News and Analysis

Jim Acosta: Virginia Is ‘A Soviet-Style Police State’ Under Gov. Youngkin
WASHINGTON, D C , UNITED STATES - 2019/06/18: Jim Acosta holds his book "The Enemy of the People: A Dangerous Time to Tell the Truth in America" at the Politics and Prose bookstore in Washington, DC.
Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

On Tuesday night, CNN’s Jim Acosta said that Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin has turned his state into “a Soviet-style police state” by ending the teaching of Critical Race Theory.

Acosta told his guest, Molly Jong-Fast of The Atlantic, “I seem to remember Glenn Youngkin campaigning, in a fleece vest in Virginia. He was running as a different kind of Republican. I was told there was going to be a vest, not a Soviet-style police state across the Potomac from Washington.”

The state’s newly imposed Critical Race Theory (CRT) ban shows how “the culture wars are also contributing to the erosion of democracy,” said Acosta during the special “Democracy In Peril,” which aired at 7 p.m. “The new culture wars are impacting our laws. And some experts fear, they could be weakening our democracy, just as badly as the Big Lie,” the Nazi-era slogan that CNN applies to questioning the 2020 presidential election.

Acosta accused Youngkin of “pitting citizen against citizen” immediately after playing a clip of the governor promising to remove “inherently divisive teaching practices out of the schools.” Acosta seemed outraged by removing the racially polarizing CRT curriculum from taxpayer-funded schools — the chief campaign promise made by Youngkin and Lieutenant Governor Winsome Sears — which Acosta said violates “the traditional conservative tenets of liberty, anti-censorship and freedom.”

Acosta also slammed Youngkin for setting up a process for parents to complain if public school teachers violate the law by teaching racially divisive concepts, such as claiming all members of one race inherently oppress all members of other races. Acosta likened the measure to the Texas Heartbeat law, a pro-life protection that allows citizens to sue abortionists who perform an abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, usually around the sixth week of pregnancy. “How concerned should we be, about these laws that seem to be catching on of, citizens ratting each other out?” he asked Jong-Fast, adding they encourage “canceling your neighbor across the street or next door.”

A search of CNN transcripts did not uncover a single instance in which Acosta condemned Democrats who encouraged citizens to report their neighbors for violating COVID-19 lockdown orders. “You know the old expression about snitches. Well, in this case, snitches get rewards,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti (D) in March 2020. “We want to thank you for turning folks in and making sure we are all safe.” (Emphases added.) Such measures were often imposed by gubernatorial or mayoral executive decrees, without any voter input.

Acosta’s comments about the Old Dominion brought swift backlash. “I’m a Virginia resident and am a daughter of folks who *actually* lived under a Soviet police state. I can assure you @GovernorVA isn’t Stalin or remotely Sovietesque,” wrote conservative author Gabriella Hoffman on Twitter. “Shame on you, @Acosta. Don’t invoke Soviet horrors that hurt many of our families.” She went on to call Jim Acosta’s comparison “evil.”

Another Twitter user remarked facetiously, “The freedom to make individual choices was a hallmark of the Soviet-style police state.” Others said the over-the-top hyperbole seemed in line with the legacy media’s standards. “This coming [from] the Pravda network,” said one response. “We just laugh at him, just like” The Washington Post “conservative” columnist Jennifer Rubin, wrote another.

For her part, Jong-Fast agreed with Acosta’s sentiments that Youngkin “pretended to be this kind of non-Trumpy Trump. And then, as soon as he got in there, he started taking away masking in Virginia public schools. He started with these teacher hotlines, where you can rat out your teacher.”

“I mean, he’s really gone full Ron DeSantis, right away,” she stated.

She forecast that, in the future, “Blue states and Red states are going to be very, very different, because these Red states have no incentive to stop being Trumpy. They’re just going to race and become Trumpier and Trumpier.”

She also claimed the Supreme Court had declared the ends justify the means in allowing the Texas Heartbeat law to stand, asserting that the justices ruled, “If we agree with the principle of the law, we don’t care how crazy it is.”

Some believe the media seek to take out Youngkin and DeSantis, Republican governors of swing states, before their policies could reap electoral benefits. “Virginia, like Florida, is a threat to the narrative, especially when it comes to kids,” said one Twitter user. “History will not be kind to the COVIDians.”

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