looking into what can be done to strengthen an already incredible school system and make sure the public has an opportunity to give its input. The divisiveness and utter disregard for large portions of our community the Republican candidates have displayed is the exact opposite of what Fairfax County needs.
For those who are interested, here’s some footage of the Arab American Candidates Night Dinner that Karl Frisch posted:
(h/t to Lowell Feld of Blue Virginia)