Top News ’21: Essex student and CRT critic fired from lifeguard job (June 17)

Alex Katsnelson has been fired from a job with the Essex Parks & Recreation Dept. as a result of his public opposition to Critical Race Theory in Essex schools

“It takes a village to attack a teenager,” Klar says

By John Klar
After a well spoken student from Essex High School vocally opposed the teaching of Critical Race Theory (CRT) at a public town hall–style meeting to discuss CRT implementation in Vermont schools, he was promptly fired by the Essex Junction Parks and Recreation Department. Initially, the contrived cause was “concerns around your ability to adhere to … core values,” but it was switched to “perceived threats” that “cause legitimate concern around your ability to equitably look out for the safety of everyone who attends our pools.” This is CRT in action — shame and attack anyone who dares challenge its race-based tenets, even teenage lifeguards.

The brouhaha began when 18-year-old Alex Katsnelson read a prepared statement at the Essex public CRT discussion event. Like a sad-sack sitcom, the Essex Parks & Rec bullies pounced on the kid, parsing out his words to contrive imagined sleight:

While all of your comments are concerning, several of the comments you made publicly stand out — the first being: “the residents of Essex and Westford will not stand idly by as anti-whiteness invades our school system.” The second being: “what you people plan to do is redistribute opportunity based solely on individual identity.” The third being: “This is why we have fifth graders coming home and saying they wish they were black.”

A grade-school comprehension of free speech law would inform these miscreant bureaucrats that this language does not remotely approach “threat speech” or “true threats.” Alex Katsnelson’s comments are pure political speech, in a political forum — one of the most highly protected forms of speech in American jurisprudence. Parks & Rec is guaranteeing Alex a slam-dunk lawsuit!

The United States Supreme Court has ruled that speech that advocates the use of force can be restricted when it is directed to, and likely to, “incite or produce imminent lawless action.” Nothing in this student’s comments remotely approaches that strict standard. Yet the June 10 Essex P&R letter intones gravely:

The first comment mentioned above could be taken as a threat against the school and/or our community. It is aggressive and threatening and nature, while also being vague enough to elicit fear. The second comment mentioned above uses an offensive phrase “you people” while also being very vague and intimidating in nature. The third comment, along with the rest of the public comments we have referenced, shows that you do not possess, and that you cannot uphold, the Village core beliefs and values around racial equity, diversity and inclusion.”

It takes a village…to unconstitutionally attack a teenager. The constitutional standards that apply to government entities do not permit the censorship of employees for saying things deemed “very vague,” that “could be taken as a threat,” or that “are vague enough to elicit fear.” These bully bureaucrats are simply censoring this young man in the name of their “core belief”:

Live the “golden rule” in every interaction by demonstrating a deep regard for the diversity, needs, feelings and beliefs of all people and acknowledging the ideas and opinions of everyone.

This perfectly exhibits the pernicious nature of CRT ideology — it pretends to be inclusive but is brutally insistent on adherence to its cultish, race-based tenets. More, it disregards merit in favor of ideological compliance: Alex Katsnelson is not criticized as an unfit lifeguard — by all indications, he is superior in those qualifications. He was fired solely for his political expression in a public forum:

We have made the determination that your public comments cause legitimate concern around your ability to equitably look out for the safety of everyone who attends our pools. In addition, we feel that your public comments are likely to cause future disruption with our residents. Your comments have already begun to cause disruption amongst your peers who have seen them. Your position by its very nature requires a degree of public trust, not often found in other instances of public employment. We cannot create an unsafe environment at our pool, nor can we create a situation where any of our residents feel unsafe or unwelcome at our pool.

The Essex-Westford School Board approved the Critical Race Theory curriculum on June 15. After thanking “those who opposed the equity policy for helping him to think more deeply about the district’s equity work,” board member Brendan Kinney exhibited his enlightened depth of thinking (and the central CRT tactic of shaming and attacking anyone who dares question it’s racist ideology):

“Historically the work of school boards has been apolitical. Yet in recent months, we’ve seen partisan tactics being used to promote a political agenda,” Kinney continued. “They spread misinformation, they take and twist comments out of context, they use false equivalence in making their arguments, and they deploy scare tactics to confuse parents and taxpayers.”

