John Klar: How Vermont progressives avoid discussing race

Pretending to display some long-overdue discussion about race in Vermont, the pseudo-enlightened atmosphere of “Black Lives Matter” flags in schools and front yards is in fact an illusion. Any honest discussion requires two sides, but “social-justice” ideology does not tolerate disagreement, as efforts to exchange opinions on the “race issue” reveal. Those who cannot win an argument in the light of reason, yell.

Extremist protesters “demonstrated” their unwillingness to even listen to Professor Ryszard Legutko, the Polish member of the European Parliament whose speaking engagement at Middlebury College marked the second time free expression was rudely suppressed there. The central premise of Professor Legutko’s writings is that any monolithic ideology that suppresses free exchange of ideas is a threat to liberty, and that this modern “liberal-democratic” political ideology is every bit — if not much more — hostile toward opposing ideas than Soviet communism.

John Klar

Vermonters have ample evidence of this ideological strangulation beyond the rude treatment of scholars at prestigious Middlebury. Any effort to even question the BLM ideology has been met with very un-Vermonty toxicity, including by government entities at all levels. Race-based policies that distribute wealth or opportunity solely based on skin color have been (unconstitutionally) implemented: no questions may be asked.

Consider these examples.

In a 2018 article in VTDigger titled “White supremacist threatens Montpelier flag protest,” the title characterizes a person’s political protest as a “threat.” But more tellingly, this article was written, edited and published with a headline labeling a person a “White Supremacist” for the following statement: a person who calls himself Russell James said that he and others will protest at the school over what he said was a lack of “concern for the lives of White residents of Montpelier.”

Change the word “white” to black and you are a hero; dare question the heroics, and you are demonized. The article proceeds to shamelessly connect this Vermonter with national right-wing groups. Here is the pattern of intolerant ideology in our (so-called) media.

Last summer, many Vermonters were rightly upset when the Montpelier City Council used a public street to paint the ideological BLM message. I applied to paint “Liberty and Justice For All” beside that painting, as an effort to forge a centrist race message — as I said explicitly in the application. I had undertaken the initiative because the “All Lives Matter” slogan was counterproductive; the BLM message is equally provocative. One city councilor rejected my application before the hearing, and he and others labeled me a racist with no basis other than my disagreement with their race-based ideology. But just days before, in announcing their elitist stand for social justice, the City Council proclaimed their “commitment … to complex and ongoing discussion.”
Ahead of the vote, they briefly discussed how some critics wondered on social media if the painting will do anything to effect real change or if it’ll simply be lip service. City leaders countered that it is vital to have complex and ongoing discussions about equality, and said the painting is a way of demonstrating that commitment.

About 25 other Vermonters joined me to re-file that application, in an effort to shield it from the shallow charge of racism. That too was rejected by a visibly ruffled and intolerant Council, on silly pretexts of as-yet-unenacted rule changes created to prevent any views that might cause any complexity of discussion. In both hearings, BIPOC GOP candidate Alice Flanders was visibly, if uncomfortably, ignored.

A school principal was dismissed abruptly simply for observing that BLM shouldn’t be too heavy-handed. (Sound familiar? Like a guest professor who says the left stifles free speech being prevented from speaking?)

A town manager was compelled to publicly apologize for stating “all lives matter.” So much for complexity or conversation. The only “commitment” that is consistent is the visible determination to stifle any opposing views — especially white, conservative, or male views.

Not only can one not challenge BLM, it is now politically prohibited to defend Vermont’s cultural history as tolerant. In at least three instances, people submitted commentaries to VTDigger that related historical factual data about Vermont — namely, that the first black college graduate here (from Middlebury College) became the only black legislator in the nation before the war, that we were the first state to ban slavery,  and that black people do better here than in most states. All three were rejected because they “implied a denial of systemic racism.” These were facts, banned because they differed from the false ideological narrative. It’s one thing to ban statues of slaveholders; it’s another to tarnish and erase the truths about abolitionist Vermont. But lies can’t survive truth: truth destroys ideology.

Vermont’s House devotionals have now been hijacked by bully ideologues who champion a myriad of ancient grievances redirected against fictitious Vermont villains. These toxic tirades have continued despite much complaint, in an insult to the very concepts of civility and decency. Surely no one will be permitted to defend Vermont’s abolitionist history, as instead legislators have condemned Vermonters as systemically racist and complicit in slavery, land-theft, Japanese internment, and a host of other historic ills of which there is just no factual record of complicity by our forebears. This is a one-sided abuse of speech to berate and enslave, not an exchange by any means. It is thuggery.

