This is the latest in a series on the use of the race card for political gain:
This also is the latest in the “these people are nuts in the head” series.
Via Volokh Conspiracy, comes the controversy in Vermont over the slogan “Pure Vermont.”
First some background. Using the word “Vermont” in connection with a product actually increases the product’s worth in the eyes of consumers, so much so that the Vermont legislature has looked into various ways to market and certify the Vermont brand. Think Vermont, and think of Ben & Jerry’s, Cabot Cheese, Vermont Teddy Bears, the Green Mountains, maple syrup, cows grazing on hillsides, etc.
Vermont = Good.
It is not surprising that many Vermont businesses use the marketing term “Pure Vermont” (or sometimes “Vermont Pure“) to emphasize that the product actually was made in Vermont. There is a Pure Vermont Building Company, and plenty of maple syrup producers touting their “Pure Vermont” product.
The reaction from political opponents was … wait for it … Racist!
When I first saw that a “Pure Vermont” tour was coming to St. Albans as part of Brian Dubie’s campaign I thought of white supremacists, the Spanish Inquisition and a host of other unsavory associations. Then I started to think about it some more and things really got scary.
But the theme really was elevated two days ago through a column in the Brattleboro Reformer (emphasis mine):
Brian Dubie’s “Pure Vermont” brand is another example of cross-cultural blundering. Presumably, the slogan refers to Vermont’s agricultural products and environmental legacy. But for many Vermonters, these words denote racial, religious and cultural oppression. They imply that Vermont is a place reserved for white Christians.
By using the “Vermont Pure” slogan, according to the columnist, Dubie was honoring Nazi eugenics theory, racial segregation, and contributing to LGBT suicides (emphasis mine):
Dubie’s brand resurrects the horror of the Eugenics Survey and the 1931 passage of An Act for Human Betterment by Voluntary Sterilization. This measure codified the practice of racism, harassment, and the sterilization of the Abenaki people. “Pure Vermont” raises the specter of Hilter’s Aryan Nation and the Khmer Rouge where the purifying agent was genocide.
And the slogan is a bitter reminder of the bigotry and racial segregation experienced by blacks under slavery and Jim Crow. The precipitous drop of Vermont’s black population in the early 20th century was no doubt partially due to the Klan’s efforts to keep Vermont pure.
More than a remnant of our recent past, racism and bias are stubborn problems in our schools. The brand turns a deaf ear to the sensitivities of students of color and LGBT students. Too often the target of brutal bullying, suicide attempts among these student populations are three to eight times higher than those of white or heterosexual students.
Now it would be easy to laugh this off.
But the author of the column quoted above was Curtiss Reed Jr., who from 2004-2010 served on the 17 member Vermont Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (from 2008-2010, Reed was Chair). In that capacity, Reed was responsible, among other things, for submitting a 2008 report on Racial Profiling in Vermont.
Reed also is Executive Director of The Vermont Partnership for Fairness and Diversity (formerly called ALANA Community Organization) which strives to be ” the most respected and successful guardian of social justice in the state of Vermont.”
The Vermont Partnership received a $75,000 grant from Ben & Jerry’s which it used to facilitate presentations to Vermont school children “to help all students rethink their attitudes about the significant roles that ethnic and racial minorities play in Vermont today.”
The Vermont Department of Education also authorizes The Vermont Partnership to provide programming in schools on work related issues, including “how to recruit, hire and retain a diverse workforce and how to create and sustain an inclusive and equitable workplace.”
In case you think Reed has gone rogue, The Vermont Partnership features the column quoted above on its Facebook page.
This is no rogue author. This is mainstream racial demagoguery masquerading as social justice activism used against a Republican to implicitly make a charge of racism on the eve of an election.
As for Reed’s assertion that “Pure Vermont” invokes images of Klansmen, ethnic cleansing, eugenics, and persecution of “people of color” and gays … I say, that’s …