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‘I Want to Wake People Up’—Xi Van Fleet, Survivor of Mao’s Cultural Revolution

“The result of the Cultural Revolution … is the total destruction of society.”

In this episode, we sit down with Xi Van Fleet, a Virginia mom from China who made headlines after she compared the rise of critical race theory to China’s Cultural Revolution at a Loudoun County school board meeting.

Just as people in China were designated class enemies at birth, now whites in America are born guilty under critical race theory ideology, she says.

The old catch-all charge of being a “counterrevolutionary” has now been replaced with the new crime of being “racist.” Stripped of its original meaning, it now simply refers to anyone who strays from leftist orthodoxy, she argues.

Jan Jekielek: Xi Van Fleet, such a pleasure to have you on American Thought Leaders.

Xi Van Fleet: Well, such an honor to be invited to your program.

Mr. Jekielek: Oh, that’s very, very kind of you to say. I’ve been watching you a little bit since June when you went up to the mic at the Loudoun County school board and had some strong words to say about trends that you were seeing that reminded you of something you experienced back in China, the Cultural Revolution in fact.

I guess I want to dig into this whole realm. This is our opportunity to do a little bit of a deeper dive into what you saw and what you’re seeing now and actually what’s happened since and a little bit of your background. You’re from communist China.

Ms. Van Fleet: Yes, I am. I grew up in the communist China. I left China for America when I was 26. And when the Cultural Revolution started, I was a first grader and I spent my entire school years in the Cultural Revolution.

And after that, I was sent to the countryside to work in the fields to receive reeducation from the peasants—like many, many urban youth. So I always say I had a full experience of the Cultural Revolution.

Mr. Jekielek: Well, it’s just interesting aside. And then I guess a couple of years after you were sent into the countryside so to speak, the whole policy actually changed, right?

Ms. Van Fleet: Yes. Thank goodness. It’s my third year and Deng Xiaoping was in power and he said we need to start to send youths to college by examination. Before it’s not by examination, it’s by good behavior, it’s by choosing by the party leaders. So he said now it’s by your ability. So I was able to pass the examination and I went to college to study English.

Mr. Jekielek: Why don’t we start with a little bit about what the Cultural Revolution was and then we’ll get into the current day? What was that? And then you can tell me what it was like to be there.

Ms. Van Fleet: Yeah. It’s very important to understand why there was a Cultural Revolution. I did not understand until much later. So there were a lot of disastrous policies that Mao implemented before the Cultural Revolution. And one of them resulted in the famine of some 40 million people [who] starved to death.

So there are some criticism inside the party and there’s some questioning about his leadership. So he felt like his absolute power was in question. So that’s the reason he started the Cultural Revolution to basically remove his political enemies and political enemy up and down. And then the number one was the president of China, Liu Shaoqi. And it goes to the bottom of local government.

They all need to be removed and he wanted to put his own people in every level and that’s the reason and the means that he used to get the masses involved. And then the first one was to unleash the Red Guards. So those are the indoctrinated youth in colleges and universities. It started in Beijing and then quickly spread over. So the Red Guards were mainly school kids.

Mr. Jekielek: Okay, in a sense you said the masses involved, so just the masses, to basically employ them in his quest. And the Red Guards, how were they indoctrinated?

Ms. Van Fleet: Well, that started from day one. So as soon as the CCP took over power in 1949, one of the first things they did was to get all the school teachers together, because they were the teachers of the old China. So they were given intensive communist training to learn about Marxism—to learn about the communist ideology. And they were not even given a weekend off.

They have to be trained day and night until they pass examinations before they could go back to the classroom. So they were there to teach the Marxist and communist values and ideologies. So ever since then, the educational system is an indoctrination meal, ever since then.

But it was during the Cultural Revolution that we get to see the full display of what those indoctrinated kids were able to do, were capable of. And so to that, the Cultural Revolution was a really stunning experience for people who were in that revolution and for people later to see. It was something that if I tell young people in China today and most of them say, “I just could not believe that happened.”

