A coalition of about 20 grassroots concerned-parents groups representing 400,000-plus members is emphatic that it won’t be silenced, bullied, or smeared by the Biden administration or the Democrats’ allied special interest groups.
A huge controversy has followed the release of a memorandum by U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland that the FBI would take steps to address the alleged increase in harassment or intimidation, and even threats of violence, against school board members and others in the education sector.
Garland’s announcement was prompted by a complaint from the National School Boards Association to President Biden that federal government agencies — including Homeland Security and the Secret Service in addition to the FBI — get involved.
Actual violence or alleged threats purportedly associated with this pushback “could be the equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes,” the NSBA warned in its six-page letter to Biden.
According to an Associated Press fact-check, “The organization…is not asking Biden to label parents who protest at school board meetings as terrorists…Biden has yet to publicly comment on the issue, and there’s no indication he or the Department of Justice has called protesting parents ‘domestic terrorists,’ despite false claims to that effect by social media users.”
The parent organizations posted a preemptive and strongly-worded open letter to the NSBA about the error of conflating legitimate protests with purported violence that should serve as a teachable moment, to use one of the liberals’ favorite terms, for everyone.
NSBA cites a tiny number of minor incidents in order to insinuate that parents who are criticizing and protesting the decisions of school boards are engaging in, or may be engaging in, “domestic terrorism and hate crimes.” NSBA even invokes the PATRIOT Act. The association of legitimate protest with terrorism and violence reveals both your contempt for parents and your unwillingness to understand and hear the sincere cries of parents on behalf of their children. To equate parents with terrorists dishonors the thousands of victims of actual terrorism around the world. Have you no shame?
Your letter to President Biden is a thinly veiled threat, intended to intimidate into silence and submission the very constituents that your members ostensibly represent.
Our organizations unequivocally oppose violence and find it deeply troubling that you imply otherwise about concerned citizens who care deeply about their community’s children – and who are concerned by the direction that America’s schools have taken.
Parents Defending Education and the allied organizations then explained why moms and dads across the country have found it necessary to show up at public meetings held by often-stubborn and not forthcoming local school boards.
They claim that many of these dogmatic boards seem obsessed with identity politics rather than making sure kids learn basic and needed skills such as reading, writing, and mathematics.
Citizens are angry that school boards and school officials around the country are restricting access to public meetings, limiting public comment, and in some cases conducting business via text messages in violation of state open meetings laws. They are angry that schools are charging them thousands of dollars in public records requests to view curriculum and training materials that impact their children and that should be open to the public by default. They are angry that pandemic-related learning losses have compounded the already-low reading, writing, and math proficiency rates in America’s schools.
They are angry that rather than focusing on declining student achievement, large numbers of districts have chosen to fund, often with hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer money, “social justice” and “diversity, equity, and inclusion” programs with finite resources.
Your members refuse to listen to these concerns – and your association has chosen to smear their constituents rather than engage with them in good faith. It is appalling that you would choose to threaten your fellow Americans for having the courage to hold you accountable for your failures. We will not be bullied. We will not have our speech chilled. We have a constitutional right to petition our elected officials, and we will continue to do so.
The letter ends on a more conciliatory note that proposes constructive, respectful engagement between the NSBA and parents with the goal of improving public education for the nation’s children.
In a plot twist, Fox News host Tucker Carlson has reported that Garland’s son-in-law allegedly co-founded a company that sells materials on critical race theory to school districts, which could constitute a conflict of interest under the Justice Department’s own ethics rules.
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) October 7, 2021
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is one of many GOP officials that has lambasted Garland’s gambit.
“Attorney General Garland is weaponizing the DOJ by using the FBI to pursue concerned parents and silence them through intimidation. Florida will defend the free speech rights of its citizens and will not allow federal agents to squelch dissent,” DeSantis wrote on Twitter.
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) October 6, 2021
Cornell Univ. law professor William A, Jacobson, a prominent CRT foe, suggests that the federal attempt to squelch parents’ free-speech rights is essentially a movie sequel.
“We have seen this movie before. It’s the ‘eliminationist narrative’ used against the Tea Party and Trump supporters. We covered the Tea Party false accusations at the time, where the media blamed every act of violence on Tea Party supporters even though such claims never had evidence and turned out to be false…
“Nothing has changed, other than the names and faces. The media still plays the role of creating false narratives that ordinary law-abiding Americans who oppose liberals are dangerous and prone to violence.”
Responding to the above-referenced AP fact-check, DeSantis press secretary Christina Pushaw quipped on social media that “Fun fact: ‘AP” stands for ‘Activist Progressives.'”
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