Republicans are stupid.Northern VirginiaPoliticsVirginia

At least, according to Kristin Martin, a math teacher at Powell Elementary School in Fairfax – a school that happens to be within my district, and where I spent plenty of time campaigning last fall.

The Daily Caller reported yesterday that Martin told a class full of sixth graders that “Republicans are stupid,” “they don’t care about anyone but wealthy people and businesses,” and “Democrats do more for the community and schools.”

What prompted this outburst? Super Tuesday. Voters were visiting the polls at her elementary school, named for Republican General Colin Powell, in Centreville. When one of her students came in and started naming all the Republican candidates for President, she decided it was a good idea to get political with a class of sixth graders.

Shocking? Not really. This comes on the heels of a story where another Fairfax teacher had his class do opposition research for the Obama campaign. But the fact that teachers tend to vote Democratic isn’t a shock to anyone.

Nor is it shocking that the best arguments she can come up with are that we’re stupid and only care about the wealthy and businesses. This is a common theme amongst Democrats, and one I met with often on the campaign trail. And as President Obama stumps around the country, claiming all we want are more tax cuts for the rich – ignoring that he himself signed an extension of the Bush “tax cuts for the rich” that he now attacks as reckless – it’s understandable that the talking points have trickled down to the ground troops. As for the stupid comment, that’s almost an axiom among the left. The right would agree with them on every issue, if only we weren’t so damn ignorant.

I would have loved to point out the areas where Ms. Martin is wrong – all she would have had to do is come outside and talk to me on August 23 or November 8, when I was outside Powell Elementary greeting voters, or on one of the back-to-school nights where both I and my opponent were out greeting parents as they came in to visit their kids’ schools. We could have talked about Tim Kaine’s record as Governor, where he cut higher education funding while tuition at Virginia’s four year universities rose by 30%. Or we could have talked about George Bush’s spending on education, where he increased federal spending on education 58% faster than the inflation rate. And we could point out all the various ways Republicans serve the community in Fairfax. But that would have been trying to argue logic with emotion.

What will happen to Ms. Martin? Nothing. FCPS will give her a stern talking to, reminding her of the policies about political discussions in the school system. That’s wrong, but it’s reality. But my biggest concern is that nobody will address the more troubling point with Ms. Martin: that she would actually say something like “Republicans are stupid” to a group of twelve year olds.

This is the kind of socially acceptable prejudice that has infested our political discussion. It has to stop. We all know that if she’d said “Blacks are stupid” or “Asians are stupid” there would have been major consequences for her. We would have been in an uproar if she’d said “Christians are stupid” and we know there would be national press coverage if she’d said “Muslims are stupid.” But calling Republicans stupid is just written off as political, not what it really is, which is the kind of soft bigotry that has made politics so bitterly divisive. To me, saying Republicans (or Democrats for that matter) are stupid and meaning it is no better than saying the same thing about somebody’s race, religion, sexual orientation or disability. But it’s not treated that way, because calling the other side names has become a time honored tradition in our political life. That doesn’t make it right, and it’s high time that we stop tolerating it, especially from people in positions of authority.

At the end of the day, both sides have their fair share of folks who can’t articulate themselves well. But when we’re talking about someone who is teaching our kids, who is supposed to be preparing them for life outside the classroom, giving them the tools to become good citizens, we should expect more. Fairfax Schools are notorious for their zero tolerance policies when it comes to kids breaking the rules – how about a little less tolerance for teachers doing the same thing?

  • Brian Kirwin

    She chose to be a teacher.

    I’m not sure she should be bringing up stupidity.

  • Mike Barrett

    Brian K, please, for your own sake, get someone to check your work before you hit submit.

  • Mormor

    Agree with Mike B.