Mr. Jekielek: Well, so tell me a few memories of what you saw happen.

Ms. Van Fleet: I was a first grader, so six or seven. I had one semester of normal education. And then to me, my memory is just overnight and then the class stopped. And I see big character posters everywhere. So those are just people writing down whatever criticism, that’s the Chinese word for it but it is really denunciation and attack of teachers, of school administrators, and of each other.

So anywhere there was a wall space, there’s big character posters. And so I was just too little to really understand the content, but what I remember is the chaos in the classroom. And the teacher wrote a note on the blackboard, [that] said no school for three days. And that stayed there for two years. No school for two years. So when I went back to school, I was in the fourth grade. So I missed second and third grade—no school.

Mr. Jekielek: Fascinating. So you basically got what, a semester did you say?

Ms. Van Fleet: One semester. Yeah.

Mr. Jekielek: One semester and then school went out.

Ms. Van Fleet: Yeah. Just out. And universities, I think they stopped for five years or longer.

Mr. Jekielek: And who were these Red Guards? Were they the extra committed youth? How did they come about?

Ms. Van Fleet: Everyone was a Red Guard. If you were in high school and even in elementary school, [they] were just too little, but were called the Little Red Guards. But they were organized by themselves because Mao openly supported them. And they just chanted Mao’s slogan, “Rebelling is justified.” And Mao said, “Revolution is not a dinner party and it is violent. So go ahead, do your revolution.”

So with Mao’s approval, no one could stop them. So the first thing they did is they dismantled the law enforcement and the court system. So they just did whatever. They even make up their own laws. So one of the things they were told is get rid of those people in authority. And who are the people in authority? The first are the teachers.

So many teachers were struggled against, parade around and many were beaten, some to death. So because I was in the elementary school, just seven year old and up to, I don’t know, 10, 12 years old, even that eventually it gets violent. But I don’t think anyone was killed by elementary school teachers, but people were killed by middle school kids.

There was no consequence. And because of that, they just made up their own rule. I heard this, not from me but heard from another person who witnessed, the beating to death of a man who dared to withdraw ¥1000 from the bank, because the Red Guard said that if you have that much money, you are oppressor, you are exploiter, so you are a counter revolutionary.

So they just did that. No consequence. Even today, their crimes were never prosecuted. Those people who died, died in vain, forgotten, except by their families.

Mr. Jekielek: So you’re talking about this struggling. And so I guess these posters were also encouraging people to join in these struggle sessions. Could you just explain what that is exactly?

Ms. Van Fleet: These struggle sessions was just total confusion to me because there’s no school and we just went out and every day there was a struggle session of someone. And one day I was out with a friend of mine. And so usually they are different, some just use trucks to parade the people and with the sign of the name crossed out. And so when they were there and we looked [at] the name we were stunned… that’s my friend’s father.

And so it’s like, I don’t know, whole. So many people were struggled against and some were very violent. And I went to one struggle session of the governor of Sichuan province, that’s where I’m from. And I was far from… He was standing somewhere high so everyone could see him and the Red Guards were reading out his whatever, criticism or denunciation. And yeah, total chaos.

Mr. Jekielek: It’s incredible to hear about it from someone that really experienced it. Of course, I’ve read a lot about the Cultural Revolution. But you did get older in the process, this lasted 10 years. You were seeing things presumably a bit more clearly when you were 15, 16 or it was just this mass chaos all the way through.

Ms. Van Fleet: I don’t think I ever clearly saw anything. So I remember that I was sent to the countryside. By then, we heard enough horror stories of youth working the countryside and working with the peasants. I did not really want to go, but I had to.

So a lot of times actually, I was blaming myself that I was just weak, that I need to be toughened up so that I can contribute meaningfully for the socialist cause. So a lot of times it’s not like I saw clearly that this was unjust. That’s the power of indoctrination. You feel like, “Oh, I’m just so weak. I really need to be toughened up by those peasants and do those hard labor.”

