Democrats in the Virginia State Senate killed a bill that would require schools teach about communism and its victims. House Bill 1816, the “Standards of Learning; instruction on dangers and victims of communism,” passed the Republican-controlled House of Delegates largely along party lines. But it then died in a committee of the Democratic-controlled state senate.
Democrats voted “nay” after the Virginia teachers union alleged that the bill might lead to negative reactions against Asian students. The Virginia Education Association’s Emily Yen cited the fact that four of the five remaining communist nations are in Asia: China, Laos, North Korea, and Vietnam. (The fifth is Cuba.) “We are concerned that this bill would subject Asian-American students to anti-Asian sentiments,” Yen claimed.
This objection is nonsense, because the bill would have focused on the historical victims of Communism, many of whom were in European countries like Russia, which had a communist regime for three-quarters of a century. Teaching about the evils of communism does not make people hate the people of countries taken over by communism — during the Cold War, schools taught about the evils of the communist regimes in East Germany and Hungary, but that did not make Americans hate people of German or Hungarian ethnicity.
Moreover, Asian immigrants do not identify with the communist regimes of the countries they emigrated from — indeed, immigrants from places like Vietnam and Laos are much more anticommunist than the average American.
The bill called on the governor to “annually issue a proclamation setting the seventh day of November as Victims of Communism Day,” and that the day “be suitably observed” by all public primary and secondary schools.
It also instructed the state board of education to update Virginia’s history and social science learning standards to include the “dangers of communism.”
This is not the first time progressives have conflated the oppressive regimes that rule Asian countries, with the people who live under those oppressive regimes. In 2021, a conservative professor was investigated by his school for criticizing the communist Chinese government, under the premise that criticism of China’s government could constitute racial harassment of Chinese students. After civil-liberties groups like the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression criticized the charges against the professor, they were eventually dismissed.