Fairfax Board Member Rails Against The Dangers Of “Excessive Individualism” In High School Graduation Speech

There has been a great deal of controversy over the graduation address of Fairfax County school board member Abrar Omeish to the Justice High School in Falls Church on June 7th. In her remarks to the graduates, Omeish praised a teacher who made social activism part of her class and warned the graduates that they are going into a world filled with racism and white supremacy. However, what really struck an admittedly libertarian chord with me was the third danger that she warned about: “excessive individualism.”  Like free speech, individualism is now being presented as a danger rather than a strength in our society.

Omeish is a strong speaker who impressively moved between English, Spanish, and Arabic in her address. However, many parents objected in Fairfax (where I live) to the content of the remarks. She labeled those who do not agree with the activism agenda as effectively opposing anti-racism values:  “You understand that social justice is only political for those that can afford to ignore it. You understand that ‘neutral’ is another word for complicit. And you have made a choice to take a stand.” She encourage the students to remain activists and pursue “jihad” because “we struggle with human greed, racism, extreme versions of individualism and capitalism, white supremacy, growing wealth gaps, disease, climate crisis, extreme poverty amidst luxury and waste right next door. And the list goes on.”

As we have previously discussed, “jihad” in Arabic does not mean violent acts despite the common view of the term. It is a reference to good acts or public service. There is no basis to suggest that this speech was encouraging violent action.  Rather, she declared “Every part of your being may scream in rage at the ways others have wronged you,” but “let compassion for your fellow human beings, not anger or rage — and believe me this is hard to do — fuel you.”

What stood out for me was the reference to “extreme versions of individualism.”  There was a time when individualism was viewed as a core protection and value in our society. Now it is often denounced as a harmful value that resists more collective and communal priorities from fighting Covid-19 to racial justice.

For years, academics have lashed out at individualism as a barrier for public policy goals like health care. On study on the “excesses of individualism” concluded, for example, “Libertarian individualism has created political isolation and prevents the evolution of democratic decision making and real partnerships in healthcare.” The case against individualism has been made in books ranging from Robert N. Bellah’s book Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American Life, Amitai Etzioni’s The Spirit of Community. Writers like Nick Romeo insist:

Radical individualism today retains this highly circumscribed conception of government’s role; the body politic – above all – serves to protect the safety and the property of the individual. This is exemplified in a line made popular by the US president Ronald Reagan: the nine most terrifying words in the English language are: ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’ It is a radical philosophy that suggests the political collective should have no role beyond the protection of the individual.

The old view of “rugged individualism” has become reactionary individualism for those arguing for a new collective consciousness.  The move against individualism brings to mind a quote from Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago:

“The main misfortune, the root of all the evil to come, was the loss of confidence in the value of one’s own opinion. People imagined that it was out of date to follow their own moral sense, that they must all sing in chorus, and live by other people’s notions, notions that were being crammed down everybody’s throat.”

Few would argue that there is no value in collective action and policies.  Individualism is not anarchy. The concern is that the attacks on individualism are coinciding with attacks on values like free speech.  There is a movement to force adherence to accepted norms or values — and a corresponding intolerance for opposing views.

That is why the dire warning of Omeish for the young graduates to fear “excessive individualism” was so jarring for those of us who find believe that on certain rights, to paraphrase Oscar Wilde, nothing succeeds like excess.

 

223 thoughts on “Fairfax Board Member Rails Against The Dangers Of “Excessive Individualism” In High School Graduation Speech”

  1. OT – ARKANCIDE ALERT!

    Reporter Who Broke Story on 2016 Clinton/Lynch Tarmac Meeting Dead at 45 of Alleged Suicide

    Christopher Sign, the television anchor who broke the story that former President Bill Clinton secretly met with Loretta Lynch while the then-Attorney General investigated Hillary Clinton’s email scandal, is dead at 45. The meeting took place in 2016 when Hillary was vying with former President Donald Trump for the presidency. The Hoover, Alabama police department said the death is being investigated as an apparent suicide after Sign’s body was discovered in his home early Saturday morning. “We knew something had occurred that was a bit unusual,” Sign told “Fox & Friends” in February 2020 on the eve of the release of the book he wrote, Secret on the Tarmac, about the experience. “It was a planned meeting,” Sign said. “It was not a coincidence.” Sign told Fox his life has not been the same since he broke the story. “My family received significant death threats shortly after breaking this story,” Sign said. “Credit cards hacked.

    “You know, my children, we have code words. We have secret code words that they know what to do.”

  2. I personally disagree with her remarks along with the words and demeanor of every elected Islamic that I have listened to.
    PLEASE remember she along with those in Congress were elected by your friend’s and neighbors. You asked for it you got it.
    Still she and those like her are a powerful argument for every level of government having a Recall provision allowing for the removal of public officials that greatly offend us

  3. Burkhardt thought the concept of the individual was discovered and embraced during the Renaissance and that it was a driving force in the exhilarating intellectual adventures and advances of that time. Certainly people like Cellini and Brunelleschi shine through history as individuals.