It appears as though the government actors in both Parks & Rec and the School Board are oblivious to the perverse irony in their words. Their ideology excludes the very possibility of “acknowledging the ideas and opinions of everyone” — that’s what the First Amendment does, and they seek to eliminate that protection for anyone who dares differ with their new religion.

They are eliminating lifeguards at the public pool for having differing opinions, because Vermont’s CRT advocates are determined to drown young children in a toxic experimental ideology. But that United States Constitution remains a mighty rescuer…

38 replies »

    • Equity has its roots in Marxism and is nothing more than a repackaged version of Critical Race Theory, with the goal of dividing people by race versus class. If you voice your opposition to CRT/Equity you are deemed a hater and white supremist, as community members in Essex have labeled those who oppose labeling white children as oppressors and other groups as victims.

      This is a political agenda, as last year the EWSD school members were openly and publicly campaigning their support for their preferred candidate running on the platform of social justice.

      I have spoken to many parents, who oppose what is going on in Essex and across Vermont, but they are afraid that if they speak out, they will suffer the same fate as Alex. We live in a country that protects individual rights, although these rights are now threatened by the new socialist/Marxist regime, where the collective/community is the judge, jury and executioner. There is nothing equitable about this ideology. I am shocked that people would so willingly give up their individual rights to be coerced into submission by the collective.

  1. What are the names of the employees and managers in the Parks and Recreation branch who made the decision to fire him, and who wrote that ridiculous letter to him ???

  2. This is absolutely outrageous. The only threat is being perpetrated by the people who fired this young man. It is chilling that the constitutional right to free speech has been so egregiously violated. I hope there will be a public outcry.

  3. Great article! You are not allowed to speak your mind today. PC Smug SJW’s masquerading as local public officials here in Bernie Land, grassroots imitation of what the left is doing on our state and federal levels, decriminalizing criminals, and banning the First Amendment Contrary-liberal arrogance belittles Law&Order, US Military, police, Republicans-NOT COOL. Male&Female, Passe.

  4. We seriously need to stop using their asinine terminology. They’re not “anti-racists”, they’re “segregationists”. This young man should absolutely sue, and I would happily contribute to any crowd-funding effort to cover the costs. He had the courage to stick his neck out, and I really hope he has the courage to stand up for himself after this disgusting attack on his character.

  5. This was one of the most well spoken young men I have heard in a long time. His voice should not be silenced nor should he be punished for speaking his mind.

    To think that these CRT supporters equated him standing up for what he believes in with some sort of malice where he would not help someone based upon their color or beliefs is nothing less than projection and hugely insulting. It really does show who the racists really are and apparently they work at Essex schools and park and recs.

    There must be a business owner out there that could help him out??

    Here is their contact information:

    Light them up and explain to them how disgusting this is.

    “To silence those who you oppose is to only hear yourself.”

  6. The Essex / Westford school board needs to be replaced with ppl who have read and understand the Constitution. Americans must express themselves and defend Liberty!

  7. The American Center for Law & Justice needs to be contacted asap! This is ridiculous and a scary hint of things to come if we don’t stand up now!

  8. Unfortunately the left has forgotten that everyone else is allowed to express their opinion too. I really fail to see the parallel of expressing your opinion of a subject that the Essex/Westford school board insist that they aren’t teaching but are, versus saving people from drowning. Maybe it’s the Town of Essex and the school board who’s floundering and needs saving?!?

    Sen. Russ Ingalls

    Essex/Orleans District

  9. It is not hyperbole to compare “these people” and its Critical Race Theory movement to Mao’s Cultural Revolution or Hitler’s Nazi regime. Just as the latter two, “these people” employ the same psychological social conditioning methods and intimidation tactics to silence dissent and aim to use force to achieve domination. Ignorance of both American history and political philosophy, gullibility in intelligence and manipulation of ‘White Guilt’ largely drive this following. Lincoln’s House Divided speech is worth reviewing as – seemingly like now – it was a precursor for ominous things to come.