There are innumerable additional examples of this censorship, including BLM and LGBTQ flags at schools, churches, and other public buildings. Anyone who dares question these is scorned, doxxed, or ridiculed as an intolerant racist whose views must be crushed. This is anything but civil exchange, yet it is exactly the methodology of old-guard communism, and of its modern, more-stifling counterpart. Legutko warns that this tyrannical stifling is consistent with this new “only our side is right” ideology:

The government is not the only agent that is supposed to oversee the rules of cooperation and fight against all the noncollaborative groups. Actually, this responsibility rests on everyone’s shoulders and everyone is responsible for tracking what is wrong and implementing what is right. In this respect, liberal democracy has achieved at least as much as communism and perhaps even more.

As Legutko explains, this dispute is not about race, but about ideology: Whoever is not a member of this quasi-party is the enemy, a sellout, and a traitor. A black American who condemns the absurdity of African-Americanism, regardless of his virtues and achievements, is considered as much a traitor to his race. A woman who rejects feminism for its crude and destructive ideological content is a traitor to the sisterhood.

Vermonters must be involved in an actual conversation about race, rather than oppressed using racist ideology. Once that happens, all will see that social-justice ideology is unconstitutional, completely false (especially when directed at Vermonters), toxically judgmental against others who are guilty of no wrongdoing, and insatiable in its demands — there will be no end to “raising awareness” via transferring money to and fro based on skin color.

I’m done listening to racists thugs. Does anyone else wish to join this conversation?

John Klar is an attorney and farmer residing in Brookfield, and the former pastor of the First Congregational Church of Westfield. © Copyright True North Reports 2021. All rights reserved.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Rhododendrites
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24 thoughts on “John Klar: How Vermont progressives avoid discussing race

  1. I would be interested in reading the three commentaries rejected by VTDIGGER because VTDIGGER said they “implied a denial of systemic racism ” .

  2. If everything white is bad according to black bigots, does eating vanilla ice cream make you a racist?

    • The white ice cream dominates the ice cream sandwich, making the brown wafer subservient and giving their life before and to protect the dominant vanilla white supremacist ice cream center.

      It’s on page 36 of Vermont’s new books for students in elementary school, entitled, “You and your racist ideas”. An introductory lesson for youth on how you can never overcome your racist mind.

      It’s all the rage with the tweens. The governor is working on an ice cream reparations tax, where Vanilla ice cream is taxed at 50%. Hope that clarifies things. It is hard to keep up.

  3. If you wanted to stop racism, who would you follow?

    Who has the answers to stop racism?

    If you wanted to stop, drug and alcohol abuse, obesity, fighting, ending of wars between the rich and the poor, to stop misandry and misogyny, protect the poor and the widows? End the corruption in government?

    Who has the answers to all of these? Trump and/or Biden? Phil Scott? Fauci? Molly Gray?

    There are answers to every one of these issues. The answers are from the basic understandings upon which our western civilization is founded, the teachings of which every American knew very well and our founders came here, landing in Massachusetts to practice.

    Seek and ye shall find.to we are experiencing in real time what happens when you follow the wrong teacher. The works of Alinsky, Bush, Trump, Biden, Obama, Xi, Scott, the United Nations, they will only bring us more of the same. The choice of direction is ours, where do we turn gain real wisdom? peace? Who do you love?

    • Neil –

      The “who do you love” part is easy – God! We are in a silent war of good against evil – I do believe God will reveal who he chooses us to follow and that person won’t be perfect, but he will be the right person for this job. We don’t need brick and mortar to communicate with God. I think many of the churches have failed their duties – that also will reveal itself in good time as will so much more.

      Great conversations here – call to action needed!!

      • I do not attend services but was once there when the doors opened. I get more out of EndTime Ministry and Joel Osteen than I ever did at church.

        The hypocracy is astonishing among the bat-blind who claim to believe and simply cannot suffer it on an ongoing basis. Glib dismissals such as “if you ever find the perfect church – leave you’ll ruin it” are used to dismiss this rankest of behavior. Ezek in ch 34 shows God summarily dismissing all religious leaders. Hold head high as a feral Christian.

  4. You have to get rid of people like Bernie Sanders and Patrick Leahy before anything is going to change in this state. The crew in Montpelier is just following their lead.