    Muslim countries are intellectual deserts. Poor Spain publishes more books each year than the entire Muslim world. They are capable of rasing brilliant individuals like Ayan Hirsi Ali or Razib Khan, but they tend to set aside or openly abandon Islam and become part of Western society.

    Lose the individual and pay a dear price in culture.

    1. “Poor Spain publishes more books each year than the entire Muslim world.”

      Oh look, another false claim from Young. Iran alone publishes more books than Spain.

      1. Could be, Burka Boy. It has been awhile since I saw that report.

        On a darker note, Iran also sponsors more murder and terrorism–more Muslim ‘good deeds’.

      2. In 2020 Iran published about 105,000 books.

        In 2013 Spain published more than 524,000 books.

        Perhaps I wasn’t wrong after all, Burka Boy.

        I still want you to say that Muslim Martyrs who kill strangers are evil.

        I would also like for you to say that Muslim Honor Killings are evil.

        Should be easy to say it. They clearly are evil.

        All lives matter.

    1. That expression does not mean what you wish for it to mean. It is not an endorsement of collectivism, but of its opposite.

      It means: Out of many states (13 Colonies), one Nation. That’s many states unified into one nation by the principle of individual rights. And further unified by the conviction to defend those rights against a tyrannical government.

  4. I watched Dr. Zhivago again a few months ago and it struck me that every American should take another (or first) look at this film, and I wondered if those seeing it again thought, as I originally did, how fortunate I was to have been born in the USA because nothing like what I was watching could ever happen here. that as an American, nothing like that could happen here

    1. Yes, I grew up always wondering, why would anyone vote for communism? I remember distinctly asking my parents, why would people vote to not be free, to not have choice and live in poverty? Then I saw the original, “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” and it terrified me and I began to understand how it happens. It’s weird talking with millennials and trying to describe just how different the country is in as little as 40 years. It’s almost unrecognizable.

  5. Ex basketball player and coach here. Toughest concept to grasp within the team structure is that individual skill is at its best when it figures out how to colloborate within the group stucture. Saw this play out many times in high school, in college and then later coaching.

    A bit of an inaccurate polarization drawn here by Turley. Reminded me of playing on what should’ve been an amazing team that was split down the middle in a personality struggle… Even had someone on that team that later had a shot at the NBA. But instead, we were just streaky, able to beat the best when the mood struck us, totally capable of self destruction against teams we should’ve smoked. Later in college it was about realizing that not everyone could recreate what you did wherever you came from…

    Let’s just take a look at Trump. Someone who had total individual lattitude his whole life (except when taking money from his dad) and someone who never got the hang of how to president without self destructing and never able to see past his own self interest. There’s a reason he will be classified amongst the worst 2 or three presidents in history.

    eb

  6. I didn’t like Abrar Omeish’s speech & fear of “excessive individualism”

    However I did like the ending scene of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Blondie left Tuco tied up with 4 bags gold. I always felt bad for Tuco.

  7. A quick look at her Linked-in page reveals that she is one of the elite — another “oppressed” ivy league Democrat who just loves telling us how bad this country, in which they did splendidly, really is. But Americans are still free to vote, and if they get sick and tired of the brainwashing, they can vote out the demagogues.

  8. The collective has worked so well elsewhere. Remember these guys?

    “You will be assimilated” (The Borg)

  9. There are many understandings of “jihad”, and much depends on the audience and the context. Ms. Omeish knows exactly what’s she’s saying, to whom, and why.
    Here is an excellent monograph on what theo-political leaders most often mean when employing the term. Not shilling for Amazon – just happens to be the most accessible source. https://smile.amazon.com/dp/0271016337/?coliid=I3E9XLA1BG16KI&colid=2AJ2QY3M25Z56&psc=1&ref_=lv_ov_lig_dp_it

    1. He included video of how she actually used “jihad.” Instead of turning to “what theo-political leaders most often mean” (and suggesting that she is among that group), why don’t you discuss what she herself said?

  10. As we have previously discussed, “jihad” in Arabic does not mean violent acts despite the common view of the term. It is a reference to good acts or public service. There is no basis to suggest that this speech was encouraging violent action.>/i>

    The definitions of words is defined by those that oppose the speech. So Jihad offends me, and gives me license to “protest” against the speech. I promise is will be peaceful, as peaceful has been defined for the last year

    1. Jihad is “good acts or public service. “:

      ***
      Unfortunately killing people is too often seen as a public service or good act.

  11. Once again, JT criticizes a phrase, but cannot bring himself to quote the entire sentence so that we can see the phrase in context. The video does not contain this phrase either.

    1. but cannot bring himself to quote the entire sentence so that we can see the phrase in context

      What are blathering about. The full quote is provided in the article.

      But, if it were not, It would put JT in the same league, using the same style book, as the NYT, CNN, etal.
      You are in fact still misquoting almost all of President Trump’s comments by removing context. The Claim that President Trump called Skin heads, “fine people” can still be found in headlines and lead paragraphs today.

      1. “The full quote is provided in the article. ”

        No, it isn’t.

        Learn to pay better attention to details. The sentence he quoted, “we struggle with human greed, racism, extreme versions of individualism and capitalism, white supremacy, growing wealth gaps, disease, climate crisis, extreme poverty amidst luxury and waste right next door. And the list goes on” does not contain the phrase “excessive individualism.”

