American Thinker on July 10 published my commentary titled “Vermont’s governor calls his own state’s people irredeemably racist.” A few voices have mumbled the word “libelous” in reference to my piece, because in truth Gov. Phil Scott has never stated (that I am aware) that Vermonters are “irredeemably racist.”
Also in truth, the one thing I did not write in that blog was the title. I always submit work with a proposed or working title, but rarely is that used by the publisher. This is true also of VTDigger, which has almost never used my proposed titles. (I was told my title “Flatlander locusts devour Vermont’s culture” was “unacceptable”; VTDigger printed it as “Values — not birthplace — define a Vermonter.”)
I must agree that Gov. Scott does believe that Vermonters are, in fact, redeemable — this is why he supported and signed legislation to rewrite our textbooks for K-12 so that “our underlying culture” can be changed for us. This is presumably why he has not opposed a Committee Report from Attorney General T.J. Donovan that declared Vermont a “White Supremacy culture,” or a bill that proposes to apologize to African Americans on behalf of all Vermonters and determine how much money to be paid in reparations to whom, and by what means. Once Vermont pays money out of its infinite coffers to heal the terrible offenses Vermonters committed against black slaves, I suppose Gov. Scott does believe they will be redeemed.
I preferred my own title, “Vermont’s attorney general and governor enable the fentanyl/heroin cartels, declare police and courts racist.” This was more equitable, as T.J. Donovan is more culpable than Phil Scott, given his duty to defend law enforcement and the judicial system from unfair attacks rather than presume fault without even bothering to collect the data which would quickly clarify the truth for all. But this title was also more accurate, because the chief thrust of my commentary is not that Phil Scott assumes Vermonters are racist, but that by doing so he and Donovan may very well be enabling the opioid crisis they say they wish to stop. As someone who knows many people struggling with narcotic addiction, and has attended too many young people’s funerals, I have only one-tenth the patience I might otherwise have for having my family and culture labeled racist when that may undermine illicit drug interdiction efforts.
Am I creating conflict in the GOP by criticizing Phil Scott? Well, I very sincerely hope so. I attended a legislative breakfast in Newport, Vermont, which may have been Phil Scott’s official unveiling of his original run for governor. After he spoke, I was the first to raise my hand, and I stated “I believe we are looking at the next governor of Vermont,” and the crowd stood with me in applause. In November 2016, my wife and I drove two hours each way to vote for Phil Scott.
Then he signed away our Second Amendment rights on an overnight whim, while a supposedly legitimate criminal case of a school shooting hung in the courts. Alas, no crime was ever committed, and the whole thing was a set-up — the kid was busted for “thinking” a crime, and we all lost our freedoms and our children’s freedoms, the ones bestowed by our great-greats. Clearly Phil Scott believes Vermonters are irredeemably untrustworthy with our own weapons.
Still, my wife and I voted for Phil Scott yet again in 2018. (What’s that saying? “Fool me twice, shame on me.”) This time our reward was his signing of H.57. Not only did he sign it, but he declared his personal enlightened opinion that a doctor and patient should decide whether a child in the womb is a human. This was much more than a cop-out.
All legislative session, Vermonters opposed H.57 at the Statehouse by clear margins of 3- or 4-to-1 against, yet VTDigger and the media did not report that. The Legislature gave each side “equal time,” meaning most citizen opponents were disenfranchised. Many of us wrote articles about the issue, especially emphasizing that existing Vermont law did not criminalize the killing of a mother’s baby in the womb, that third-term abortions are in fact performed here, and that these “procedures” take a horrible toll on the health care professionals who perform them even as “pro-choice” activists hide behind the “doctor-patient privilege” to avoid all those issues.
Phil Scott either did not hear all those voices, or he just decided once again to do his own thing. Mothers whose babies are killed by drunk or drug-impaired drivers in Vermont can just take solace that Phil Scott has taken the leadership to address that issue via the doctor-patient privilege. If only he had left the decision to own guns to the doctor-patient privilege, or maybe whether to teach children about the historical contribution of transgenders in Vermont grade schools — perhaps that should have been a parent-child relationship matter. But now it is already law: we cannot be trusted to teach our own children about sexuality, or racism — only the government can “redeem” us.
Have Vermonters read these statutes, and proposed statutes, and remained silent? If so, nothing could more demonstrate their tolerance and forebearance, and I suppose I am being un-Vermontish by stridently protesting. But I can’t imagine that most of my hillside neighbors have read these excerpts from H.478, pending now in our Legislature for consideration next year:
That African Americans have: an unemployment rate more than twice the current white unemployment rate (not true in Vermont); an average of less than 1/16th of the wealth of white families, a disparity that has worsened, not improved, over time (completely false in Vermont); the lingering negative effects of the institution of slavery and the discrimination described in subdivisions (1) and (2) of this subsection (b) on living African Americans and on society in Vermont (where slavery was never legal).
Or have most Vermonters considered H.3, which concluded that racial harassment was pervasive in our schools?
The Attorney General and Human Rights Commission held three stakeholder meetings and found ‘a surprising amount of coalescence around the most important issues’ and ‘the primary over-arching theme was that we will be able to reduce racial disparities by changing the underlying culture of our state with regard to race.’ One of the main suggestions for accomplishing this was to ‘teach children from an integrated curriculum that fairly represents both the contributions of People of Color (as well as indigenous people, women, people with disabilities, etc.), while fairly and accurately representing our history of oppression of these groups.’ The other suggestions were to educate State employees about implicit bias, white privilege, white fragility, and white supremacy and increase the representation of people of color in the State and school labor forces by focusing on recruitment, hiring, and retention, as well as promotion of people of color into positions of authority and responsibility on boards and commissions.
This law states that Vermont’s education system does not “fairly and accurately represent our history of oppression of these groups.” This is insulting to our forebears, and to Vermonters. How about some facts, or are these changes to our school curricula also based on national statistics applied to Vermont? Neither Gov. Scott nor Attorney General Donovan — nor a single legislator — has stood up to defend our teachers, police or citizens. Enough is enough! Government cannot constitutionally implement laws without supporting evidence both that there is a problem and that the proposed legislation will reasonably address that problem. In this case, I vehemently challenge both. A biased committee’s loaded conclusions is notably insufficient, just as a slight rise in incarceration of black inmates is insufficient to rush to conclusions about police and attorneys.
Vermont does not owe a mea culpa to Phil Scott, even if I did. Our state will no longer tolerate this denigration of its good people as a virtue-signaling ploy by those who seek to lord over us with their snobby, “enlightened” self-superiority. This is damaging us culturally on top of the destruction of our economy. Our dairy farms now number below 700, but Phil Scott wants to pay $10,000 bribes to out-of-staters, attract more people of color, support Vermont as an abortion clinic mecca, and unequivocally preserve all state workers’ jobs. I am not the one who requires redemption or reeducation.
Aside from the appropriateness of my article title, Vermont as a state must ask the difficult but logically inescapable question: Are the increases in black arrests and incarceration linked to arrests for drug trafficking? It is easy enough to analyze the data, but neither Gov. Scott nor T.J. Donovan has done so. I hope someone does so.
As I will address in my next commentary, “Mea culpa to Phil Scott II,” the conversation about racism in Vermont might better be had if it were not entirely one-sided — that is, if there were not those who manipulate our media to prohibit this conversation.
John Klar is an attorney and farmer residing in Brookfield, and pastor of the First Congregational Church of Westfield.