In the ongoing educational tug of war being waged in upscale Loudon County, VA, a Chinese mother who escaped the horrors of Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution recently gave powerful testimony in front of the local school board. Held to just one minute of talking time, Xi Van Fleet nonetheless managed to make a powerful impression both locally and nationally when she decried the brushfire speed at which CRT (Critical Race Theory) is being implemented in curricula across the country.
Van Fleet made the most of her limited time, recalling her childhood during Mao’s Cultural Revolution when the Party ignited a class war among the citizenry. The loss of cultural artifacts destroyed by the Communist ideologues seeking to erase the past was astonishing and deeply lamented. These included any items considered “old” or historical — cultural touchstones that were smashed or otherwise destroyed.
But these erasures paled in comparison to the human suffering. Estimates are that somewhere between half a million to two million people died between 1966 and 1976 as a direct result of the state-fomented discontent. It began, Van Fleet recalled, with incidents like the teacher at her school who was spat on by a punishing mob for being pretty and for wearing what was termed “bourgeoise” clothing.
Van Fleet remembered that she was six years old when the CCP began hanging “big posters” around her school that pitted students against teachers by encouraging them to write down those suspected of ideological impurities. Very soon, this groupthink escalated to violence, and no one was safe — save those who pledged utter loyalty and commitment to Chairman Mao and his scorched-earth cultural reckoning. In her brief testimony, Van Fleet spoke about one of the most terrible chapters in world history and its worrying parallels to this American moment. She stated:
“I’ve been very alarmed by what’s going on in our schools. You are now teaching, training our children to be social justice warriors and to loathe our country and our history.”
Van Fleet brought a dark chapter of history alive for those with no knowledge of the Chinese Cultural Revolution or only a cursory understanding of its atrocities. She described the genesis of “thought crimes,” which became sticks with which to beat the non-compliant into obeisance. She recalled:
“We were taught to denounce our heritage, and Red Guards destroyed anything that is not communist … statues, books and anything else. We were also encouraged to report on each other, just like the Student Equity Ambassador program and the bias reporting system. We were asked to report if we hear anything about someone saying anything showing that there’s a lack of complete loyalty to Mao. There were people reporting their parents, and their parents ended up in jail.”
Van Fleet is not alone in speaking out. Parents around the country are galvanizing to oppose the lightning speed at which CRT is being braided into educational curricula across America. The bedrock assumptions of this theory — that the immutable characteristic of race should be privileged over all other considerations, that America is foundationally and fundamentally racist, that equity will redress societal imbalances, and that white people are oppressors — are being challenged as more and more Americans speak up. Groups such as PDE (Parents Defending Education) are beginning to flex their political muscles, inspiring other groups around the country to form and speak out in opposition to the sweeping educational changes afoot across all 50 states.
Meanwhile, an immigrant to this country who escaped the subjugation is speaking out with firsthand knowledge of the fateful maxim about those who forget history are condemned to repeat it. Van Fleet issued a warning it would be foolhardy to ignore:
“I just want Americans to know that their privilege is to be here living in America, that is just the biggest privilege. I do not think a lot of people understand. They are thinking they are doing the right thing. Be against racism sounds really good. But they are basically breaking the system that is against racism. This is indeed the American version of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. The critical race theory has its roots in cultural Marxism. It should have no place in our school.”
With an array of “thought crimes” being punished every day by Silicon Valley and dissenting perspectives on CRT being widely demonized, Van Fleet and those who think likewise are sounding an urgent clarion call.
Will America hear the alarm?
Read more from author Pennel Bird.