Mr. Jekielek: I see. So basically you’re imagining that the people who’re running the struggle sessions were the tough ones or something like that.

Ms. Van Fleet: Yeah.

Mr. Jekielek: Wow!

Ms. Van Fleet: I know the indoctrination was very powerful. And so the violence and then the struggle session, that lasted about two years. Actually, by the time I went back to school, it had calmed down. Calm down yeah, but Mao just did not know what to do with all these Red Guards. That’s what he did, to send them to the countryside. So that’s their reward for doing all this damage for Mao.

Mr. Jekielek: Right. And the other part I just have to mention was the destruction of history, actually, which is a central feature.

Ms. Van Fleet: That’s the central feature of the Cultural Revolution. And so Mao told the Red Guards and everybody, “We should get rid of the Four Olds.” The old ideas, old thoughts, old tradition, old custom and old habits. What are they? They are the traditional culture and civilization.

So for you to get rid of it, is to find historic places such as temples and basically anything old. So all the Buddhist statues were torn down, temples destroyed or burned. And what I witness is Red Guards going door to door, to raid homes. And so they would just go to homes and took out anything that’s old.

Old vases, antique furniture, anything. They would just go, take them out and just burn them or smash them. And I remember and this whole street was just a mess of things destroyed and the people holding and crying, those homeowners, because that’s what the Red Guards wanted to do.

And everyone was asked to go over to your home and just find out those old items to hand it over to the authorities. And I remember my mother was looking really hard to find something that we can consider bourgeois or consider old. So she managed to find a bottle of old perfume to hand it over.

Also, they demand that you can’t wear a certain hairstyle. You can’t wear anything that is fashionable—all this is condemned. And I witnessed Red Guards cutting a young girl’s hair off because that girl had a hairstyle that was not approved. It’s insane. It’s absolutely madness.

Mr. Jekielek: As you describe this, this is unleashing people’s worst inclinations, right?

Ms. Van Fleet: Yeah. I think this is because they feel like they could do it, so they did whatever. Just like Antifa, that’s why it just look so familiar to me, when I saw Antifa and the BLM activist, they knew they could do it. Same as the Red Guard. They knew there’s no consequence. There were no consequences.

Mr. Jekielek: So let’s move to the present then since you’re taking us there. So well, for starters people became aware of you as I did when you stepped up to the mic at the school board meeting. And so for starters, what inspired you to do this? Why did you decide to do that?

Ms. Van Fleet: Actually, I have been seeing America going the wrong direction for a long time, for I would say at least 10 years. But the turning point for me was the riot—the chaos on the street. That to me is like this is absolutely [like the] cultural revolution. There’s no doubt whatsoever. This is cultural revolution. So to me, that was the turning point.

After that I said I have to do something. I can’t just stay home, be mad and talk to a few friends who share my values and just complain. I need to do something. So I joined local conservative groups. I was never, ever involved politically. I never registered as a Republican or anything. Most Chinese are like me, we just stay quiet and we very few get involved politically. I’m just typical. But I feel like now I need to step up. I need to do something.

And so as soon as I joined that club and as a very active club, it’s called Loudoun County Republican Women’s Club. I get emails and then call for action. One of them is, “Go to speak to the school board.” I said, “Well, I don’t have children in the school board anymore.” “That doesn’t matter. Because you are a taxpayer, go and talk to them.” That’s what I did.

Mr. Jekielek: And I’m going to backtrack just a tiny bit. So you came to America, I think you were 26, 27 at that point. How did you end up here exactly? What did you find here? .

Ms. Van Fleet: Oh, yeah. America, everyone knows, even though they don’t understand what makes America great. We know America is the best place on the planet earth. So it’s everyone’s dream. So I was able to get an assistantship to come to study for my graduate study, English. And so yeah, it was an envy of my friends [that] I could go to America.

Mr. Jekielek: I guess the question is what you found here then. I don’t know how many years ago down that is, but quite a few. Did it meet your expectations? Was it different? What did you see when you got here?

