The news was heartening this week of the deserved dismissal with prejudice of a recall petition brought against yet another Fairfax County School Board member, Laura Jane Cohen, reported elsewhere in this edition. An elected Republican official assigned as a special prosecutor for the case found there was no merit to the allegations as presented and sought the dismissal. Dismissed “with prejudice” means it cannot be refiled.
But we cannot expect that this will be the end of the growing movement led by pro-Trump Republicans to attack public education and its seminal role in our democracy. The outrageous disruptions of School Board meetings across the U.S. in the past year, using the difficulties associated with the Covid-19 pandemic as pretexts, have fueled the latest iteration of the nationwide and international grassroots campaigns against the core values of the American way of life.
It is clear to us that when you look at the behavior of key figures of the Fox News debacle, people like Tucker Carlson, taking together their relentless opposition to public health measures aimed at stemming the Covid-19 scourge and now outspoken support for Putin’s invasion of Ukraine that the work of a hostile foreign power is involved.
The two elements were cornerstones of the foul-wind Trump presidency that would be laying the nation prostrate had it achieved a second four years. It is all about “helter skelter,” anything and everything that can be brought to bear against the rational sensibilities of the U.S. population. Not the least of these, of course, is the value of public education. Sadly, just as there are millions of misguided Americans who are willing to stand on the wrong side of these issues, so it is true when the fabric of public education is at stake.
Americans, those of us who value the lives and potentials of our population, at least, need to stand up and take note. Yes, an enormous amount was done to unseat Trump but none of this is over in the least. We as a free people need to rise up and start paying serious attention to what these evil forces are trying to do to us. Sadly, this anti-democracy current is running deeper than ever in the so-called Republican Party now, and elements are trying to push the envelope to ban books, for example, and to reintroduce an unnatural prejudice in the public.
So far, their book burning fixation is beyond the pale for most Americans, but so it was for other things that gain traction over time if not stomped out decisively. Nowhere better than in Northern Virginia, where the values of human dignity and universal public education are cherished as much as anywhere else in the world, should campaigns to protect such basics be advanced the most aggressively. The Falls Church School Board’s well-articulated commitment to such core principles needs to be touted as an oft-repeated mantra to the wider world.