Pure Foolishness

Eight years ago, the Volokh Conspiracy pointed out that the Chair of the Vermont State Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights had made ridiculous, racially inflammatory statements. Today the Commission evidently decided that's just what Vermont needs and brought him back for a second stint as Chair.

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

On October 19, 2010, our fearless leader Eugene Volokh posted a piece entitled "When I Hear 'Pure Vermont,' Racial Purity Is the First Thing that Comes to Mind."

In it, he brought attention to an utterly silly statement made by Curtis Reed Jr., the Chair of the Vermont State Advisory Committee On Civil Rights. Reed was upset with the Brian Dubie for Governor "Pure Vermont" advertising campaign and argued the slogan would have sinister connotations to many voters:

[F]or many Vermonters, these words denote racial, religious and cultural oppression. They imply that Vermont is a place reserved for white Christians….

Vermont's population is becoming increasingly diverse. Over the past decade, nearly 95 percent of the state's new residents were racial and ethnic minorities. The "pure" brand perpetuates the "native" verses "flatlander" divisive wedge for the 60 percent of us who were born someplace other than this great state. Tens of thousands of Vermonters today come from non-Christian religious traditions whose recent histories recount public humiliation, persecution and genocide under the rule of oppressive regimes.

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….

The brand [also] turns a deaf ear to the sensitivities of students of color and LGBT students….

The "Pure Vermont" brand is pure invalidation of the fastest growing segment of our population. And the brand's handlers have been dishing out a healthy dose of avoidant behavior or, optimistically, benign neglect. The inherent challenges and opportunities of a more multicultural Vermont should not be ignored or buried in the polite discourse of denial. Failure to authentically affirm our presence today will prove, in years to come, to be the Achilles heel of Vermont's economic recovery, prosperity, and a sense of community free of prejudice and discrimination of all kinds.

"Pure Vermont" does nothing to bring Vermonters together. Vermont deserves inclusive, decisive, self-aware leadership with the 21st century skills to negotiate the oncoming changes within and beyond our borders.

Eugene wrote at the time:

"That's right — "'Pure Vermont' raises the specter of Hitler's Aryan Nation and the Khmer Rouge where the purifying agent was genocide." Unintentional self-parody at its finest.

Here's the rest of the story: At its monthly meeting held this morning (by telephone), the Commission voted to bring back Curtis Reed as Chair of the Vermont State Advisory Committee for an additional term. The vote was 6-2 with Peter Kirsanow and me in dissent. Everyone on the Commission knew about Reed's statement. Indeed, I read large portions of it into the record. They wanted him anyway. They apparently want State Advisory Committee members who are prone to make over-the-top statements of this kind.


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  1. Pure nonsense. The sad reality is that Vermont, for all its pretensions to the good life, is sorely afflicted by heroin and other social and medical toxicity. It would be a ray of hope if even the Maple syrup were pure. Or maybe even Ben and Jerry’s, home of hippie capitalism.

    What the writer fails to perceive is that the sort of comment that was made no longer qualifies as “over the top” but is, instead, normative in service of social justice.

  2. The Brian Dubie campaign must not be aware that there’s already a Pure Michigan slogan: https://www.michigan.org

    Also, our maple syrup is better!

    1. Shots fired.

      Saskatchewan maple syrup is best.

      1. Sasquatch maple syrup ( from Sasquatches with maple syrup disease; see http://www.healthline.com/heal…..ne-disease ) is THE very best, though!!! Have you ever tried Saskatchewan Sasquatch maple syrup?!?! Heavenly squared!!!!

        1. Tabernac. Quebecois maple syrup is the finest in the world. And, VT is a progressive shithole. Like many places, a beautiful location pretty well spoiled by, flatlanders, trying to make it just like back home. They’ve forgotten the high taxes, crushing regulation that came w/ their vision of social paradise. And that that was why they left.

          1. And, VT is a progressive shithole.

            Fortunately for goobers, they are able to vote with their feet by moving to conservative states such as Mississippi, West Virginia, Alabama, Oklahoma, and Wyoming. Such moves also are fortunate for people who prefer less ignorant, intolerant, superstitious, backward, poorly educated neighbors.

            Let the sorting continue.

      2. Ha! The *best* syrup is from here in Utah, Western Family brand. It has at least 2% Real Maple Syrup(TM) in it!

        Hey, why is everyone suddenly looking at me with pure disgust, all of a sudden?