Ms. Van Fleet: Oh, that’s a big adjustment. It’s 30-something years ago. I would just say that one of the things really I remember vividly is that I was taking the English class and I had to choose a book to write a report. So I said, “I’m going to choose a book that really not well known.” I think it’s by Daniel Defoe, as it probably is easier.

So I just probably read a few critique books. When I went to the library, there was 30 of them. I said, “Oh my God.” In China, probably one or no, because I just realized this is in a way like a diversity of thoughts. And a small book where so many people write critiques about. And then that to me is my first taste of diversity of thoughts. In China, just one. There’s a party line, you follow it, you don’t question it. And now I have to make choices.

The other thing is making choices. In China, there’s no choice, choices were made for you. And so go to college, that I did have three choices of my preferred college to go to. And then after that I was given a job, it’s called assignment. I was given the job and it happened to everyone.

So here choices, making choices was bewildering. Even go to the grocery store. Beef is beef. Oh my God. I have so many choices. That was a learning [experience], I have to get used to it.

Mr. Jekielek: Fascinating. Well, the question I have is then you said it’s about 10 years that you started seeing things moving in a direction that you didn’t expect, you didn’t like, that you were concerned about. So what were the sorts of things that you saw?

Ms. Van Fleet: I have to think hard but there was one example I remember very vividly. It was Trent Lott. It was really back in early 1990s. I think Trent Lott, the Republican Senator, said that he was canceled because he said something that they consider racist. So he has to quit. I thought this is like the Cultural Revolution. And then I did not give much thought to it. But that was, I can remember as my first example that I could relate directly to the Cultural Revolution.

Mr. Jekielek: Fascinating. Okay.

Ms. Van Fleet: That was way back.

Mr. Jekielek: Well, so let’s explore this a little bit, because for a lot of people, they heard you speak and some of them already understand there’s some relationship. But for a lot of people, it sounds astounding. You were telling me people died, people were killed in terrible ways, there were these constant struggle sessions, people were paraded about as you described, cutting the hair off as an example of how people were treated that didn’t conform properly.

So that seems more extreme to a lot of people than maybe what’s happening now. So how is this like the Cultural Revolution really?

Ms. Van Fleet: I think those examples or stories might be extreme, but that’s the direction we’re going. One of the things that I noticed is people are afraid. People are very afraid. I see them, especially in my workplace. So there is the right way to talk. There are the right ideas and the others who don’t share it feel like if they tell their own opinion, they might run the risk of being considered racist.

That’s the word like in China, counter revolution. It fit everyone. So anything or any conservative value cannot be shared openly.

Mr. Jekielek: Are you saying that there’s this term counter revolutionary, which was if you were labeled that, that’s the end?

Ms. Van Fleet: Uh-huh (affirmative).

Mr. Jekielek: That you’re saying the word racist is essentially-

Ms. Van Fleet: It’s the same. Yeah, because it doesn’t mean anything anymore. It’s just like if you step out of the line or if the party leader wants to remove you from the post whatever, the easiest way, just counter revolutionary. There’s no clear definition. And the racist for the longest time, my understanding is an individual act.

And it’s someone who discriminates [against] someone else based on their race. But it was the last few years that it changed meaning. It’s just anyone who disagrees with the ideology from the left, you become a racist. Some is just ridiculous, but that becomes a hat, just like counter revolutionary, that fits everyone.

And in China actually, they have two kinds of counter revolutionary. One is what you did today and what you said today, they can call you a counter revolutionary. And the other is called historic counter revolutionary. It’s what you did before, what you said before.

So now I see the same thing in America because racist become a hat that fits all too. That we see people get called racist for things they said that has nothing to do with racism. And we also see that people get called racist for something they said and did before, just like the historical counter revolutionary.

And like Virginia governor, Northam was called today a racist because in the past when he was in college, he wore blackface. That is the equivalent of the Chinese historic counter revolutionary.

