Media Alert

SUVGOP RESPONDS TO WASHINGTON POST EDITORIAL ATTACKING SUVGOP

SUVGOP's concern over the Fairfax County Public Schools decision to display and award a student's artwork depicting anti-Semitic sterotypes without explanation of the background (see below) received both local and national news coverage plus carried internationally via the Associated Press..


As you will read, the teacher blames President Trump and not the adults monitoring the art show for failure to fully explain the student's intention behind the artwork.  We were gratified that FCPS and Dr. Brabrand responded and acted quickly.  You can find their statement here.


SUVGOP got the Washington Post's attention. On Friday, April 12th, the Washington Post Editorial Board wrote an editorial defending the anti-Semitic artwork the Fairfax County schools displayed and attacking SUVGOP for raising the issue. We'll wear the editorial as a badge of honor.

The Post editorial, titled "A high schooler's controversial artwork should have been celebrated, not censured," is available online (click here).


SUVGOP's full response is below.


April 15, 2019


Letters to the Editor

The Washington Post

1301 K Street NW

Washington DC 20071


Re:   SUVGOP Response to Washington Post editorial “A high schooler’s controversial artwork should have been celebrated, not censured” dated April 12, 2019


Dear Editor:


We wish we could say we were surprised that the Washington Post editorial dated April 12, 2019 and titled “A high schooler’s controversial artwork should have been celebrated, not censured” is filled with material omissions and misleading commentary.  But we cannot.


The Post editorial stated the artist’s intent to oppose stereotypes would have been “more apparent” had the school system included the artist’s statement of intent with the drawing.  The Post’s use of the term “more” is especially misleading. 

 

Let’s be clear what happened.  Fairfax County schools publicly displayed a drawing titled “Jewish People” picturing a man with a hook nose holding a bag of money and wearing a yarmulke.  No explanation.  No artist statement about the intent to show how stereotypes are offensive.  Nothing but the drawing.  There was nothing at all “apparent” about the drawing to suggest it was intended to oppose stereotypes.  No reasonable observer could conclude otherwise.


Yet no adult – neither the teacher, nor the school administrators, nor the contest judges, nor the curators of the display – saw anything wrong with displaying this drawing with no explanation.  In an age where we are bombarded with concerns about microaggressions and “hurtful speech,” no one in authority thought it might not be a good idea to display this picture without any explanation whatsoever.  This is not about the First Amendment – it is about basic common sense and good manners.  


The Post editorial acknowledged the concerns raised by Jewish community members were “understandable” and that “a simple explanation” from the school system about the drawing’s context would have addressed these concerns.  Maybe so.  We’ll never know.  Because that is not at all what happened.


So the complete facts are not shrouded in the darkness in which we are told democracy dies, here is the full response of the teacher to a concerned rabbi that the editorial omits:


This work is not being displayed “by me”.  It was entered by the 17 yr old student and selected by a panel of judges consisting of professional artists, designers and curators. My student is using her freedom of artistic expression to respond to a president who calls Mexicans “rapists” African countries “S[***] Hole Countries” and White Supremacists, “Very Fine People”. She chose to create a portfolio of eight works which are ANTI stereotype. She focuses on Blacks, Whites, Italians, Pakistanis, Jews, Irish etc. Her intent is to point out implicit bias that exists and raises it to the surface in the form of racial ironies. She is pointing out how racism and ugliness is now NORMALIZED by our current president who intends to divide our nation for his own personal gain. Instead of jumping to conclusions and assuming the worst, take a breath. Instead of vilifying me and a 17 year old student, look at your president who is in “your own back yard.”


The Post’s editorial whitewashes this hostile, condescending, and wholly inappropriate response to a concerned rabbi as the art teacher merely having the “temerity” to defend her student. A concerned Jewish community leader raised a concern that even the Post admits was “understandable” and rather than getting the respectful response from a public servant to which he was entitled, the teacher attacked the concerned citizen like a spring uncoiling.  (And for the record: we have no idea what the politics of the concerned citizen are and we do not think the teacher had any way of knowing either.) 

 

We remain concerned about the teacher’s clear ideological animus.  The student’s statement of intent, which the Post liberally quoted in its editorial, says nothing about President Trump.  It was the teacher who dragged Republicans and President Trump into the discussion.  Is her obvious disdain for President Trump making its way into her lesson plans?  Is she expressing it in the classroom?  We would like to think our children receive an education free from the politics of their teachers.  Responses like the teacher’s call our hope into question.

   

Left unanswered by the Post and the school system is why, out of a portfolio of eight works involving different ethnic, racial, and religious stereotypes, the school system displayed only “Jewish People.”  Why was the picture of “Jewish People” different from all the other pictures?