  • Mick

    While I agree that calling the other political party stupid gets us no where and has no place in a government-funded school, I disagree with the assertion that “saying Republicans (or Democrats for that matter) are stupid and meaning it is no better than saying the same thing about somebody’s race, religion, sexual orientation or disability.” If by stupid one means lacking a coherent and logical grasp of reality by which one makes adopts certain principles as true and makes rational choices thereby, attaching that description to someone for their particular political views may be accurate, if unhelpful on its own. However, in many cases I think the speaker intend to be heard as saying that that person simply lacks the mental capacity to appreciate the superiority of the speaker’s position. Where that’s the case, it is almost always unfair (and impolite if true).

  • Brian Kirwin

    Sorry, Mike. I didn’t mean to leave you out.

  • Not Larry Sabato

    I think you mean “General Colin Powell, a Republican”.

  • MD Russ

    Either form is correct, Mister Grammar Person. You could also refer to him as “General Colin Powell, an African-American” or as “African-American General Colin Powell.” The descriptors are independent modifiers.

  • http://www.bearingdrift.com Brian Schoeneman

    Mick, I think that’s a distinction without a difference. Saying all Republicans are stupid is no more intellectually valid than saying all gays are stupid, all Glee fans are stupid, etc. You’re making a blanket statement that demonstrates your intolerance for another group – that’s your textbook definition of bigotry right there.

  • MD Russ

    Brian,

    You are correct. What is appalling here is not so much the slanted political bias of Ms. Martin but her egregious use of stereotyping and bigotry toward an entire class of people with whom she disagrees or dislikes. Impressionable elementary students are incapable of making the distinction on which Mick is depending. If they hear their teacher negatively characterize a rather loosely affiliated class of people, why would they not logically assume that it is permissible to do the same thing with a class of people who are more closely connected, such as blacks, Jews, or Math teachers? This case is much more concerning than the civic class opposition research one. At least that teacher was on topic and attempting to conduct a practical exercise in politics. What the Hell does an anti-Republican rant have to do with Math? It was a gratuitous use of adult influence that directly conflicts with the goals of primary education.

    Ms. Martin is unqualified to be a teacher, IMHO. However, your citation of FCPS’ zero tolerance policy is appropriate. What would the school do with a student who committed a similar offense? Perhaps five days in-school suspension and a letter of apology to his teacher and fellow students? Maybe Ms. Martin would be a better teacher in the future if she spent a week working in the principal’s office or the library while composing a letter of apology to her students and their parents.

  • James “turbo” Cohen

    maybe discipline the wench and demand she take a leave of absence..

  • John

    I get so annoyed at these teachers who demonize and belittle the very source of their livelyhood. If she is such a mthematical phenom, then why did she not get into a profession that doesn’t require regular union strikes to increase the salary you were aware of before you graduated college. Besides, does she tell her students of those “stupid” Republicans such as Lincoln, Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglas, and of course Dr. Martin Luther king Jr. What party was Jim Crowe ? Stupis is as stupid does.

  • Let’s Be Free

    Now if she had said Republicans who think Mitt Romney would be a good President are stupid, she would have had a point.

  • MD Russ

    LBF,

    That is a troll comment that adds absolutely nothing to the discussion except to demonstrate that you are as much of an ignoramous as Ms. Martin.

    Now bugger off and leave this thread to adults.

  • http://Bushdoesnotexistbecause------------- louexis

    Brian,
    Isn’t this a rather small subject to write about? Why did you write it? Was it just to denigrate teachers “again” or was it to play games with General Powell’s name and ethnicity.

  • Brian Kirwin

    Lou, Brian S. doesn’t often denigrate teachers even when they deserve it.

    I do it all the time. I’m a sucker for a target-rich environment.

  • Let’s Be Free

    OK Russ, you win. Republicans aren’t stupid — they are just lacking in the sense of humor department.

    I admit, that seriously discussing, at length, sophmoric stereoptypic statements, is the sin qua non of an informed and intellectual discourse. Good enough?

