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Reviews |  On the election of Virginia and a battle already lost

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Reviews | On the election of Virginia and a battle already lost

| News Today | Local News

On Tuesday, Virginians will vote to choose their next governor. The Democratic candidate is Terry McAuliffe, who served as governor from 2014 to 2018 but had a limited term. The Republican candidate is Glenn Youngkin, a private equity executive and a newcomer to electoral politics.

There are real material issues in Virginia, where I grew up and where I currently live, from transportation and housing costs to the climate, to economic inequality and, of course, to the Commonwealth’s response to the Covid pandemic- 19. The battleground of this election, however, is the culture, identity and specter of the former president.

McAuliffe and his supporters want Virginians to think a vote for Youngkin is a vote for Donald Trump. “I ran against Donald Trump and Terry is running against a sidekick of Donald Trump,” President Biden said during a speech at a rally Tuesday night in Arlington. “We have a choice,” McAuliffe said at the same event. “A path that promotes conspiracy, hatred, division or a path focused on the upliftment of every Virginian.”

Youngkin, for his part, wants Virginians to know that a vote for McAuliffe is a vote for “critical race theory.” Not the legal discipline that deals with the distance between formal and real equality, but the idea, spread by right-wing activists and their wealthy supporters, that public schools teach a racist ideology of guilt and anti-white sentiment. Youngkin’s singular message has been that he will keep this “critical race theory” out of Virginia schools.

What this means, if the rhetoric of Youngkin’s most ardent supporters is any indication, is an attack on any discussion of race and racism in state classrooms. In an interview along with reporter Alex Wagner, a prominent Republican activist in Virginia said just that, saying it should be “up to parents” to teach students about racism and condemning a school assignment in which a sixth grader blamed President Andrew Jackson for violence against Native Americans.

Try to imagine what it would look like.

It was in Virginia that African slavery took root in the British Atlantic Empire. It was there that, as a result of this development, the English colonists developed an ideology of racism to justify their decision to, as historian Winthrop Jordan put it, “to debase the black”. It was there, in the mid-eighteenth century, that a powerful class of intellectual-planters developed a vision of liberty and liberty inextricably linked to their lives as slave owners, and it is there that a century later, their descendants would fight to build a slave empire in their name.

And all of this before we get to Reconstruction and Jim Crow and massive resistance to inclusive schooling and the many other forces that have shaped Virginia in the present. Just this week came the news of A’s death. Linwood Holton, elected in 1969 as the state’s first Republican governor of the 20th century. Holton entered Virginia schools and broke the back of the segregationist machine Byrd (named after the domineering Harry F. Byrd), which controlled the state from the 1890s to the 1960s.

Taking discussions of race and racism out of the classroom would, in practice, make it impossible to teach Virginia state history beyond the vaguest dates, bullet points, and generalities.

One of the latest ads in the Youngkin campaign features a woman who took offense at Toni Morrison’s “Beloved” after her high school son said the book gave him nightmares when he saw it. had read as part of an AP English course. (I have no doubt this is true, but I also think that if black students are to face racism – and speaking from experience, they do – then white students should at least learn more.)

Democracy requires empathy. We have to be able to see each other in order to be able to see ourselves as political equals. I think teaching history is an important way to develop this empathy. Understanding a person’s experiences in a fundamentally different time and place is to practice the skills you need to see your fellow citizens as equal people, even when their lives are profoundly different and far removed from yours. . That is why it is essential that students learn as much as possible about the many varieties of people who lived and died on this earth.

This democratic empathy is, I believe, a powerful force. It can, for example, cause white children from isolated rural Virginia to march and protest in memory of a poor black man who died at the hands of police in urban Minnesota.

I don’t know who will win the election in Virginia. It looks, at this point, like a tossup. But I do know that, viewed in light of empathy and its consequences, the panic against critical race theory looks like rearguard action in an already lost battle: a futile attempt to turn the tide of race. ‘a force that has already done a lot to undermine the hierarchy and the “good” order of things.

My Tuesday column was about the history of Section 3 of the 14th Amendment and why Congress should expel members who played a role in the January 6 insurgency.

If the ultimate goal of Section 3, in other words, was to preserve the integrity of Congress against those who would seize its power and plot against the constitutional order itself, then Representative Bush is right. to cite the clause against any member of Congress who for collaborating with plotters to overthrow the election and whose allies are still fighting to “stop the theft.”

My Friday column was a bit more introspective than usual, as I tried to explain why I keep writing about structural and institutional changes that I know will never happen:

All this to say that I don’t write about structural reform because I think it will happen in my lifetime (although, of course, no one knows what the future holds). I write about structural reform because, like Dahl, I think and want readers to think broadly about American democracy and understand that it is, and always has been, greater than the Constitution.

Keisha Blain on Fannie Lou Hamer for Time.

Ali Karjoo-Ravary on Denis Villeneuve’s adaptation of “Dune” for Slate.

Garrett Epps on Critical Race Theory for the Washington Monthly.

Talia B. Lavin on corporal punishment in her newsletter Substack.

Anna Gaca on the Clash for Pitchfork.

Andrea Stanley on the trauma of climate change in the Washington Post Magazine.

Feedback If you like what you read, consider recommending it to your friends. They can register here. If you would like to share your thoughts on any item in this week’s newsletter or the newsletter in general, please email me at You can follow me on twitter (@jbouie) and Instagram.

Here is something a little lighter than what I wrote this week. It’s from Dinosaur Kingdom II, a bizarre attraction near the Luray Caverns in Central Virginia. It features life-size dinosaur figurines engaged in pitched battle with Union soldiers. It’s very strange. I visited shortly after returning to Virginia and wasted a few rolls of film taking photos. He was one of the guards.

This is a great butternut squash soup, although not traditional. My only recommendation is to roast your butternut squash before adding it to the pan. I prefer to cut a squash into large chunks and then roast it at about 400 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes, to develop the flavor of the squash. It’s a bit of extra work, but you won’t regret it. The recipe comes from NYT Cooking.


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil or unsalted butter

  • 1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped

  • 1 cup of raw cashews

  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped

  • 1 large butternut squash (about 2 pounds), peeled and cut into ½ inch dice

  • 5 cups vegetable or chicken broth, more if needed

  • 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh ginger

  • 2 teaspoons of ground cumin

  • 2 teaspoons of ground coriander

  • 1 teaspoon of curry powder

  • 1 teaspoon of ground turmeric

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

  • 1 cup of coconut milk, plus a supplement

  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary


In a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, heat olive oil until sparkling. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the cashews and cook, stirring constantly, until the onions are translucent and the cashews are lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the squash, broth, ginger, cumin, cilantro, curry powder and turmeric and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste and bring the soup to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot and cook the soup until the squash is easily pierced with a knife, 20 to 25 minutes. Uncover the soup and let it cool for 15 minutes.

Starting at low speed and increasing to high, reduce the soup in small batches in a blender until smooth. Place a towel on top of the blender in case of splashing. You can also use an immersion blender (let the soup stay in the pot), but it will take longer to puree until smooth.

If using a blender, return the soup to the pot, add the coconut milk and the sprig of rosemary and cook over low heat, covered, until they thicken slightly, about 15 to 20 minutes. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready. If you are serving the soup later while reheating the soup, dilute it with more broth or coconut milk to the desired consistency.

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