Mr. Jekielek: Something just struck me when you’re talking about these historical counter revolutionary, talking about class enemies, that’s something that you could actually inherit from your parents.

Ms. Van Fleet: This is something that is talked about a lot in the Chinese community. Everyone is very familiar with this classification, red camp and the black camp by Mao. So the red camp are the good ones, are the allies of the Chinese revolution. So the black camp started very early on after Mao took over China.

So the classification of class enemies is based on land owning class or property owning class and so you were condemned as a class enemy. And so a lot of them were executed. The figures said it’s about one million influential land landowners were executed.

So China was a poor country, there were just not that many land owning class. So in order to continue this class conflict Mao has to make new enemies. So one of the things he did is make this hereditary.

So if you were born to parents who used to own land, not anymore because nobody own anything after that, you were considered class enemy at birth. And you carry that label with you and you pass down to your children. So any official paper that you have to fill in… And I remember myself, there was always one question, “What’s your class origin?” And then he expanded because it’s still not enough.

So later he included counter revolutionary, rightist, bad influencer, traitors, spies. There were nine. The last one he added was intellectuals. So they’re all class enemies and you pass that label to your children and the children’s children. And what happened to you when you have that label? You were deprived of many basic rights. One of them, you could not go to college, you could not get promotion to important posts. So you were a second class enemy.

And does that remind us of CRT? Yeah. So you are born guilty, you are born white, then you are the oppressor. And if you are born black, you are oppressed. And for being oppressed people, you have no hope in this oppressive society. And basically, your fate is sealed. You will always be the victim. Exactly same thing.

Mr. Jekielek: Well, so how is it the same thing?

Ms. Van Fleet: It is because that’s the most effective way to divide people and that’s from the Marxist playbook—divide. And the Classic Marxism is divide by class. And it was successfully used in countries like Russia, China, and other underdeveloped countries. But in America, the class did not work so well so far. So they have to come up with something different.

CRT is tailor-made for America. But they don’t stop there. To divide people, they need more things than just race. They still need class because Bernie Sanders still use that as a way to divide people, “super rich one percent and the rest,” set them against each other. And then they have gender, sexuality, and intersectionality. All these are the tools to divide and all these are rooted in Culture Marxism. Mao used it and then the left are using it now.

Mr. Jekielek: So another thing that we talked about which I thought was a very interesting conversation. I want to bring it up here. You were describing a situation that was described to you recently where in the workplace, someone was being accused of being what’s called a microaggression. He said, “Hey, I had the best intentions here.” But that actually didn’t matter in this case. So you had some very interesting thoughts to say.

Ms. Van Fleet: I do. I do. Because again, this is something I lived through in the Chinese Cultural Revolution. So now the left, you can hear it all the time, of the microaggression, micro-assault and the micro whatever. They have a long list of… So I went to one seminar about it.

And so they said intention is not important, it’s the impact. And they use the example that, “Oh, you did not intend to run into another car. That’s not your intention, but you run into another car and damaged that car. That is the impact.” So the intention is not important, it’s the impact.

But to me, that is a false analogy because the intention and the impact are both subjective. The impact is not objective. It’s not like we can say I ruined the car there.

The impact is someone who received your comment and then made a value judgment whether this is a microaggression or not. So this just reminded me of what happened in China, especially during the Cultural Revolution. The impact is determined by the party and your intention was determined by the party. It doesn’t matter what you mean.

And I have a story from my friend. It happened to his father’s colleague. Back in China, everything is communal. So one day in a communal washroom, this guy just casually said, “Oh, the toothpaste, the price went up.” He was reported. And so the party determined his intention is to smear socialism. And he got fifty years of prison sentence.

So that is the danger of a divorce intention and impact. They have to be connected. You may have the best intention and if the other person received it as a microaggression, there’s nothing you can do about it.

And that’s what the environment the left is creating, creating an environment that the common everyday conversation becomes like walking through a landmine. Because you don’t know, whatever you say can be received as a microaggression.