  • http://bearingdrift.com/author/andrew Andrew Schwartz

    LBF, did you mean “sine qua non?” ‘Cause as it stands, you are stating that resorting to bigotry is not a sin in intellectual discourse.

    But even if you meant “sine qua non,” do you realize you are saying that resorting to “sophomoric stereotypic statements” is absolutely essential to intellectual discourse?

    Either way, I’m not sure whether your comment is scary, perfectly demonstrative of ignorance, or maybe — just maybe — an attempt at using a Latin phrase without knowing what it means….

  • http://Www.bearingdrift.com Brian W. Schoeneman

    I wrote it because 1) it was in my district when I ran, 2) it let me point out Tim Kaine’s bad record on higher education, 3) I get annoyed when people treat the other side like they’re idiots rather than simply folks who disagree and 4) it gave me a chance to point out the hypocrisy of the Fairfax zero tolerance policy.

  • http://TidewaterLiberty.com Britt Howard

    Brian S., you should have written it for another reason. One that I really wish you would have included, because I need to know that Republicans realize ALSO that it is wrong.

    This alleged teacher was in effect attempting to indoctrinate her students. Not just name call a whole group of people. In the past, I have posted about the irony that as a Libertarian, I am fighting along side many social conservatives despite the fact that I was on the opposite side during the time when the “moral majority” and “religious right” were in their prime of power doing their best to try to indoctrinate other children in our schools. It was wrong for the Right to do it and it is wrong for the Left, now.
    Some people think that it is ok to do wrong by someone else’s child as long as THEY are the ones doing it. They are after all, wise enough to brain wash your children, right? Republicans are stupid after all, and should not be allowed to force ideas like wise Democrats.

    For all of you that have questioned that our children are being indoctrinated with Democratic “talking points for children”, Brian’s article points to just yet another piece of evidence. Indoctrination is JUST AS WRONG as it is to lable an entire group of people as being stupid.

    Both are wrong. It doesn’t matter WHO does it. It is wrong and counter to freedom. So, if you’re still confused why some libertarians are so chummy with social conservatives, it is bacause like you, they are human beings entitled to individual rights just like you. The fact is, their children are being indoctrinated. The fact is that it has become fashionable to mock them publicly as a whole in the media, in public institutions, and yes, even by “moderates” in the Republican Party.

    Either you are for freedom, or you are not. If you allow exemptions for non-stupid people, the wise, the “correct”, you only open the door to the loss of your own freedom when the pendulum swings back or the tide of popular opinion shifts. Many still are caught up thinking we are a true Democracy or “mob rule”. America was founded as being a Constitutional Republic where representation is elected Democratically. It is that Constitution that so many want to ignore or paint as dead ideas written by dead men. That Cosntitution/Bill of Rights is what in our form of government helps to secure your individual rights that you were born with.

    The Constitution and Bill of Rights are your friend. The politically correct, morally correct, patriotically correct etc, that seek to undermine your individual rights are your true enemy.

    Although I would add the crime of indoctrination, I for one, am glad to see this article put out there. It is no small matter.

  • Let’s Be Free

    I see you are quite fearful of speech Mr. Schwarz.

    This entire discourse is absurd. My middle daughter, for example, has a public school teacher, who is a proud and avowed Socialist, who makes plenty of statements in the classroom I would disagree with politically. That teacher is also, by far, the most insightful, thoughtful, creative and dedicated teacher my daughter has had. Your willingness to judge public servants and punish them based on snippets of political speech rather than merit of performance is despicable.

    You are a retributive lot. That is actually scary.

  • http://TidewaterLiberty.com Britt Howard

    LBF, I can’t comment on your daughter’s teacher. Why? It is quite possible that particular teacher has open discussions and let’s the children think for themselves. Perhaps the teacher you appreciate is intellectually mature enough to put forth personal views without pushing them on children coming from families other than her own. That would be a good thing. You didn’t say here that your daughter’s teacher goes to the extent of name calling that children could see as attacks on their parents or beliefs.

