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Mea Culpa III

In confronting directly the question of whether Vermont has higher arrest and incarceration rates for blacks because of fentanyl/heroin trafficking rather than innate racial bias in Vermont’s police and judiciary, I sought to challenge Attorney General TJ Donovan’s campaign rhetoric. I submitted an article (“Collective Guilt in Vermont”) to vtdigger on November 26, 2018. Six weeks later, I inquired whether it had been run, and was told:

“We decided against publishing your commentary. By the time you sent it to us, the VPR piece was three and a half weeks old. Also, I’d never say never, but we generally don’t publish commentary about items on other news outlets.”

I protested:

“I submit that our attorney general has labeled Vermont’s entire judicial system as racist, without knowledge of whether the statistical deviation in our incarceration ratios were caused by trafficking demographics. If our judicial system is racist, he is a hero; if the explanation is drug related patterns, he has maligned the credibility of whole ranks of public servants. My piece largely relies on other media for quotes –the attorney general and others.

But don’t you folks think this is an important issue? If I re-wrote it would you approve? I don’t have an axe to grind; I just think it requires more critical assessment before Vermont is labeled racist; especially our judiciary.”

Cate Chant:

“I’d be happy to look at a revision if you can decouple it from the VPR report and avoid any accusations of racism.”

Me: “Thanks. I didn’t think I called anyone a racist…”

Of course, “decoupled from the VPR report” meant no quotes, which is like a lawyer going to trial without evidence. I assumed “accusations of racism” meant when I said it was racist to call all white Vermonters innately racist. Apparently The Newport Daily Express did not find my piece to be racist, as they had kindly printed it on November 23, 2018. I heard not one word of complaint.

It is now nearly eight months since TJ Donovan denounced our state as systemically racist, without investigating even the possibility that higher black incarceration rates are related to the drug trade. (I submitted my recent American Thinker piece to vtdigger on July 10. It appeared on True North Reports on July 11th. To date, vtdigger has not responded: it has been more than three and a half weeks since Governor Scott announced the appointment of Xusana Davis….)

The opioid crisis has unfolded in three waves — the first being from doctors’ prescriptions. The second two waves involved flows of heroin, and then fentanyl, to replace the prescription opioids. Is it possible that the increase in incarceration rates of African Americans in Vermont correlates to the cartel-led, inner-city-trafficked drug explosion that is sweeping our economically and culturally vulnerable Green Mountain State? Here is a graph:

The article cited observes that “Few criminal justice scholars or workers in Vermont seem able to explain how this happened,” and reports that Vermont’s defender general Matthew Valerio could not “…point to specific policies that might have led to such rapid growth.” “I have no information as to why,” Valerio said. “The simple answer is that there’s bias in the system. But it could also be coincidental.” ”

Without addressing the possibility of a drug trade link, the article concludes: “This does not mean that Vermont is uniquely horrible for black people. It simply means that Vermont is not exempt from the same manifestations of racial inequality that define the rest of the country, even if many Vermonters have trouble agreeing how it came about.”

Now read about the ethnic Bill Governor Scott signed for this new world: “We are creating a world where people don’t say ‘I don’t see color,’ but rather say ‘I embrace all of who you are,’….” (Though, “…during the bill’s drafting, the Agency of Education repeatedly raised concerns that the data collection the legislation envisioned would be administratively difficult – and would deliver an essentially useless product.”).

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 ambitiously sought to federally regulate racism through the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution — if people were denied service or mistreated, and that treatment impacted interstate commerce, then the federal government had jurisdiction. But Vermont’s Attorney General, Governor, and Legislature are legislating school textbooks based on children being bullied — is the argument that the textbooks are flawed or at fault? That the teachers must be reprogrammed and are at fault? That new textbooks will prevent bullying? (It sounds much more like institutionally inculcating a generation to feel guilty and blame themselves for past crimes. If they didn’t have white guilt, they sure will now.)

What I am saying here is that this new law is glaringly unconstitutional, on numerous levels. Has a single voice of protest been raised under our Golden Dome? 

I pray that Vermont will have the discussion of race we have not had — as in, when it is wrong to call people or cultures racist without evidence; whether it is ever right (or workable) to use government to change or regulate what people think; whether the higher incarceration rates of blacks are due to out-of-state origin or systemic racism by Vermont’s professionals. And how about this: why are we the only state with Black Lives Matter flags at our schools? That organization is highly partisan and has ties to leftist anarchist groups (if it isn’t one itself). I am a student of Martin Luther King, not Malcolm X — what are Vermont’s students being taught to be?

I hope we also have the discussion of why vtdigger would not print my commentary, or investigate such a controversial and important public policy issue. Clearly we must find not just government officials, but journalists, that we Vermonters can trust to analyze both sides of important issues.

So in this Part III of my mea culpa to Governor Scott, for an article which said he labeled Vermonters irredeemably racist, I submit that he has been complicit in that process, including signing the Bill that claims that our culture needs to be legislatively altered through indoctrination of schoolchildren. I agree with American Thinker’s title-writers that Phil Scott has claimed our Vermont culture is irredeemably racist. Or perhaps I would simply employ Phil Scott’s explanation as to why he recently called President Trump’s tweets “racist”: “I don’t know him well enough to know whether they were racist and that’s the way he feels…. But again, does it really matter? The words are there, so whether it’s something he believes or something that he’s using for a politically strategy, both are equally bad from my standpoint.”

It is we Vermonters who are owed a mea culpa from our Governor. Though I twice voted for him, Phil Scott has not represented me and my family: we have been betrayed on guns, race, immigration, free speech, abortion, and drug interdiction. Phil Scott has abandoned all fealty to conservatism, to his own political party, to his loyal constituents, and to his own culture.

He is not my Governor.

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