  5. The Socialists want to reify – or ‘to make real’ – Social Justice Theory into our culture and have it replace our Constitutional order. They want to institute it as a ‘known-known’, meaning it’s a given that it is true and hence no dissent is tolerated. They are building this meta-narrative of identity politics (race, sex, gender, etc.) to supplant our understanding of both the individual and our understanding of universal human rights… through the understanding of Natural Law. Individualism and universalism are the enemy of groupthink Identity Politics, particularly race based politics. The end-game is the destruction of any understanding of a transcendent being or God, making man god-like to rule over all the earth.

  6. Thanks Mr. Klar for addressing the issue of racism and what can seem at times like a total unwillingness to discuss the issue and how best to address it. Recently I commented both in our local listserv and on the editorial page of Herald of Randolph regarding a draft Anti-Racism Policy for the Strafford School District and other schools in the White River Valley Supervisor Union. I wrote on the need to broaden it from being only concerned with white racism, the predominate form in this country both in the past and today, but to also include racism over the course of history where it has been a pretty much a universal scourge. Racism has been and is primarily about how one group of people ( or even individuals) use of racial differences as a way to try to gain or maintain power over others. It is not a flaw confined to one particular race. Racism can be practiced by anyone at anytime and needs to be called out when it happens.

    My thoughts have garnered some pretty strong reactive push back, similar in some ways to what Mr. Klar writes about, but also some thoughtful responses. Here are some samples of the kind of dialog, which may be missing elsewhere but is still possible.

    This first one if from one of my former school bus riders and after he grew up and started his own business, a man I used as a contractor on many school projects:
    “I guess I’ll talk for myself, but I don’t need anybody to tell me I need to change how I treat people of color. I have no problem with people of color, treat people how you want to be treated no matter what the color and raise your children to be good decent people that add to society and not take away from it. I am just glad my kids are through the school system. I went to school in the 80’s and I didn’t think anything different than any of us. The only difference I saw was some had more money than others and that was about the biggest bias we had, and kids got picked on for what they wore for clothes or sneakers or what you rode for a bicycle, but for the most part we all became friends, still am with a lot of them and a lot still live in town. I think one thing that would help with racism is people telling others what they need to do. You do you and I’ll do me.”

    This second one is from a person I have been helping with haying for a few decades:
    “I must say that I have heard from several people in my life in Strafford 40 years ago, who while they said “they were not prejudice” had some pretty head in the sand opinions without even recognizing them as such. They were adults and not ever the kids I noticed, and they truly did not recognize the problem. Times have changed, but not enough and not everywhere. The issue does need to be put out and broader than any one group vs. any other. I think a big issue is avoiding the feeling that you or anyone else is under attack. Needs to education and awareness, not blame. I guess I would say, Yes, treat people the way you want to be treated but realize that some groups have been have not been treated that way for so long that trust is hard to come by.”

    • Thanks for this thoughtful contribution! There is a huge difference between saying “racism exists in some Vermonters” (which NO ONE denies) and saying “Vermont is founded on white supremacy.” And of course racism can be a two-way street: witness South Africa, or even our own urban streets. But one of the articles most invoked to label me as a racist is one I wrote years ago called “Black Racism Matters.” According to this absurdly stupid new ideology, ONLY white people can be racist. Which is, of course, one of the most racially sterotyping (i.e., racist) assertions I ever heard someone make with a straight face. We must oppose this degree of stupid. Unless we want generations of murderous zombie-children.

      • Mr. Klar,
        I appreciate your thoughts and posts and share with you a deep enjoyment of the poetry of Kentucky farmer Wendell Berry.

        I realize that you have been wronged and mistreated’ particularly by the Montpelier City Council. I hope you do not mind this suggestion, which is to consider toning down a little some of what you say. This is because outside of those who are already on board with your point of view, it may blur you message.

        Things like “generations of murderous zombie-children” for example have an echo of the extreme rhetoric often used by those on the far left who have also felt wronged in the past. This type of rhetoric while it can be satisfying for those using it, often ends up being highlighted and can obscure the underlying truth that is worth considering.

        Finally, for those unfamiliar with Wendell Berry here is a poem of his that captures today as we are out checking our sap buckets.

        “Through the weeks of deep snow
        we walked above the ground
        on fallen sky, as though we did
        not come of root and leaf, as though
        we had only air and weather
        for our difficult home.
        But now
        as March warms, and the rivulets
        run like birdsong on the slopes.
        and the branches of light sing in the hills,
        slowly we return to earth.”

