January 27, 2022

Not This Time

Michael Gale

[2/9/22: transcription updated, lines added]

Del. Nick Freitas stood up to respond to remarks made by Del. Don L. Scott Jr, Portsmouth (D-80) during the January 26 session of the House of Delegates. Del. Scott called conservatives concerned about CRT racists. Scott said, “I understand you found a winning issue, Critical Race Theory. Once again using the old southern strategy to use race as a wedge issue. To use black bodies as a prop in your campaigns. Because I know that when you say those words race sometimes it makes people pay attention. And those folks that have pent up racial issues this is something that they can embrace.”

Referring to Governor Youngkin Scott said, “What I have seen so far is not a man of faith, is not a Christian. But someone who wants to divide the Commonwealth.” “Parents should be reporting on a hotline, to try to separate us and divide us and cause parents go at parents, teachers to go at teachers.” “Mr Speaker, I’m going to implore us to stop using black people and critical race theory as a political tool and start governing.” “We’d like to see the body move forward without using black people as props in your quest to retain power.”

On the video, at the conclusion of Scott’s comments, some people in the House of Delegates applauded.

Del. Nick Freitas, Culpepper (R-30), responded in a way that defended all of us. Whether you’re from Culpepper or from Floyd. South Side Virginia or Southwest Virginia. Here is his response. Any transcription errors are the writer’s errors.

“Thank you Mr. Speaker. I was asked by a colleague of mine on the other side, someone I actually deeply respect, and she asked me was I going to be nice this session. And I thought it was an interesting question. I don’t particularly think of myself as an un-nice person, but I can see how sometimes people would see that differently.

But you know what I’ve never done Mr. Speaker? I’ve never gone on this floor and I’ve challenged the faith of an elected official because I disagreed with them on policy.

I’ve never gone on this floor Mr. Speaker and suggested that the other side of the aisle were racists because they didn’t agree with my particular policy positions.

I’ve never suggested they were sexists because they didn’t agreed with my particular policy positions.

But I’m keeping a running tally so far of this session, we’re not very far into it,

and almost every day,

almost every day,

someone on the other side of the aisle either gets up and either subtly or comes right out and suggests that if you don’t agree with them on policy, well then you’re not a Christian, you’re a sexist, you’re a bigot, you’re a racist.

But the moment someone actually stands up and says wait a second, no, I’m not going to accept that. If you want to debate me on the merits of our particular policies I’m happy to have that discussion.

But the moment you claim – with no evidence other than we don’t agree on a particular policy position – the moment you claim that makes us racist or sexist or bigoted,

Mr. Speaker, I got news. This was tried during the election cycle.

You had a lot of parents coming to their local elected officials asking questions about what was going on in their schools. And the initial response was “Oh, it’s not there,” and then when they saw evidence that it was based off of what their kids were coming home and saying to them, and they went back and re-issued the concern, they were told “Oh, well then you must be a racist.” Because that has been the repeated narrative coming from certain members on the other side of the aisle. And there’s been a lot of times where we just sat here politely and just took it.

Mr. Speaker, not this time. I’m tired of it. My constituents are tired of it.

Because when these claims are made they are not just made against Governor Youngkin, they’re not just made against us. They are made in part against the people that elected to send us here. And I don’t know a single person in this chamber that I would define as racist. Or sexist. Or bigoted. We have very different ideas about how to get to particular end states where all Virginians can be happy healthy prosperous, & free. But just, so I’m very clear, Will I be nice this session? I certainly would like to be. But I’m not about to sit here and listen to that Mr. Speaker. And then go home to my constituents and have them ask me why didn’t you stand up and defend us? So let’s have a robust policy discussion. But if you’re going to question the faith and intentions of anyone that happens to disagree with you, then you don’t get to lecture us on compassion, tolerance, or an open debate. Thank you Mr. Speaker.”

Loud applause is then heard on the recording.

Thank you Delegate Freitas.

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