  10. Get used to it or organize a backlash as large and loud as they do. Life in Vermont is now behind the Iron Curtain as long as these communist/Marxists stay on their pedestals of power.

  11. I had a lot of questions about this “informational event” when it was first announced and was brutally attacked for asking them. Should anyone dare to question the Party, the Collective, the Reich, the totalitarian movement du jour, they are subjected to ridicule, marginalization, persecution and, ultimately, punishment (even severe and terminal). We did not learn from history. We go forward with our fingers in our ears going “la la la la la la la” to try and drown out the truth that history has taught us time and time and time again. Scoff if one likes, but this has all happened before and is happening again and we’re too afraid, complacent or stupid to recognize it and do anything about it.

  12. Gracious. The delusional network displayed by this board is breath taking…and air tight. To charge ourselves with rebutting such thinking is futile. They put forth their CRT apologia with vocabulary and phrases we know and would have little objection too…but THEY’VE CHANGED THE MEANINGS. It’s like saying “We all disapprove of racism…right” meaning “hold still, we’re going to de-racism your kids for you”. I can see two options: REFUSAL…coach your kids to resist/refuse to engage in things you don’t approve…the lies (see “Based”, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn). Or ESCAPE…leave the plantation…have your Montpelier representatives release you (and teachers) from this monopoly…empower you to take your funds to schools/teachers you choose…the money follows the kid.

  13. My Dad was a lifeguard in the Navy in Penscacola, FL during WW 2. He was the lifeguard for the black people as the pool was segregated. Being from VT, it was determined that he could be trusted to actually save the back sailors and their families as it was clear that the southern guys would not. My father was horrified to learn about segregation and racism. They drained and washed pool for the white families to enjoy after the blacks had their time. Even as a right wing Republican and founding member of the John Birch Society, I think my Dad would agree that people who cannot be trusted to save everybody should not be lifeguards. If I were black, I would not want a life guard who is so afraid of people of my race. The sad fragility of white people astounds me. White guys from Essex VT honestly have very little to worry about in the world of reverse discrimination.

  14. Jodi,
    There is no such thing as “reverse discrimination”, it’s just plain old discrimination. The skin tone of the perpetrator and the victim are completely irrelevant.
    Remember you are either anti-racist or racist, and judging the lived experience of others based on the color of their skin is racist.

  15. These CRT people are obviously trippin. They’re drinking electric cool aid, and don’t even suspect the bum trip they are about to embark on. Their convoluted logic is anything but benevolent, and hopefully will cause parents to more closely monitor, and question the garbage that the education system in this country is brain washing their children with. Remember, “garbage in, garbage out”. I hope that this issue is settled before it reaches the point of violence at school board meetings, but I believe that out come is in the hands of the school boards, and teachers. First they must come to realize that they serve at the pleasure of the parents, not the other way around.

  16. CRT is a brutal intellectual terrorism and it has infected Vermont in a malignant way. Always the same tactics as those used by the far left intellectuals in Europe who defended Stalin and Mao . The method was to demonize anyone who was not communist as imperialist, fascist, colonialist, xenophobic , racist . With CRT today the same method applies to anyone who refuses to hate his/her own white skin. There is no way out of this but to fight. Again I am baffled to see that the Vermont Digger, as of now, has not covered the meeting in Rutland yesterday nor the firing of Alex Knasnelton . It is chilling to realize a news media “in pursuit of the truth ” is working hard at ignoring it.

  17. Kudos for Alex! He sounds like a thoughtful intelligent young man who is capable of critical thinking which is far more than the leftist SJW’s who run VT are able to do. Sad what we have sunk to.

    Alex- whatever you do, don’t apologize. You are in the right. And you absolutely have a right to your own opinions, none of which would impact your work as a lifeguard! They are just punishing you for speaking your own mind(and having a mind!).

