Joe Biden’s new ‘disinformation czar’ dismissed concerns about Critical Race Theory in schools as ‘disinformation for profit’, despite parents across the country being worried about the teaching of the philosophy in their children’s classrooms.
Nina Jankowicz, a disinformation expert who has worked throughout Eastern Europe, was hired on April 27 to lead a Homeland Security Department working group designed to help its different agencies in dealing with disinformation, looking at topics ranging from migration to plots from Russia and Iran.
But her appointment has angered Republicans.
The Republican National Committee dubbed the committee she heads ‘Ministry of Truth’ in a nod to George Orwell’s novel ‘1984’ and couched disinformation as ‘any speech we don’t like.’
Other critics have seized upon her past comments – noting that she described Hunter Biden’s laptop as ‘the laptop from hell’, and echoed the opinion of national security experts at the time that the laptop was part of a Russian influence operation. It has since been accepted as authentic.
On Wednesday, a clip from a November 2021 address to The City Club of Cleveland was circulated online, which showed Jankowicz downplaying concerns about CRT.
Nina Jankowicz is pictured in November 2021, giving a lecture and taking questions at The City Club of Cleveland. She was asked about CRT, and said it was a ‘weaponization of emotions’
Opponents of the academic doctrine known as Critical Race Theory protest outside of the Loudoun County School Board headquarters, in Ashburn, Virginia, in June 2021
Protesters and their children are seen outside the Loudoun County government center in Leesburg, Virginia, on June 12, 2021
One man in the audience said that Republicans were using Critical Race Theory to divide people, and asked her: ‘How do you get people to understand and go beyond the headlines?’
The use of critical race theory, or CRT, in education has been criticized for its exploration of whether the U.S. is built on racism, with skin color determining the social, economic and political differences between each.
CRITICAL RACE THEORY: WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
The fight over critical race theory in schools has escalated in the United States over the last year.
The theory has sparked a fierce nationwide debate in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests around the country since the murder of George Floyd in May 2020, and the introduction of The 1619 Project.
The 1619 Project, which was published by the New York Times in 2019 to mark 400 years since the first enslaved Africans arrived on American shores, reframes American history by ‘placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the center of the US narrative’.
The debate surrounding critical race theory regards concerns that some children are being indoctrinated into thinking that white people are inherently racist or sexist.
Those against critical race theory have argued it reduces people to the categories of ‘privileged’ or ‘oppressed’ based on their skin color.
Supporters, however, say the theory is vital to eliminating racism because it examines the ways in which race influence American politics, culture and the law.
Advocates say its’ teaching is necessary to underline how deeply racism pervades society, while critics say it is divisive and paints everyone as a victim or oppressor.
Loudoun Superintendent Scott Ziegler says that CRT is not being taught to students, and that parents and other activists are seizing upon the district’s equity training for staff and claiming it is being taught in classrooms.
She replied: ‘You’re absolutely right that Critical Race Theory has become one of those hot-button issues that the Republicans and other disinformers, who are engaged in disinformation for profit, frankly – there are plenty of media outlets that are making money off this too – have seized on.
‘And I live in Virginia, and in Loudoun County that’s one of the areas where people have really honed in on this topic.
‘But it’s no different than any of the other hot-button issues that have allowed disinformation to flourish.
‘It’s weaponizing people’s emotion.’
She recommended that the audience be aware of reading articles that made you feel emotional and passionate, and said she supported public media, because they are able to give time and space for debate.
Yet now members of the Loudoun County School Board are facing the prospect of being forced from office in November – a year early – after Virginia’s new GOP governor, Glenn Youngkin, ordered them to seek re-election.
‘Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, elections for all nine districts of the Loudoun County School Board shall be held on November 5, 2022,’ the amendment to HB 1138 reads.
The board is made up of nine members, including Jeff Morse, chair of the Dulles District; Ian Serotkin, Vice-Chair of Blue Ridge District; at-large member Denise Corbo; Atoosa Reaser of the Algonkian District; Harris Mahedavi, of the Ashburn District; Andrew Hoyler of the Broad Run District; John Beatty of the Catoctin District; and Tom Marshall of the Leesburg District.
The Loudoun School Board has been mired in controversy – not just with CRT.
Last year they were in the headlines for covering up a sexual assault on school grounds, which led to an additional assault of a young girl – whose father infamously attended a school board meeting and had to be forcibly removed.
They have continued to court controversy, with the board’s approval of a $6 million ‘equity-training’ program last April, as well as the September approval of a study into whether it would be appropriate to give reparations to black people.
Loudoun County School Board members (pictured) will be up for election this coming November instead of 2023 following an amendment by Governor Younkin
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (pictured) made an amendment to a bill that moved up the elections of the Loudoun County School Board to November 2022
Shelley Slebrch and other angry parents and community members protest after a Loudoun County School Board meeting was halted by the school board because the crowd refused to quiet down last June
Younkin said the amendment was a chance to ‘reflect the will of parents’ sooner.
‘The last few years just absolutely signified some real challenges with the Loudoun County School Board,’ Younkin told 7NewsDC.
‘And so in the spirit of transparency and accountability, my amendment gives parents the ability to elect their school board.’
But the move came as a surprise to school board members, including Andrew Hoyler who said he does not support it.
‘I was extremely surprised with the news this morning regarding forced elections for all school board seats this November, as opposed to just my seat and Mr. Marshall’s seat. Despite my differences with my each of my colleagues, I do NOT support Governor Youngkin’s amendment,’ he tweeted.
Delegate David Reid slammed the amendment, saying it was an attempt by the Republican governor to ‘undermine local elections.’
‘This is another attempt by some Republicans to subvert our democracy and hold it hostage to a right-wing minority,’ Reid said in a statement.
‘The members of the Loudoun County School Board were elected to serve 4-year terms and they should be allowed to serve the full duration of their terms – that’s why we have scheduled elections.
‘This bill had overwhelming bipartisan support in both the House (100-0) and the Senate (39-0-1),’ he added.
‘By adding this unnecessary amendment to a simple administrative bill, which was requested by the Loudoun Board of Elections, Governor Youngkin is opening the door for any future majority and Governor to undermine local elections and local control.’
Loudoun School Board member Andrew Hoyler said he does not support the amendment
On the day Youngkin took office, he signed an executive order banning CRT from schools and said he would open an investigation into the Loudoun County School Board’s actions
The Loudoun County School District – which has been plagued by scandal after scandal. Pictured, a man is detained after a fight broke out during a Loudoun County School Board meeting which included a discussion of Critical Race Theory and transgender students
The district also made the news over the matter of Critical Race Theory.
Governor Youngkin pledged to ban CRT, seizing on the discontent of parents who had grown agitated after the Loudon County school board last April announced a $6million ‘equity-training’ program that parents associated with CRT.
The ‘equity training’ which was met with strong opposition by some residents.
Parents claimed that training was part of a pro-CRT push which would lead to students seeing themselves as victims or oppressors, depending on their race.
Protests then reignited in September, when the school board voted 6-3 in favor of beginning a study into whether it would be appropriate to give reparations to black people after it previously ignored a landmark desegregation ruling.
On the day Youngkin took office, he signed an executive order banning CRT from schools and said he would open an investigation into the Loudoun County School Board’s actions.