Mr. Jekielek: So then you start thinking about what is the appropriate speech I can use and you start conforming your speech and thinking to all those.

Ms. Van Fleet: That’s right. So they gave you a prescribed term. But the thing that just before you master them… Oh, I used the wrong word, master. But anyway, they come up with something new. So you never get a hand of it and that’s because they want to keep you on your toes.

So you have to be so careful. You self censor and you stay fearful and that’s how they control you. By the way, the word master is canceled.

Mr. Jekielek: Is it?

Ms. Van Fleet: Yeah, it is canceled because of the slavery. So now if you go to Zillow, they call it the primary bedroom, you can’t call it the master bedroom. So I do have a question for those on the left. So how shall I call my master degree? Main degree? Primary degree? How do I say masterpiece? Main piece? Primary piece?

Mr. Jekielek: I want to ask you about something else you mentioned a little bit earlier about reporting. Some people, the more derogatory would call it snitch culture or rat culture. This idea that people are expected to report on the misdeeds or microaggressions or whatever to some authority. This is something that’s a centerpiece of communist society, that’s for sure.

Ms. Van Fleet: Centerpiece. That’s a good word. Yes. And in the Cultural Revolution absolutely, everyone was encouraged to report on everyone else, including your parents. And so there are so many stories of parents being reported by the children and some ended up being executed. And a husband report on wife and vice versa.

And I know someone personally, and it’s just a grandpa holding a baby of his grandson and just having just some kind of talking going on with this little tiny baby. And just on his wall, there’s only one thing, it’s Mao’s picture. That’s always. He said, “Oh, look at that picture.” The neighbor heard it and said that he referred to Mao’s portrait as a picture. He was arrested.

Mr. Jekielek: It’s incredible. So this is this whole idea of prescribed speech being really taken to the-

Ms. Van Fleet: Yeah. And the reporting is like my parents always never have anything like a formal conversation in front of us. We’ll just have a conversation like just a daily short type of thing, because they knew that it can be dangerous. And so because of that even today human relationships suffer from the Cultural Revolution.

People don’t have trust of each other. You don’t know who and when people would turn you in. And so that to me is like I would never imagine that happening in America, but it’s happening all around us, all around us. We see little girls or little children going to social media, denouncing their parents as racist.

And we saw a young student report other student after she was admitted to college of something that she said years ago just to damage and ruin her future. We see it all around us. And in the workplace, people called out those people who make racist remarks.

So we are creating… Oh yeah, Biden said report your family and friends, radicalize the family and the friends to the federal government. So that is the culture. Why? Fear. They want have people be fearful. When people are fearful and watching each other, they’re basically controlled.

Mr. Jekielek: So you mentioned children denouncing their parents. And I want to build on that a little bit. It makes me think of something I wanted to talk about today, which was this letter from the National School Board Association that the Justice Department recently responded to. I mean, ostensibly the letter said that there is an immediate threat of violence actually from parents.

And then the Justice Department very quickly responded basically, “Federal government is going to be working with state, local, tribal and territorial law enforcement to address such threats.” They see this credibly and I can’t help but think I can imagine that there’s lots of parents concerned if they’re seeing children denouncing parents. Is there really a threat? A lot of people are asking these questions right now.

Ms. Van Fleet: Yes. Parents are very angry—they’re angry. But is that considered violence? I guess the parents haven’t been this angry for decades. So many of them went to the school board and voiced their concerns. And they denounced the school board and they have rallies a lot of times and I’ve been to several. So they consider this violence because they don’t want parents to be part of the education decision.

And today I heard that the head of the education department said something like it was the teacher who should determine what to be taught to the school children, not parents. And that is absolutely what happened in China. From day one, we were taught that we belong to the party and we should obey the party instruction. And the parents have nothing to say about the education.

And it’s always that way. I never even questioned it. And actually the parents, if they don’t say anything that’s in line with what’s taught in school, the students or the children can report them. But I did not know that. And the first time I heard that the value should be taught to children by the parents. I find that intriguing.