  18. Couple of years ago I remember seeing an article about a Vermont statesman commenting on how unsophisticated Vermonters are and that we would likely benefit from interactions with China . I think Vermont is in trouble and I think the people need to stand strong in every aspect of what has been going on and is going on and will continue if we don’t stand and fight it’s on your back door people they are dividing us in In every way possible on purpose .For their agenda. Time to start taking legal actions filing affidavits because I think attacking their pocketbook is the only thing that’s going to work.

  19. So ironic. The social justice warriors proclaim that they are seeking equity through CRT – yet not a peep from them as the lives of unborn babies – babies who are disproportionately BIPOC – are killed in the womb by abortion everyday…..

  20. Well, if someone has a problem with CRT, they will obviously not know anything about pulling a drowning person from a pool, correct…so what’s the big deal…? Honestly, I hope they have a hell of a time trying to fill that job now that any skeleton opinion in one’s closet or the wrong “core values” will get you canned.
    On one day the leftist/statist/collectivist contingent is commiserating about how traumatized the children are by the COVID pandemic, the Trump Administration, and climate change. Now they want to make all the “white” kids hate themselves. There is certainly a bright future for the counseling and psychology professions and in the pharmaceutical industry producing all the necessary remedies for OCD and traumatic stress disorders. If this national and regional unhealthy obsession with race does not get cured in the next election, we are in for the full Venezuela treatment by the Biden “administration” (or lack thereof). Elections have consequences. This madness has got to stop.

  21. Look at how many comments are supporting this kids right of free speech and the acknowledgement of misuse of power by our elected and appointed officials. We have tried debate and have been slapped down. We have paid our taxes but see it used to hire more CRT alumni. We have protested with are grievances and have been canceled. We have been denied forensic analysis of our elections by the courts. We have tried all peaceful avenues to have our grievances met. The citizens of Essex deserve better. You’re not as organized as the Nazis. You’re not as disciplined as the British. You’re not as fierce as the imperial Japanese. You’re not as brutal as Isis. And we beat them all. You’re next. Freedom is never given. It is earned, fought for, won, and taken. You’ve filled us with terrible resolve and have awaken a sleeping giant.

    • I think Don’s got it about covered here folks — the “GIANT” will be apparent at the voting booth — lets vote in some folks who will object to all this wrong-think and intrusive over reach.

  22. Curious that there has been no response from the Parks and Rec folks that were so indignant, eh?

  23. Folks, We have to get off our rears and make ourselves known! We are now the silent majority and if we do not support what we believe, we will eventually be totally silenced by the left.
    Join any group which mirrors your beliefs , talk to anyone, donate, support Epoch Times and Guy financially. Go to meetings and speak up.
    Burlington GOP is re-activating under pressure from people who hate what is happening here.
    Citizens Unite!

  24. Just getting into this story a bit…appreciate Alex’ diversity of opinion…and his desire to share this publicly. Isn’t that the point of ‘education’ ? Used to be…Open dialogue…seeing issues from both sides…debate…then shake hands, because you’ve helped to mature each other…post modernistic society doesn’t like that approach. It’s basically consumed with self! I guess that there might be an advantage of being raised ( at least in the formative years) in a multi racial neighborhood where we could play together, go to school together, pledge allegiance to the same flag together, and recite the 23rd Psalm together (a public elementary school). BTW, God is color-blind…and we, who have ALL fallen short of His love for us, each have the opportunity to receive (and pass on) that love. Alex chose…his intent, more than likely, was not to ‘offend’, but to offer to anyone of any race a different way to look at a difficult subject. The school board… biggest concern is for the parents who will be sending their children there to ‘learn’. Alex’ point is also a call to parents, Isn’t it? Amen.

  25. I am embarrassed and ashamed of what has happenned to “my High School”

    EJHS ’62 stood loud and proud, and straight ahead into a productive world

    Now Students crawl out hoping to keep some semblance of sanity,
    handicapped by racial poisoning – too much like Nazism

  26. Essex / Westford I hold You accountable for the destructive of the Constitution .Equality is written in the constitution and always has been .If you think for one second this stupidity CRT will bring changes for equality you are delusional or misinformed. Wake up not woke up ! Do your homework!

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