Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee didn’t see this coming.
The Texas Democrat has a well-earned reputation as much for vicious partisanship as for not being the brightest bulb on Capitol Hill.
But when it came to trying to bully an outraged mother during a hearing on critical race theory, she more than met her match.
Testifying at the hearing was Asra Nomani, the mother of a former student at Thomas Jefferson High School in Fairfax County, Virginia, and co-founder of a group that successfully sued the county school board over new admissions policies at the school that increased the number of black students by reducing its number of Asian students enrolled.
Nomani’s background is not that of a typical education activist.
She immigrated to the United States with her Sunni Muslim family as a child from India, and she’s also a former Wall Street Journal reporter and co-founder of the Muslim Reform Movement, which battles fundamentalist Islam and Islamist terrorism. At the hearing, she was representing the group Parents Defending Education, for which she serves as vice president of strategy and investigations.
In short, Nomani is not someone to be trifled with.
When Jackson Lee, a left-wing Democrat even by the standards of the left-wing-dominated contemporary Democratic Party, started to grandstand at the hearing, Nomani started to record on her cellphone.
Jackson Lee didn’t like it and ordered her — in increasingly strident tones — to cease.
It didn’t go well for her.
Check it out here:
Today @DevonWesthill + I testified sincerely on the racism of critical race theory. Rep Sheila Jackson Lee disparaged us as political. I started filming my evidence, juxtaposed with her denials. “You need to put down your camera,” she said in a subcommittee on the constitution 🤦🏻♀️ pic.twitter.com/kthyIRFlqn
— Asra Q. Nomani 🐻 (@AsraNomani) March 2, 2022
“I need you to put down your camera, please,” she said, in the kind of tone where ostensibly polite “please” sounds more like an officiously dictatorial “NOW!”
“You need to put down your camera,” she reiterated. “You need to put down your camera.”
In apparent disbelief, Nomani declined.
“Why do I have to put down my camera?” she asked. “I mean, this is free speech.”
Obviously not expecting that kind of lip from some lowly citizen — even one addressing the House Judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution, civil rights and civil liberties — Jackson Lee turned off her microphone to get some advice on how to handle the situation.
The advice was inaudible but probably boiled down to something along the lines of: “Madame Representative, you’re making a fool of yourself again, stop it.”
With that, Jackson Lee turned her mic back on and resumed, claiming she had “asked respectfully” and Nomani had chosen “not to be respectful.”
No one who watched that interaction would consider Jackson Lee’s behavior “respectful.”
It can be tiresome to play the double standard game, but one can only imagine how a liberal politician like Jackson Lee or the mainstream media would have reacted if it had been a white Republican — say, Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert — who had spoken that way to a witness testifying with the left-wing perspective on systemic racism of critical race theory.
In a way, the interaction was a microcosm of the kinds of conflicts that have been going on across the country between parents and school boards obsessed with imposing coronavirus restrictions on schools as well as critical race theory, spurring outrage from their communities.
Those exercises in petitioning the government for a redress of grievances are viewed as incipient fascism by Biden administration, of course, which is why Attorney General Merrick Garland saw fit to issue a memo to the FBI and U.S. attorneys claiming there had been a spike in “harassment, intimidation and threats” against school officials and declaring that the “department is committed to using its authority and resources to discourage these threats, identify them when they occur, and prosecute them when appropriate.”
The memo, which ordered the federal authorities to coordinate with local law enforcement, was widely seen as a thinly veiled intimidation tactic aimed at Americans who are freely exercising their rights as citizens as “domestic terrorists.”
The fact that the whole matter turned out to have been rigged by the Biden administration’s own Department of Education, as demonstrated by emails unearthed by Nomani’s Parents Defending Education group, just added to the disgrace of the affair.
(As Fox News and other outlets reported, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona had solicited a letter from the National School Boards Association that likened activist parents to those engaging in “domestic terrorism.” At Tuesday’s hearing, Nomani wore a shirt with the words, “I’m a mom, not a domestic terrorist.”)
But the reality is, American parents — and American voters — aren’t going to be intimidated, as Nomani demonstrated to Jackson Lee.
They showed that in the election of Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin in Virginia in November. They showed it even in the liberal bastion of San Francisco in the recall of three school board members in February.
They showed it on Friday when a federal judge ruled in favor of Nomani’s group challenging the discriminatory admissions scheme imposed on her son’s former high school.
In what The Washington Post called a “stark order,” District Judge Claude Hilton ruled that emails among Fairfax County school officials demonstrated that the school board’s admission policy was designed “to change the racial makeup to TJ to the clear detriment of Asian-Americans.”
“The proper remedy for a legal provision enacted with discriminatory intent is invalidation,” Hilton wrote, according to the Post.
“Defendant Fairfax County School Board is enjoined from further use or enforcement of” the admissions system, the judge said.
That’s a victory for Americans against racism — even if it’s woke racism.
And — if every sane American turns out at the polls nine months from now — they’re going to show it in the midterm elections.
Jackson Lee evidently didn’t see Nomani’s defiance coming, but Democrats around the country should be seeing their own, richly deserved, defeat coming almost a year out.
And it can’t come soon enough.