    2. I just finished boiling 100 gallons of Michigan sap down to 12+ pints of ‘Pure Michigan’!

    3. And let’s not forget about that time that Vermont tried to have Lake Champlain declared one of the Great Lakes!

      It’s funny — here in Michigan, we have some crazy ‘Curtis Reed’ types, too, but none, AFAIK, have ever seized on the ‘Pure Michigan’ tourism campaign as raising the specter of the Aryan Nation.

      1. Some?

      2. That’s because, being infested with Democrats, Michigan is already a purely Aryan Nation; thus, “Pure Michigan” is merely an apt description.

        Vermont has downright out-in-the-open Socialists, so they won’t be pure until the Socialists purge the Democrats (or vice-versa).

  3. So in 2010 someone does the equivalent of mouthing off about how ‘fundamentally change America’ secretly means Communism, and you somehow didn’t convince a state commission they should be blackballed for it?

    Did you have anything else to offer than this one (admittedly silly) statement?

    1. If Vermont is like Nazi Germany, then who is the Vermont version of Hitler?

      Look for a person who advocates a nationalist version of socialism…

      1. One might argue that the main thing about Hitler was all the war and Holocausting, not the semantics of his party’s name.

        1. Being in the midst of my daughter’s wrestle with AP World History, supplemented by my history-buff husband’s several years’ service in small town Germany (guarding US Pershing missile bases, with spare time spent chatting with German citizens, often about Hitler and WWII), I am aware that Hitler and his cronies were able to do “all the war and Holocausting” by coming to power on the premise of National Socialism (and handing out lots and lots of free bread).

          1. Indeed. What is in “semantics”? All this “war and Holocausting” wasn’t so much the direct result of the “national” part, as it was the “socialist” part, as demonstrated by the “war and Holocausting” and/or “war and Holodomoring” done by other nations.

        2. “One might argue that the main thing about Hitler was all the war and Holocausting, not the semantics of his party’s name.”

          One might argue that I was simply riffing on the guy’s Nazi comparison…as a joke.

          1. Sorry Eddie – as you can tell from susancol, your post looks a lot like some other people’s sincerity.

            To be fair, your post still made my morning, as I was kinda happy with the contrast between wacky wording and dark subject matter in my use of ‘Holocausting.’

  4. Propelled by a sense of grievance that an erstwhile dominant culture was, somehow, being racially undermined, Nazi Germany built gradually, step-by-step, toward tolerance for racism. Each step increased acceptance for something nasty, but not in itself as horrific as the conclusion. Roughly, the steps were:

    1. Race-based cultural advocacy;

    2. Race-based political advocacy;

    3. Race-based laws;

    4. Race-based institutional changes, especially in education and government;

    5. Violent racial attacks on civil society;

    6. Mass murder.

    Throughout the American political right-wing?and illustrated on this blog?we see:

    1. Race-based cultural advocacy;

    2. Race-based political advocacy;

    3. Advocacy for race-based institutional changes, especially in higher education, and;

    4. Flagrantly, a sense that an erstwhile dominant culture is being racially undermined.

    Folks with a sense of history are not ridiculous if they hear such historical echoes with growing unease.

    From the political right, the nation hears . . . insouciance, and ridicule for concerns, exampled by this OP.

    Disregard of opponents’ concerns is a historical hallmark of failed politics, leading not infrequently to intervals of disorder, or even chaos. The American left has for some time provided to the right an arrogant example of disregard for the right’s concerns. That example is one which both left- and right-wing advocates should take as cautionary, not instructive.

    1. In many parts of the political left wing we see

      1. Race-based cultural advocacy;

      2. Race-based political advocacy;

      3. Race-based laws;

      4. Race-based institutional changes, especially in education and government;

      5. Violent racial attacks on civil society

      Does it follow that the Left is going to set up extermination camps?

      1. Eiddie: “Does it follow that the Left is going to set up extermination camps?”

        Shhh! Don’t give them ideas!

      2. Eidde, on the political right, so often race-based policies of inclusion advocated by the left are equated to race-based policies of exclusion on the right. That’s one you ought to think over. If you can’t see why that kind of presumed equivalence is morally repugnant, you are probably relying too much on faulty reasoning, plus an unwarranted assumption that true racism is always a matter of corruption of the heart.

        1. Could you define “race-based policies of inclusion,” and give examples?

          Without a more precise definition, it’s just a slogan. Who could be against “inclusion,” after all?

          1. In fact, without a more precise definition, it’s like debating Snuggle, the fabric softener bear

    2. Does it hurt being that ignorant Stephan?
      Or just normal for a Progressive ignorati?

    3. Ironically enough, the Nazi Party was heavily influenced by the Democrat Party of the United States: but even they weren’t racist enough to adopt the “One Drop of Blood” rule used by Democrats to determine who was black.

