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smith and klar

Former Republican candidate for governor, John Klar, left, and author K. Carl Smith spoke in Bennington on Thursday about their views on critical race theory and what they see as a historic struggle against the ideas of the political left.

BENNINGTON — Author K. Carl Smith was in Bennington this week to offer a ranging denouncement of critical race theory, calling the viewpoint a threat to the educational system and linking it to a broad “Marxist, communist” and anti-religious conspiracy that he believes is threatening the nation.

Appearing here Tuesday with former Republican gubernatorial candidate John Klar, founder of the Vermont Liberty Network, Smith also outlined his strategy for countering CRT and other theories of the political left. He advocates focusing on the Civil War-era Black orator and writer Frederick Douglass.

Smith, who also is African American, is the author of “Frederick Douglass Republicans: The Movement to Re-Ignite America’s Passion for Liberty,” which he said offers a blueprint for how conservatives can successfully debate and defeat those on the left.

Americans are engulfed, he said, in a historic struggle for the future of the county.

“We are in a fight for our nation,” he said, “and the other side is playing for keeps.”


Smith said the view that racism is historically and currently systemic in the U.S., which should be acknowledged as such, is being pushed on students in schools, which is why he believes “the future of our children is at stake.”

Explainer: What is critical race theory?

Smith asserted that the arguments of conservatives are often discounted today because they are being “pre-labeled” as racist, but that allegation fails when Douglass is cited. He argued that the Douglass’ words and his experiences stress self-reliance, which he asserts are akin to the messages of conservatives today.

“The Marxists have no answer for Frederick Douglass,” Smith declared, “so this is why we should leverage him.”

Conservatives “will win this with messaging,” Smith said, later adding that they are being outmaneuvered politically because they “have a brand problem.”

A member of the audience said he agreed with the speakers, but said conservatives also have to run for local school boards if they want to influence the curriculum.

Klar and former Republican state Senate candidate Michael Hall of Manchester likewise stressed Tuesday a need for monetary contributions to fund such events and to support candidates who would bring conservative voices to the Legislature. Hall is the former police chief on Manchester.


Douglass, who was born into slavery before the Civil War but went on to serve as an advisor to American presidents, beginning with Abraham Lincoln, held views similar to those of modern conservatives, Smith told an audience of about 60.

He said that, while acting as an advisor to the re-election campaign of former President Donald Trump, he suggested to Trump that the Frederick Douglass strategy be employed by the campaign, saying that might have changed the outcome of the election.

In his book, Smith said he offers examples of how conservatives can successfully argue against the views he sees dominating the political left and having taken control of the Democratic Party. Copies of Smith’s book were sold following the talk.

In the book, and on his website, Smith said he offers examples of how conservatives can successfully engage the political left.

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Among other assertions, Smith said the political signs today point to an attack from within by led by communists or Marxists, who would first teach their doctrine to the youth of America, then take over the policy aims of a major political party. He insinuated both those trends are in progress today, naming the Democrats as the major party in question.


In Smith’s view, the political left is pushing critical race theory in schools and have “captured” the Democratic Party, which he said has changed drastically since the days of John F. Kennedy.

Klar, whose Vermont Liberty Network sponsored the talk and has scheduled another for Saturday evening in Manchester, also stressed what he sees as the importance of raising money for like-minded candidates to run for office.

At one point, he said critical race theory was “concocted in progressive laboratories of academia” in the 1970s. He asserted that it came from “the same academic circles” that “brought us the eugenics and lobotomy movements” in the early 20th century and echo Nazi ideology.

“These ideas all come from the same place,” Klar declared.

CRT “attributes all outcomes to racism and discrimination,” he said, but those theories stem from flawed scientific data and lack statistics to back up the claims.

One flawed assertion, Klar believes, is that racism, rather than an attempt to deal with an influx of addicting drugs into Vermont, is behind high numbers of minority drivers being stopped by police.

The cities that are the source of most of the drugs have a “demographic that is much more black and Hispanic than this one,” he said, adding that drawing such conclusions about racism “is based on politics.”


The national debate about race should not be about color but about values, Smith said, adding, “We have got to become better at messages of liberty.”

The strategies in his book for countering arguments from the left, Smith said, can help “defeat CRT and the other threats to our nation.”

All CRT is, he said, drawing a round of applause, “is a communist, Marxist agenda to destroy our nation from the inside.”

The conspiratorial efforts at work involve controlling the schools, and controlling national policy and the media, he said, adding, “We’re in this fight, and I think we are going to win.”

His ongoing work, Smith said, “is a message God has given me to use.”

The “bottom line,” he said, “is that this is spiritual issue, and Satan will not win.”

The two speakers also at times derided as attacks on personal freedoms efforts to require face masks or COVID-19 vaccinations to combat the pandemic, positions which drew expressions of support from audience members.

Klar and Smith previously appeared together for at similar event in Mendon during Klar’s 2020 race for governor — at that time “for a conversation about race, the Constitution, and the tension between the slogans ‘Black Lives Matter’ and ‘All Lives Matter.’”

Jim Therrien writes for Vermont News and Media, including the Bennington Banner, Manchester Journal and Brattleboro Reformer. Email


Jim Therrien reports for the three Vermont News and Media newspapers in Southern Vermont. He previously worked as a reporter and editor at the Berkshire Eagle, the Bennington Banner, the Springfield Republican, and the former North Adams Transcript.


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