  7. As a born, raised schooled 81 year old VT’er that put my life on the line for the state and country, I have become quite concerned about the mentality of people that have invaded Montpelier and changed the state. I’ve noted it started with MA Hoff. Many in Montpelier haven’t served in the military and really don’t know values nor have common sense. One in particular is Baruth, the fanatic anti-gun NY’er that seems to enjoy power to take basic rights of Vt’ers away. He’s afraid of people in hunting garb. There is a psychological problem with him. He needs removal. Chittenden county is loaded with his likeness. That’s a VT problem. Then there’s the Governor, one of the worse that hit Montpelier, a double whammy.
    Good people ran last time including yourself, but the political sheeple that always vote one way are unimaginative and don’t seek realism and won’t understand how their vote will affect them unless they are clueless, they don’t have more than one thought. So the Montpelier cess pool solids stay there and float to the top. It’s a big stink.

    Thanks for your writings and knowledge. I figure someday the political pendulum will traverse back. Hey, Mitzy Johnson is walking the streets again and not getting Gov perks courtesy of the taxpayer.

    • We should run as Dino’s……..

      It’s how they took over our party many years ago, running as Rinos.

    • Well said, Mr. Chase.

      I often joke that all candidates for President should be required to work in retail, or food service, for at least six months as a qualification for office. Perhaps that should be expanded to include military service…. (I did not serve, for the record: my knees were shot at age 12. But my father is a U.S. Marine, and I was taught respect and integrity, from birth.)

  8. If BLM wanted love, peace and equality we would have a completely different plan.

    Do you love your neighbor by fighting?
    How do you stop racism?
    Will the world ever be without racism?

    To rephrase, will the world ever be perfect?

    We can change our direction (repent), we can ask for forgiveness, we can forgive. Can we fight and buy our way to peace? There is a wonderful book on all of these topics, has all the answers too! I don’t recall it suggesting that fighting and money are the solution.

    We can love our neighbor, what more can we do?

    Interesting to note, another playbook written by a certain man from Chicago, and dedicated to a master trouble maker, has plans that are polar opposite of the book previously mentioned. Whose advice should we follow? Do our children and adults even know the difference between them, or what I’m even talking about?

  9. Progressivism is a rigidly dogmatic religion promoted (but not assiduously followed) by fanatics, no small number of whom are sociopaths. This is not uncommon for such religions, as can be seen throughout history. Characteristically, there is only one truth and it is by nature pure truth. It is heresy to question it; to do so invites persecution. Biden expressed it succinctly in his Iowa state fair speech: “We choose truth over facts.” The history of fanatic religions parallels that of other infectious organisms: They either mutate to become mainstream or they kill off/immunize enough of their vectors to no longer be transmitted and die out (in the case of religions this often means alienating and losing enough of their believers/promoters). Jonestown and Heaven’s gate are small scale examples. Or the state decides they’re a nuisance and eliminates them like the David Koresh Waco cult.

  10. The question has to be asked where did all of this racist ideology come from and why is it so prevalent now?

    • They have replaced the bible with rule for radicals…..two books with entirely different methods and results. Our kids are being taught the latter in school, the former has been banned.

      We’ve banned the book upon which western civilization is founded and considered a great book of literature by most. We reap what we sow.

  11. Well and fully discussed John Klar!!

    It is past time to consider John Klar as a force to be recognized,
    and reconed with ! !

    This has gone on long enough, and so extremely one sided,
    So against any precepts of civil discussion!!

    • I’m glad to hear you say so — that this has gone on long enough. As far as John Klar as a force — I am not the one to be reckoned with. The Vermonters and Vermont voters on whose behalf I speak ARE. The Vermont traditions, abolitionism, civility, and hard-won individualism that make us a unique yet humble people — THAT is what they have not reckoned with. For they know not what they do…..

      Everything I do, and write, is an effort to infuse blood into that body of Vermonters and their heritage, that they might take pride in themselves rather than be ruled over and condemned by invading colonizers. Because that is what this is. We didn’t know better when the eugenics movement arrived (same philosophical underpinnings). We do now. This has gone too far, and it is time for widespread accountability. Instead of apologies for pale skin color, I expect apologies from legislators who have played this for personal gain — including Governor Phil Scott and other GOP who have traitorously stabbed our state and its people in the back, and keep on stabbing. No more!!

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