That was after I came here. I never even thought about it. I thought it’s always the school that decides what to teach and the school gets the instruction from the party. But now we see it happen here. We see that they don’t want parents to be part of the education. They want to dictate what to be taught, I mean, the left.

Mr. Jekielek: So I remember there was a Harvard professor that actually was commenting on homeschooling as a threat, I don’t know if you remember this, basically because we would lose control of the values that children are taught.

Ms. Van Fleet: Yeah. Again, I refer to the same Marx’s playbook, it’s destruction of the nuclear family. And one of the strongest things in the west is the nuclear family—especially Christianity emphasizes that, the value of a nuclear family, of the values passed down from parents to children. Generation after generation, they are the carrier of the values.

And so they don’t want that to indoctrinate children. You want to remove the parents from the education process. That happened in China. We saw disastrous results during the Cultural Revolution and the left is doing it here.

Mr. Jekielek: Well, so it’s interesting because when I think of Chinese, I actually think of very successful family structure, at least in the Chinese that I know. I almost feel like American, Canadian families at large could learn a lot from the Chinese example.

Ms. Van Fleet: Well, I would say that’s traditional Chinese family values based on Confucianism. And family is absolutely the base of a society. The CCP turned it upside down and said [that] country is the base of family; without country you can’t have family. But anyway, the strongest Chinese traditional value is family.

And during the Cultural Revolution, they did a lot of damage. But again, people still hold on to the nuclear family because that’s where you get your support. That’s where you get the values. I would say they did not manage to totally, totally dismantle the nuclear family, but that’s what they did and that’s what they tried to do.

Mr. Jekielek: So since June when you became more familiar to Americans and I think beyond America as well, how have things gone? I mean, obviously you’ve gotten involved in a lot of actions. How have you seen things change now into October?

Ms. Van Fleet: I think there’s great things happening. I think finally, the parents are waking up. I think it has a lot to do with COVID because parents for the first time in their lives, were able to see what’s going on in the classroom through Zoom. And they were shocked actually.

And the first thing came out of the Zoom meetings from Loudoun, if you remember, that a history teacher was talking to a black student and showing the photo of a black girl and a white girl and asked what he sees, he said, “Two girls.” “No, what do you really see?” “Two girls, they are doing something.” “No, the answer is you should say a black girl and a white girl.” Basically, he wants to really teach people to look for color first.

And so that was reported and went viral, I think. That’s how it started. And then parents started to pay closer attention to what’s going on in the classroom. That’s why they were just outraged. And that’s why the parents went to the school board. Now school board meetings become the battlefield all over the country because parents are now taking action.

Mr. Jekielek: So among the groups and the people that you’ve worked with, do you feel like there is any threat of violence from parents?

Ms. Van Fleet: No, absolutely not. Not even close. I had been to a school board rally many, many times. And I saw also they rally from the other side, it’s all peaceful. And I would say that the parents are angry. They used angry language many times that we can see most of the video went viral, you can check it  out yourself. That’s not violence.

Mr. Jekielek: So, what’s next for you?

Ms. Van Fleet: I just feel like because that school board meeting speech I made, now I was able to reach more people. And I have to say I am doing this because I want to wake people up. What’s happening here in America is nothing new. It happened in China. It happened to me and this is my lived experience. And if we let it go and not stopping it, we have the same result.

The result of the culture revolution as I said earlier is the total destruction of the society. And that’s what waits for us if we don’t stop it. And there was something else I really want to say. When I came to this country, I just feel like the freedom is for me to enjoy is here.

And never in my wildest dream did I think that one day I have to defend this freedom. If I don’t, it may just go away. So I really urge all immigrants who love this country, who experienced communism, speak up. This is our last chance. If we don’t save this country, there’s no place for us to go.

Mr. Jekielek: Xi Van Fleet, it’s such a pleasure to have you on.

Ms. Van Fleet: Thank you so much.

This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

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