    LBF, you have a right to raise your daughter as you see fit. It is not the business of a teacher or school system to push their ideas on her. What if you were a Republican and your daughter came home upset, because her teacher called all Republicans stupid?

    Further, just think about it before you get so protective of of these social engineer wannabes.

    “Republicans are stupid”, is NOT an intellectually open discussion. You children are bullied by statements like that. All they learn is the language of intimidation and ad hominem. Is that what you really want? You approve of this?

    Lastly, when does your opinion change? When the religious right is in power and trying to push their particular religious view in a public school?

    I can’t be sure just yet with you, but often when I hear defenses like yours for Left Wing indoctrinators, their views shift when power is held by a political rival. It is selective ad hominem. Selectively encroaching on parental rights.

    For me this has nothing to do with retribution. For empty headed partisans, maybe. They selectively engage in attacking. Freedom or what is best for the child isn’t really the main concern for those people. Their concern is scoring points or inflicting damage on the “enemy”. I would rather see children of any political or religious upbringing be protected from indoctrination or political bullying from any side. I would rather ALL not SELECTIVE homes be treated with respect and allowed to raise their children without indoctrination attempts from a place where they are supposed to be learning.

    Now, when you’re an adult or near adult, you are more able form your own informed beliefs. You have to deal with belligerent assholes spewing hate in every day life.
    However, don’t you think it a little young that an elementary school student would hear their parents or people as a group being called “stupid”? I think we can expect more from highly educated professionals entrusted with the care and education of our children. Don’t you?

    It isn’t a matter of retribution as it is for job performance, parental rights, and dealing with children in ways that won’t harm them. Hearing the teacher call you parents stupid is harm. Somehow, I don’t think that socialist teacher goes around calling you stupid. I bet you’d be upset if she/he did.

    You have to be honest with yourself and ask to whom freedom applies to. Just you? Just people like you? Is it ok to persecute others as long as they’re “stupid” or in a group you don’t tolerate?

    Sometimes, I think the opposite sides get so focused on the past foul deeds of their rivals that they don’t see themselves becoming exactly what they despised in the opposition.

    ” Those that go to battle monsters should take care lest they become monsters in the process” and ” As you gaze into the abyss, the abyss also gazes into you” – Friedrich Nietzche

  • Seriously People

    Of course, nobody points out that these comments being attributed to a professional teacher are being reported by a 12 year old student/witness…Likely out of context. I think this is passing judgment on a teacher without proper evidence or ability to defend herself. Good job posting her name and place of employment. I can’t imagine the hate mail she is getting at work. Let’s hope there is no such thing as karma for evil people like you.

  • http://www.bearingdrift.com Brian Schoeneman

    If the 12 year old had said the teacher had touched him inappropriately, would we be questioning whether he was reporting what he said accurately?

    I post my name and place of employment all over the place. Hate mail is just hate mail.

  • http://TidewaterLiberty.com Seriously A. Pseudonym

    Where are the contradictory testimonies of the other children? The teacher?

    Answer that, “Seriously People”.

    I suppose 6th graders can’t testify when they have been molested by “Professional Teachers” or any other person with an admirable choice of work? Because SOME people never do wrong or committ crimes, right? Funny how both the priesthood and female teachers are having sex with boys under their care.

    Let me give you a hint, Seriously People. Teachers are human beings too and just as flawed as the rest of the world.

    Sounds to me that the results were fitting. A reminder of policy and a warning of sorts. That and public admission that this is not professional behavior or accepted behavior.

  • http://TidewaterLiberty.com Britt Howard

    I am “Seriously A. Pseudonym”. Just making a point about silly and dramatic fake names.

    I guess if your point is empty, you wouldn’t want to use your real name.

  • Hassan Ben Sober

    comparing classroom discussion of politics as reported by a pre-teen to a blogger to something as intense as the testimony of a molested child stepping forward to report the unspeakable abuse to authorities is…oh, so Republican!

