by Ryan King
A survivor of the Chinese Cultural Revolution is sounding the alarm about critical race theory and other efforts to rewrite United States history.
Xi Van Fleet, who fled China and moved to the U.S. at age 26, warned that narratives suggesting that racism means the U.S. offers no hope for nonwhite people is historically wrong, threatens the foundations of the country, and reminiscent of the communist takeover of China.
“I know very, very well what happened during the Cultural Revolution. … They rewrote history, and then they fed us, the young people, the fictional history, for the indoctrination for control [of] mind. She’s doing exactly the same thing,” Van Fleet told the Washington Examiner.
Van Fleet gained new attention when she sparred with 1619 Project creator Nikole Hannah-Jones on Twitter, who claimed the mere presence of black people in the U.S. is the “greatest rebuke to the narrative of American exceptionalism.”
“Someone asked me why is Black history, specifically, being targeted. I said it’s because our history has always been political *by definition*: Our very presence on these lands is the greatest rebuke to the narrative of American exceptionalism. We give lie to the lie,” Hannah-Jones tweeted in a three-part thread Sunday.
Hannah-Jones is famous for a series of essays in the 1619 project that suggests the foundation of the U.S. by British colonists was intended to safeguard slavery.
Van Fleet sharply rejected Hannah-Jones’s assertion about the presence of black people rebuking the narrative of American exceptionalism, contending that the presence of immigrants is “proof of American Exceptionalism” rather than a refutation.
“Yourself and I, an immigrant from China with 200 borrowed dollars in my pocket when I arrived more than 30 yrs ago, are the proof of American Exceptionalism,” she rebutted in a tweet.
Yourself and I, an immigrant from China with 200 borrowed dollars in my pocket when I arrived more than 30 yrs ago, are the proof of American Exceptionalism.
— Xi Van Fleet (@XVanFleet) February 26, 2023
Van Fleet insists it was important to stand up in defense of the U.S. to avert a fate similar to China. She contends that the U.S. “guarantee of natural rights” has been paramount to its exceptionalism and success, something she contrasted with Maoist China.
“In Mao’s China where I grew up … you can only do things you’re told to do. You can only think the way you’re allowed to think. Everything is controlled. There’s no individual freedom. It is all collectively under one party control. So there’s no individual success,” she told the Washington Examiner.
While she believes the public should acknowledge the “good and bad and ugly” of U.S. history, Van Fleet argued that it’s important not to stray from the principles that made the country exceptional.
Van Fleet is a fellow at 1776 Action, a group that fights for parental rights in the classroom and opposes what it describes as indoctrination. She has been an outspoken opponent of critical race theory, which she describes as a form of cultural Marxism that divides people by race and identity.
“The problem today is that the people haven’t been taught real history. People haven’t been taught what communism is all about. That’s why when communism showed up at our front door in a different kind of a disguise, people have no clue what it is,” she said.
To Van Fleet, Hannah Jones makes the mistake of focusing too much on race and promulgating a narrative of perpetual despair for minorities.
“She looks at everything through the lens of CRT [and] race — everything,” Van Fleet said. “[Her] message is that you have no hope in this country. This country is always going to oppress you — which is absolutely false.”
“We have so many examples right in front of our eyes that people have succeeded,” she added.