On Sunday night, as I was doing laundry, I got a text message from a fellow Virginia mother with an interesting invitation: Ben Litchfield, a Democratic Party Virginia Senate candidate from Fredericksburg, was convening a statewide Zoom call of “parents, educations and pro-public school activists” to discuss education issues.
A “mama bear” activist from northern Virginia since June 2020, I thought it was a unique opportunity to brainstorm. A Democrat all my life, I moved to Virginia in December 2008 with my young son, then in kindergarten, only because the state elected Barack Obama to be U.S. president.
Born in India, I am an American Muslim immigrant and single mother, and I thought the state was finally progressive enough for me. With English as my second language when I arrived in the U.S. at the age of 4, I believe in the power of America’s public school system to empower a girl like me to become a reporter for the Wall Street Journal at the age of 23.
That’s why I fight every day to support a public system where teachers are able to spend their time educating my younger self, not indoctrinating kids with divisive, distracting activist agendas.
This time, these activists were hosting a strategy session to develop “a coordinated opposition” to the Youngkin administration’s alleged “attack on public schools, educators, and students.”
The designated “Topic” for the call: “VA Dept of Education and Youngkin Town Hall.” Thursday night, CNN host Jake Tapper is hosting a town hall meeting with Gov. Glenn Youngkin. I know because I’ve encouraged many parents and students to join the town hall.
When I joined the call, I recognized some names. Cheryl Binkley, a former northern Virginia teachers’ union leader, was guiding introductions. Mariane Burke, the local leader of the national activist group, Indivisible, was online.
I knew them well. They had led a successful hit, organized by the Virginia chapter of a national teachers’ union campaign – #RedForEd – to assassinate the character of a friend, Suparna Dutta, an American Hindu immigrant, with the “White supremacist” smear when Youngkin nominated her to be on the Virginia Board of Education. They won a 22-18 vote, with Democrats casting their ballots unanimously against Dutta.
On the call, another woman introduced herself, and then Binkley, a former Virginia Education Association union official, turned to me. I introduced myself fully: I’m Asra Nomani, and I’m a mother in northern Virginia, and I looked forward to learning from others.
“I think you’re in the wrong meeting,” Binkley responded, laughing.
“No, I’m in the correct meeting,” I answered.
While we may have a difference of opinion on a few – OK, many – issues, I thought we could benefit from a much-needed conversation, hearing each other out, at least virtually face-to-face. Binkley had another point of view.
She kicked me out of the meeting, and my only participation was left to my introduction and this note that popped up on my phone: “The host has removed you from this meeting.”
The Virginia Democrats’ removal of me – a Muslim immigrant single mother from India and “woman of color,” as U.S. Rep. Alexandra Ocasio Cortez once described Rep. Ilhan Omar – symbolizes much more than the ejection of one person. It captures the utter failure of the Democratic National Committee to actually be inclusive to the millions of parents – many of them immigrant minority parents – who refuse its lockstep agenda with the country’s two teachers’ unions – the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association.
Even though President Joe Biden won the White House in 2020, Republican Glenn Youngkin won the Virginia governor’s race in 2021, over Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe, who famously sealed his loss with the assertion in a debate that “…I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.”
The arrogance, political corruption and myopia of Democratic Party officials to parents portends bad news for the Democratic Party in 2024 and good news for Republican candidates. On cue, every Republican presidential candidate, former Gov. Nikki Haley, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy and former President Donald Trump – and those still unannounced, like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Virginia Gov. Youngkin – have made education a key issue on their platform.
Take a bow. That’s the mama bear movement driving issues, not the other way around.
On Twitter the next day, the Democrat loyalists didn’t apologize and acknowledge the error of their ways. One user responded: “Good. You have no business in Virginia education.”
But I actually do have business in Virginia education. So does every parent.
Democrats will turn off more parents with their closed-door mentality, and that will drive a wedge issue between traditionally Democratic parents, like Black, Hispanic and Asian parents, and the Democratic Party.
Republicans have embraced a winning agenda item, and they will win the White House if they continue to translate their platforms with policy and legislative answers restoring parents’ rights in America.