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Candidate opposes race theory

Staff writer

Forty members of Marion County’s Patriots for Freedom showed up Sunday to listen to state treasurer candidate Michael Austin speak at Marion County Lake Hall.

Among them were county commissioners Kent Becker, Dave Crofoot, and Jonah Gehring; Marion city council member Ruth Herbel; and Hillsboro city council member Renee Gehring.

Michael Austin, formerly an author at Kansas Policy Institute and an economic advisor for former governor Sam Brownback, spoke about critical race theory and how taxes could be cut by reducing the state budget.

Before Austin spoke, Iola resident Virginia Macha told audience members they could avoid having to get vaccinated by signing a paper saying they have health or religious objections.

Macha said she was excited the state legislature soon would meet in special session to discuss federal vaccination mandates.

Austin, who is African American, spent much of his time criticizing the idea of teaching critical race theory in schools.

“In my blood is that belief that we can do anything,” Austin said.

Austin asked people to define “discrimination” versus “disparity.”

“Critical race theory is the belief that disparity is the result of discrimination,” he said.

Instead, disparity is the result of choices people make, he said.

“You can’t compare one human being to another because of the choices people have,” Austin said. “I’m saying that critical race theory is racist.”

Austin said Thomas Jefferson and other men who signed the Declaration of Independence were opposed to slavery and made that clear when they wrote, “All men are created equal.”

Jefferson, the nation’s third president, owned 600 slaves over his lifetime.

Austin said it was OK to teach that slavery happened, “but that didn’t happen to you and me, nor should it affect how we treat each other.”

“If schools want to teach critical race theory, families should have the freedom and the resources to leave,” Austin said.

He also called critical race theory Marxism. Marxism is a belief there are workers and richer capitalists who exploit them, which causes class conflict.

One man in the audience said if parents pull their children out of public schools, they still pay taxes for the schools.

“Next question,” Austin quipped.

He answered that money should follow students, not automatically flow to schools.

Later in the meeting, he said parents could send their children to private school or different public schools.

Austin called for more transparency in public spending and said tax relief was “always, always possible.”

He said he could make only recommendations since he is not a legislator, but he could provide a plan for voters to hold their legislators responsible.

After commissioner Kent Becker asked whether voting should revert to being paper ballots, Macha went into a lengthy discussion about “holes in legislation” that allow voter fraud.

People who came to the meeting received lists of who their representatives are and how to contact them and copies of a flyer for Kansans for Health Freedom, an anti-mandate organization.

T-shirts printed with “Lions not sheep,” American and Donald Trump flags, and hats including “Donald Trump 2024,” were sold.

Last modified Nov. 18, 2021

 

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