When it comes to the Fairfax County School Board, the Republican candidates have made some extremely inappropriate comments throughout this year’s campaign. That’s why the Washington Post took the time to emphasize the “vitriolic” and “poisonous tone” resulting from the Republicans running for school board taking “a page from President Trump’s playbook of trafficking in fear, misinformation and demonization” when it made its endorsements.
For just a flavor of some of their remarks, Vinson Palathingal said we’re giving too much attention for students with disabilities such as “silly things like ADD” and Elizabeth Schultz made controversial remarks about how the Holocaust is being taught and then said wealthy Jewish people are bullying her through “hard left advocacy organizations” that use methods promoted by a Jewish community organizer. And those are just a few of the tamer remarks they’ve been making and don’t even highlight the lies they’ve been spreading about One Fairfax.
Of course, we also have Andi Bayer, who’s said we’re wasting money on mental health and teacher training while creating a “child centered utopia,” claimed LGBT students are the “loudest special interest group” and the school board shouldn’t pay attention to the bullying they face, and told the audience at an Arab American Candidates Night Dinner that she sees “social emotional weakness” and “a lot of victimization” when people speak about diversity.
It appears as though Andi Bayer wasn’t done proving how out of touch she is because she came up with a new way of doing so at the Congregation Olam Tikvah synagogue in Fairfax. During a candidate forum there, she said the large number of ethnic restaurants in Fairfax County was an example of how people of color can’t really be facing systemic issues like less discipline disparities in our school system.
“I beg you to read the Daily Caller article,” Bayer said in reference to a website that has ties to the alt-right and featured the writings of the white nationalist who organized the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville. “This is manufactured into the community, infusion of huge donor based money, to fix problems that nobody ever complained about.”
“We celebrate our diversity. Look at the restaurants,” Bayer added. “When I go out to eat, I don’t want to eat American food.”
She then went on to continue the misinformation campaign the Republicans have been running by evoking the rhetoric used by people who opposed school integration by suggesting One Fairfax was going to result in students being bused all over the county based on their race. This is simply untrue and is an attempt to scare voters into voting for Republicans.
She continued the scare tactics when, much like Elizabeth Schultz has done in right wing radio interviews, Bayer tried to scare people into thinking this was a huge conspiracy funded by wealthy liberals (and Schultz always highlights the wealthy Jewish people who apparently support her opponents) that would eventually impact home values and make traffic in the region worse.
When it came to his opportunity to respond, Karl Frisch made it clear he actually understood how we can work to embrace diversity and make sure communities who haven’t traditionally had their voices heard in government proceedings will have an opportunity to become further engaged in how our schools are run.
“If your idea of whether there people from our diverse communities who have complaints about how things are, if your answer to that question is where you go eat dinner,” Karl said, “you are having the wrong conversation.”
“You cannot celebrate our diversity by victim blaming. You cannot celebrate our diversity by ignoring problems that are systemic,” Karl added. “The answer to looking at the achievement gap or discipline disparities that students of color face in our schools is not to ignore it and just say pull yourself up by your bootstraps.”
As Election Day is rapidly approaching and people from a wide variety of backgrounds are expressing concern about the rhetoric and misinformation campaign the Republicans are using, most reasonable folks thought they might dial back the rhetoric. But it actually seems like it’s getting worse the closer we get to the election. It’s almost as if the Fairfax County Republican Party and its candidates realize they’ve been outed as extremists who are spreading misinformation, so they feel as though they minus well embrace it and be open about it.
For those who are interested, you can see the footage of the remarks by both Andi Bayer and Karl Frisch by following this link.