Finally, we were especially troubled by the Post’s pejorative characterization of the Suburban Virginia Republican Coalition’s response to this matter as “getting in on the act” and “lashing out” at the teacher.  The obvious suggestion is that our organization used this incident only as a weapon to attack the school system.  In fact, our organization includes Jewish members residing in Fairfax County and to them this is a real concern. 

 

Sincerely,

Mike Ginsberg, Co-founder

Suburban Virginia Republican Coalition


image244

Media Alert

SUVGOP PAC EXPRESSES CONCERN OVER ANTI-SEMITIC ART AT FAIRFAX COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOL

(ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA) – The Suburban Virginia Republican Coalition (SUVGOP) PAC expressed its deep concern today over the Fairfax County Public Schools’ decision to display and give an award to a student artwork that draws on classic anti-Semitic stereotypes.


The student artwork, titled “Jewish People,” features a man with a hooked nose and a bag of money, along with the caption “No Jew in the world understands the importance of money.” 

When a concerned member of the local Jewish community contacted the teacher for an explanation, the teacher responded:  “[The student] is pointing out how racism and ugliness is now NORMALIZED by our current president who intends to divide our nation for his own personal gain. Instead of jumping to conclusions and assuming the worst, take a breath.  Instead of vilifying me and a 17 year old student, look at your president who is in ‘your own back yard’.”


“There is no place in Fairfax County schools for this type of anti-Semitic drawing,” said Michael Ginsberg, a member of the Suburban Virginia Republican Coalition.  “Worse, the teacher involved allowed her obvious dislike of President Trump to justify anti-Semitic imagery.  Artistic expression is one thing, but justifying inappropriate, anti-Semitic speech by blaming someone else is not a lesson Fairfax County schools should be teaching their students.”


“Based on SUVGOP’s research, suburban voters want their children to be prepared for their next steps after graduation, whether they are college, the military, vocational schools, or the workforce,” Ginsberg said.  “That means focusing on the basics: reading, writing, and STEM.  Teachers and administrators should not be using students to send personal messages to the President, no matter how they feel about him.”


Ginsberg continued, “From Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, to Virginia Delegate Ibraheem Samirah, to this incident, too many people are deploying anti-Semitic stereotypes without any consequences.  The student’s work was a portfolio consisting of eight separate drawings, but the panel of judges selected only the drawing of Jews for an award.  A Jewish student in Fairfax County schools unquestionably would feel deeply uncomfortable seeing this artwork displayed and celebrated.  We call on the Fairfax County Public Schools to apologize to all their Jewish students for singling them out in this biased and shameful way.”


BELOW ARE LETTERS TO THE SUPERINTENDENT OF FCPS AND CHAIR OF THE FAIRFAX COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD


Student Art Work Titled: "Jewish People / No Jew in the world understands the importance of money."

Student Art Work Titled: "Jewish People / No Jew in the world understands the importance of money."

Our Letters to FCPS

To Karen Corbett Sanders, Chair / Fairfax County School Board

March 26, 2019


Ms. Karen Corbett Sanders

Chair

Fairfax County School Board

8115 Gatehouse Road, Suite 5400

Falls Church, VA 22042


Dear Ms. Sanders:


     The Suburban Virginia Republican Coalition (SUVGOP) has learned that a Fairfax County high school student recently won a Scholastic Art Award for a drawing entitled “Jewish People” that depicted a man with a hooked nose holding a bag of money and a caption that reads “No Jew in the world understands the importance of money.”  I have attached a photo of the drawing.


     We further understand that the drawing was part of a portfolio of eight drawings displaying different racial and ethnic stereotypes.  Yet only the drawing of the Jew was selected for an award, displayed publicly at Northern Virginia Community College’s Ernst Community Cultural Center, and celebrated at an awards ceremony.


     When a concerned member of the Jewish community emailed the student’s art teacher his concerns regarding the offensive nature of the drawing, the teacher, Justyne Fischer, responded:


This work is not being displayed “ by me”.  It was entered by the 17 yr old student and selected by a panel of judges consisting of professional artists, designers and curators. My student is using her freedom of artistic expression to respond to a president who calls Mexicans “rapists” African countries “ Shit Hole Countries” and White Supremacists, “Very Fine People”. She chose to create a portfolio of eight works which are ANTI stereotype. She focuses on Blacks, Whites, Italians, Pakistanis, Jews, Irish etc. Her intent is to point out implicit bias that exists and raises it to the surface in the form of racial ironies. She is pointing out how racism and ugliness is now NORMALIZED by our current president who intends to divide our nation for his own personal gain. Instead of jumping to conclusions and assuming the worst, take a breath. Instead of vilifying me and a 17 year old student, look at your president who is in “your own back yard.”