        If SHE said the phrase “excessive individualism,” which is what JT indicates by putting it in quotation marks, HE should quote the sentence where she said it.

        “You are in fact still misquoting almost all of President Trump’s comments by removing context.”

        Yet you haven’t quoted anything I actually wrote to substantiate your claim.

      2. I don’t take advice from a grown woman who wears a rag on her head because men have demanded that she do so.
        What a pathetic, yellow-bellied female.

        1. I wouldn’t take advice from you, given that you call a hijab a “rag” when it isn’t one.

          “men have demanded that she do so.”

          I’m guessing that she thinks her God asks her to do this, just like people from other religions wear other things for religious reasons. You’ve certainly presented no evidence that she’s choosing to wear a hijab because a man demands it.

          Do you also refuse to take advice from nuns who wear habits? from priests who wear hassocks? from Amish women who wear bonnets? from Sikh men who wear turbans? from Jewish men who wear kippahs? …

          The insult in your last sentence says more about you than her.

          1. Anonymous ……….Good! I hope it says alot about me. I will insult any pitiful coward who judges others, any place, any day, any time!
            So clever of you to pick up on that.

            1. “I will insult any pitiful coward who judges others, any place, any day, any time!”

              You judge others. You supported Trump, who judges others. I doubt that you can name even a single person who never judges others.

              1. You overlooked her “pitiful coward” descriptor. Trump isn’t a pitiful coward. But I suspect Burka Boy Anonymous is.

          2. As someone who is both an atheist, and at least by the standards espoused in the post a “radical individualist” I’m going to have to say yes. I take no advice from anyone who bases it on religion, clothed as such or otherwise. I base my world view on rationalism and reason, not superstition and emotion.

            1. I’m an atheist too, but I don’t refuse to take advice from people who are religious, as some of them are quite thoughtful. It would be irrational to reject advice from someone solely because the person is religious.

              We evolved to have emotions. Some emotions, like love, serve us well.

  12. Good Lord, too many people do not have an understanding of the founding of this nation.

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men…”

    According to the Declaration, the raison d’être of government is to secure and protect the rights of the individual. The collective strangles Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

    1. “individual” and “individualism” are not synonyms.

      Individuals often join together to benefit the group. Government should be an example of joining together with that goal. The latter part of the DoI criticizes the King in light of his “history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. … A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.”

      The DoI ends “for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.” Arguably, that mutual pledge advocates collective action. Your condemnation of the collective is inconsistent with the full text of the DoI.

  13. Third countries, like African and the Middle East, are based upon the concepts of tribalism and collectivism, no individuality allowed. That is why they stagnate in terms of technological and economic progress and political freedom, and are the source of much of the terrorism, violence, disease and poverty in the world. The Islamic religion, which used to be the vanguard to progress, is now a force to turn back the wheels of progress in America. Abrar Omeish and her Muslim culture would prefer that everybody live in a mud hut and read their Koran by the light of a fire. She and her cronies are enemies of freedom.

    1. If you think “Third countries, like African and the Middle East, are based upon the concepts of tribalism and collectivism, no individuality allowed,” you’ve clearly never traveled to a developing country. I’ve been to many, and there isn’t a single one where “no individuality [is] allowed.”

      “Abrar Omeish and her Muslim culture would prefer that everybody live in a mud hut and read their Koran by the light of a fire.”

      How dishonest you are. Do you believe in the Commandment “Thou shalt not lie”?

  14. “we struggle with human greed, racism, extreme versions of individualism and capitalism, white supremacy, growing wealth gaps, disease, climate crisis, extreme poverty amidst luxury and waste right next door. . . ” What is concerning is equating individualism and capitalism with white supremacy and disease. Garbage.

  15. These days I no longer regret advancing into my golden years, because this trend in society is perplexing to my understanding of the freedoms under our constitution. My true regret is for my grand children and what they will face in what I see as a decline values I hold dear.

    1. I have the same thoughts. We hear it is worth fighting for but look at this new generation and tell me, do you really think they value anything let alone fight for it?

      1. Yep, you definitely don’t see young people like David Hogg fighting for gun control or Greta Thunberg fighting for people to address climate change.

    1. agreed.
      A Constitutional solution is to assemble as in the 1st amendment on your state. With; people that will do the work; people that will form a Lawful grand jury and bring a true bill against these evil doers. On Oregon we bring Article I Section 1. We need; people to populate a VII amendment jury of peers to bring forth a verdict that has no appeal in law in Our Article III one supreme Court claiming original jurisdiction. There may be other solutions!! However, this one works; it is we the people in assembly, forming a civilian court of record, implementing Ex Parte Milligan which nullified Lieber Code/martial law.. DOJ, FBI, USMS, USMC, STATE OF OREGON all acquiesced and defaulted. Will you help your state assemble? You have a pulpit. It only takes 45. Americans on a state in a minimum of 21 days.. It took us 2.5 years. Invite all non evil Americans. It only takes 45 people, no persons.. all the best of every good fortune for the good, ronvrooman38@gmail.com

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