      Furthermore, in general, the Left has a well-trodden history of holocaust-inducing policies, just as bad (if not worse) than that of the Nazis.

      Meanwhile, I’d still like to see how Libertarians (including Libertarian racists), and to a certain extent, Conservatives as well, are supposed to bring about a holocaust, and yet be true to their limited-government principles, and their principle of non-aggression.

  5. Vermont seems like a giant theme park ? a Colonial Williamsburg for people nostalgic for a time they only ever imagined.

  6. Does Prof. Heriot still claim to be a transparty person, trying unconvincingly to pass as a nonRepublican?

    Has Prof. Heriot tried conversion therapy?

    If Prof. Heriot is still claiming to be a trans-oriented person, does she count against the Volokh Conspiracy’s proud, traditional, all-white, all male purity record?

    Does it affect the analysis that Gamin’ Gail is so transparently faking it? Or is her disingenuous conduct excused by her valiant efforts to protect whites, males, and Christians from persecution in Modern Hellscape America?

    1. In a secret ceremony, the Patriarchy declared her an honorary male.

      1. Comm. Heriot is every bit as male as non-Republican.

        Juan Non-Republican?

        1. Don’t forget all those white women who betrayed their own sex (their own gender?) and voted for Adolf Trump.

          1. Most of them considered their allegiance to half-educated, intolerant whites more important than their connection to other women.

            In a free country, downscale, backward women have rights, too.

            1. So you agree that they’re not *really* women, but a bunch of Nazi SS she-wolves?

              1. Intolerant, stale-thinking women are women, too.

                1. “Intolerant, stale-thinking women are women, too.”

                  I agree, but enough about Democrat constituents. We’re talking about Vermont politics here!

        2. Comm. ?

          (Not familiar with Comm. Crom? Yes. Comm? Not so much.)

          1. Commissioner.

            Conspirator Heriot gamed the system to claim one of the non-Republican seats on the civil rights commission when President Bush (I believe) was stacking the deck for old-timey wingnuts.

            1. Commissioner. I should have known that.


              Thanks Art

              1. No need to frown. There is no strong convention of which I am aware. Some use “Comm.” Others, especially in legal contexts, use “Commr.” I have seen one or two others.

                We may observe the diminution of such abbreviations soon, for reasons ranging from reduced reliance on relatively costly ink and paper (and scarce space) to the emergence of proportional fonts for headlines.

  7. Thank you for leading me down the path to WOKENESS.
    My first thought when I read ‘Pure Vermont’ was of maple syrup. Here, all this time I was a closet Nazi. What a fool am l. In the future l’ll strive to discern what grievance group others identify with by assessing the tone of their flesh, global region of origin, religion and their sexuality of the day.

    1. Honestly, when I think “Pure Vermont”, I think of green forests. But then, I pretty much just drove through the forested side (the one bordering New York State) the one time I visited Vermont.

  8. Well, Gail, it’s nice to see you’ll fit in just fine with the rest of VC’s gang of bitter malcontents. Nothing brings me back to the VC better than contributors bringing out their old, rusty axes for another good grinding.

    1. Let’s not fault conservatives for muttering bitterly as society progresses despite their efforts and aspirations.

      Bitter muttering is most of what right-wingers have left after decades of progress, tolerance., reason, and modernity.

      1. Kirkland, lay off the bitter muttering bit. If you understood it better, you would know it works like tribulation in bluegrass music. You redefine something God-awful as an amenity, so you can have at least one thing to feel good about.

        1. Others are free to wallow in political correctness.

          I call bitter muttering bitter muttering.

          Accuracy is generally a virtue.

  9. I would be curious to find out if any of the folks involved in the story had read “It Can’t Happen Here” by Vermont native Sinclair Lewis. Just curious if that is part of some folks influence.

  10. I think part of the difficulty here is the natural human tendency to develop jargon. People within a discourse group assign special meanings to words, which they then sometimes mistakenly attribute to the general population.

    “Purity” really has taken on a very negative connotation in the circles the gentleman has been traveling in.

    1. I enjoyed offering one of my Republican friends an opportunity to attempt to ascribe a benign meaning to Pres. Trump’s use of “breeding” the other day.

      He stopped trying after about 30 seconds. I blame his education and character.

      1. I enjoyed offering one of my Republican friends

        You mean the red sock you put on your right hand?

        1. I have trouble believing RAK has “friends” in general, let alone a Republican.

  11. I’m quite sure Vermont can decide who they want without outside counsel

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