     The teacher’s explanation is nonsensical. There is nothing ironic about the drawing.  It quite plainly depicts the worst forms of anti-Semitic stereotypes.

  

     Worse, this teacher allowed her obvious dislike of President Trump to justify anti-Semitic imagery.  Artistic expression is one thing, but justifying inappropriate, anti-Semitic speech by blaming someone else is not a lesson Fairfax County schools should be teaching their students.  Any remarks by the President are irrelevant, a red herring designed to distract from the obviously offensive nature of the drawing.  We are concerned that this teacher has used her students to send a personal message of disapproval to the President.


     Although Ms. Fischer speaks of “racial ironies,” the true irony is that Ms. Fischer, in defending this artwork, is normalizing the very bigotry she claims to oppose.  One can only imagine how Jewish students attending the awards ceremony or viewing the award-winning art on display must have felt when they saw this depiction of “Jewish People.”  We believe this artwork runs completely counter to the One Fairfax policy of social and racial equity and very much doubt any Jewish FCPS student seeing that drawing felt equal.


     On behalf of myself and my colleagues in the SUVGOP, we call on the Fairfax County Public Schools to apologize to all their Jewish students for allowing them to be singled out in this biased and shameful way.


Sincerely,

Michael E. Ginsberg

SUVGOP Steering Committee Member


Attachment

image245

To Dr. Scott Brabrand, Superintendent / FCPS

March 26, 2019


Dr. Scott Brabrand

Superintendent

Fairfax County Public Schools

8115 Gatehouse Road, Suite 5400

Falls Church, VA 22042


Dear Dr. Brabrand:


     The Suburban Virginia Republican Coalition (SUVGOP) has learned that a Fairfax County high school student recently won a Scholastic Art Award for a drawing entitled “Jewish People” that depicted a man with a hooked nose holding a bag of money and a caption that reads “No Jew in the world understands the importance of money.”  I have attached a photo of the drawing.


     We further understand that the drawing was part of a portfolio of eight drawings displaying different racial and ethnic stereotypes.  Yet only the drawing of the Jew was selected for an award, displayed publicly at Northern Virginia Community College’s Ernst Community Cultural Center, and celebrated at an awards ceremony.


     When a concerned member of the Jewish community emailed the student’s art teacher his concerns regarding the offensive nature of the drawing, the teacher, Justyne Fischer, responded:


This work is not being displayed “ by me”.  It was entered by the 17 yr old student and selected by a panel of judges consisting of professional artists, designers and curators. My student is using her freedom of artistic expression to respond to a president who calls Mexicans “rapists” African countries “ Shit Hole Countries” and White Supremacists, “Very Fine People”. She chose to create a portfolio of eight works which are ANTI stereotype. She focuses on Blacks, Whites, Italians, Pakistanis, Jews, Irish etc. Her intent is to point out implicit bias that exists and raises it to the surface in the form of racial ironies. She is pointing out how racism and ugliness is now NORMALIZED by our current president who intends to divide our nation for his own personal gain. Instead of jumping to conclusions and assuming the worst, take a breath. Instead of vilifying me and a 17 year old student, look at your president who is in “your own back yard.”


     The teacher’s explanation is nonsensical. There is nothing ironic about the drawing.  It quite plainly depicts the worst forms of anti-Semitic stereotypes.

  

     Worse, this teacher allowed her obvious dislike of President Trump to justify anti-Semitic imagery.  Artistic expression is one thing, but justifying inappropriate, anti-Semitic speech by blaming someone else is not a lesson Fairfax County schools should be teaching their students.  Any remarks by the President are irrelevant, a red herring designed to distract from the obviously offensive nature of the drawing.  We are concerned that this teacher has used her students to send a personal message of disapproval to the President.


     Although Ms. Fischer speaks of “racial ironies,” the true irony is that Ms. Fischer, in defending this artwork, is normalizing the very bigotry she claims to oppose.  One can only imagine how Jewish students attending the awards ceremony or viewing the award-winning art on display must have felt when they saw this depiction of “Jewish People.”  We believe this artwork runs completely counter to the One Fairfax policy of social and racial equity and very much doubt any Jewish FCPS student seeing that drawing felt equal.


     On behalf of myself and my colleagues in the SUVGOP, we call on the Fairfax County Public Schools to apologize to all their Jewish students for allowing them to be singled out in this biased and shameful way.


Sincerely,

Michael E. Ginsberg

SUVGOP Steering Committee Member


Attachment

image246