  • http://bearingdrift.com/author/andrew Andrew Schwartz

    LBF, I am the furthest thing from being fearful of speech. I just want to be sure that you believe resorting to bigoted remarks is an integral part of debate. If you do, then I know to exercise my right to free silence toward you.

  • http://www.bearingdrift.com Brian Schoeneman

    No, it’s not Hassan. It’s pointing out hypocrisy. Democrats always decry blaming the victim, but when the person reporting the problem is a kid and it makes a Democrat look bad, all of the sudden nothing they say could possibly be accurate.

    But if it’s something more serious, their word is enough to destroy lives, as we had happen here in Fairfax two years ago.

    I’m just pointing out the hypocrisy of trying to claim the kid didn’t report what his teacher said accurately.

  • http://TidewaterLiberty.com Britt Howard

    I agree with Brian S., on the hypocrisey point.

    Additionally:

    Hassan, I believe that you know full well that the argument was taken to the extreme (abuse testimony) in order to make a point. The point being, that legitimate tesimony can be made by a child of 12.

    When you add that to the complete lack of statements to the contrary from other students, it pretty much defeats the attacking and belittling of the accuser on the grounds of age.

    Yes, children do bad things and lie. Just like teachers and every other adult professional. Human beings are inherently flawed and that is why we use evidence. Being a teacher in and of itself does not make you “holier than thou”. Well, unless you’re a teacher’s union official. I’m not bad mouthing unions by saying that. I’m just saying that some people have blinded agendas that ignore the obvious.

    If you have real evidence or links post them. It looks like this is a real case with a real grievance, but I’m open to being shown evidence to the contrary. It would be preferable to hear that the child was making it up and allegations of name calling and indoctrination in this case were false. This goes even further than the global warming and politically correct crap we parents have to counter. It won’t hurt my feeling to have to later learn my initial assessment was off the mark. That will take some evidence, though. Talking points won’t cut it.

  • Hassan Ben Sober

    It is wrong for you people to have posted the name of the teacher in this story and her e-mail so she can be threatened and harrassed on the word of one student who didn’t get the story straight. You claim that the facts are clear, but this is from the original article that started this whole thing in the Daily Caller blog:

    John Torre, a spokesman for the Fairfax County School System, said that the school board did look into the matter but was unable to reach a conclusion.

    “The district has looked into the alleged statements and could not reach any conclusive findings,” Torre told TheDC in an email. “There was an informal discussion about politics between the teacher and students that was not a part of any classroom lesson. There are differing accounts of what may or may not have been said by the participants.”

    DO THE RIGHT THING and DELETE THIS POSTING!

    Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2012/04/05/va-school-teacher-thinks-republicans-are-stupid/#ixzz1rxGUz49T

  • http://TidewaterLiberty.com Britt Howard

    Hassan you act like we didn’t read the article. So you’re going to cherry pick quotes? Guess What? ANYBODY can do that!
    How about these quotes from that same article:

    “The county school superintendent’s office later sent all principals a reminder about policies “that regulate employee political activities and the presentation of controversial issues in the classroom.” The principals distributed that information to their teachers.”

    or “Martin did not respond to TheDC’s request for comment.”

    “No conclusion” and “inconclusive” are words for, we’re sorry for what happend, but we’re circling the legal wagons. Different acounts, Hassan, does not mean contradictory testimony. And just why is it so much harder to find those contrary statements? Hmmm?

    And yet…. they found the need to send out the message that statements like those alleged to have come from Martin were not acceptable. Why is that Hassan? Why, if they thought Martin was innocent?

    Giving out the email was wrong, but I can’t seem to find that. Maybe I missed it in skimming Bearing Drift’s article and the Daily Caller’s. Could you quote that? Was it in a reply posting?

    The best thing is to let the article stand to let others know they don’t have free reign on indoctrinating our children. Not that there was a shred of a chance BD would drop it, but still.