AMAC Exclusive – by David P. Deavel
Well, that escalated quickly. Parents around the country have been fighting back against public school decisions to teach children critical race and gender theories, as well as impose irrational and unscientific Covid protocols on the least of these. The Ruling Class told the parents to drop dead, and the Department of Justice, increasingly resembling the Star Wars Deathstar, has now offered its services to squash the proverbial rebels. It’s a move that further divides the country and gives another indication of how corrupt and how totalitarian that Ruling Class has become. Whether this evil tends toward any good depends on whether the rebels, those ordinary Americans, fight back in the ways they need to.
Five days after last week’s letter from the National School Board Association (NSBA) asking President Biden to use federal power, up to and including the provisions of the Patriot Act, to investigate parents who were either threatening or, it was implied, criticizing school boards, Attorney General Merrick Garland served up a one-page memorandum indicating he will be having the feds work with all local police officers to squelch this new scourge of supposed soccer mom terrorism. Truly a shame this guy isn’t on the Supreme Court, right?
The decision of the DOJ to do anything on this matter is patently ridiculous for several reasons. First, there is no crisis (for schools) of school board-related violence. The NSBA’s letter only indicated a couple incidents where physical altercations happened and a couple of actual threats. The rest of the incidents involved mockery and claims that Critical Race Theory is being taught—claims that the NSBA terms “misinformation” on the basis of the absurd notion that CRT is only taught in graduate and law schools.
Second, we do have a different crisis in the U. S. well-suited to the attention of federal law enforcement. It is absurd that the FBI and other federal agencies should be spending their time on investigation of parents when the homicide rate increased by 30% in 2020, the highest one-year increase ever, and is predicted to be even higher this year. There is absolutely no reason that the practice of local law enforcement officials investigating local threats should be changed when the FBI has actual murders to deal with. Hey, Attorney General Garland! Have you even solved the mystery of those bombs planted at the Republican and Democratic headquarters on January 5 yet?
Third, if threatening behavior warrants a nationwide move on the part of the DOJ, how about investigating the activists confronting Senator Manchin on his boat and Senator Sinema in the restroom? How about a detailed investigation into the myriad violent protests of 2020? Such behavior is just as threatening as “a person yelling a Nazi salute in response to mask requirements” in a public meeting, as the NSBA letter details.
Fourth, Merrick Garland has a conflict of interest. As many outlets have reported, Garland’s son-in-law is the president and founder of Panorama Education, which provides the surveys and questionnaires for schools about “campus climate” to which many parents object. Those surveys include questions for pre-teens designed to make them think along racial lines and, at age twelve, answer whether they are pansexual or gender-fluid. Parents who object to such surveys being given to fifth- and sixth-graders are cutting into the business interests of the Attorney General’s family.
Indeed, put all these factors together and you see how corrupt our officials are. You also see how much they want to divide the country. One of Garland’s promises in his memorandum is that the DOJ “will open dedicated lines of communication for threat reporting, assessment, and response.”
In other words, “Comrade, be careful of what you say in the meeting, the line to rat out those expressing counterrevolutionary ideas is said to go straight to Commissar Garland.” That’s a joke, but the reality is no laughing matter, for such “dedicated lines” for one citizen to snitch on another are utterly destructive to America’s common life, as is the turning of local issues into federal ones is a violation of American norms.
Remember how the violation of norms—such as mean tweets!—was a sure sign of the supposed tyranny of the Trump Administration? But these norms, unlike the Presidential posting of memes the Left either misunderstood or disliked, are actually important. Our federal system involves a delicate balance between local, state, and national authority. Merrick Garland, as one observer has noted, makes no “citation to a statute or other basis for federal jurisdiction that could support an indictment in one of these cases.” It’s not even clear how Garland would legally pursue any of these cases. But making whether parents approve of curricular or masking decisions down at P.S. 182 an issue that brings on the attention of, and the lurking threat of prosecution by, national law enforcement is not merely a preposterous misuse of federal resources; it is a sign of creeping totalitarianism.
The message is: your children don’t belong to you. Nor do you have a say in matters of your local schools. The State will determine these things.
It may be that Merrick Garland has a financial conflict of interest partially motivating him. But is there more to it? America First Legal (AFL) sent a letter to Inspector General Michael Horowitz asking for an investigation of the Garland memorandum and the provenance of the NSBA letter because they appear to involve a conspiracy to deprive parents of “constitutionally-protected rights and privileges, for inappropriate partisan purposes.” The evidence they have collected suggests that the NSBA letter was likely a coordinated action that either began or was aided by those at the highest levels of the government.
The “inappropriate partisan reasons” are perhaps the bright spot in this mess. The Biden Administration, AFL contends, was motivated by the fact that the disastrous turn in education is bad news for Democrats. “Stakeholders also held discussions with senior department officials,” AFL reports, “including at least one political appointee in the department’s Civil Rights Division (Jane Doe #2). Jane Doe #1, John Doe #1, and others in the White House separately expressed concern regarding the potential partisan political impact of parent mobilization and organization around school issues in the upcoming midterm elections.”
While Democrats have tried to convince themselves that opposition to CRT, gender theory, and the rest is simply the reaction of some racist rubes, the reality is that it is much broader. And the proof is starting to pour in, most importantly in the Virginia gubernatorial campaign where Democrat Terry McAuliffe, who famously said, “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach,” has found his lead over Republican Glenn Youngkin now reduced to within the margin of error. When questioned by local reporters on October 7 about one of the issues that is causing his drop in the polls, he suggested that those upset by Critical Racist Theory are “racist” because it is not taught in Virginia. When asked for a definition of CRT, the voluble McAuliffe could not and would not define it.
The Empire has struck back because the Rebel parents are winning too often. Not only is Terry McAuliffe sinking, but the many fights against school boards are going swimmingly. In Loudoun County, Virginia, one of the epicenters of these disputes about educational policy, a judge ruled that a far-left prosecutor who was attempting to stop the recall effort against Loudoun School Board member Beth Barts, who was engaging in her own FBI-less intimidation of parents, should be taken off the case and a special prosecutor assigned instead.
Despite the passivity of too many national-level Republican politicians on this matter (with such notable exceptions as Senators Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz, and Rand Paul), state-level leadership is rising up in a variety of places to the challenge of this egregious disturbance in the Force of Federalism. Unsurprisingly, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, continuing his courageous course of actions, tweeted in response to Garland’s memo: “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 pledged not only to make sure any harassment or threats to local officials were dealt with locally, but he affirmed that he would not allow parents’ First Amendment rights or their rights as parents to be infringed. In fact, in July he signed the Florida Parents’ Bill of Rights that says, in Section 1014.03: “The state, any of its political subdivisions, any other governmental entity, or any other institution may not infringe on the fundamental rights of a parent to direct the upbringing, education, health care, and mental health of his or her minor child without demonstrating that such action is reasonable and necessary to achieve a compelling state interest and that such action is narrowly tailored and is not otherwise served by a less restrictive means.”
Instead of dividing the country, aiming their weapons at ordinary parents, and slouching toward totalitarianism, Democrats need to look in the mirror and see that they are the ones wearing the Darth Vader costume. Parents don’t believe it when school board members or Merrick Garland tell their kids, in essence, “I am your father.” And they certainly aren’t going to stand by when they hear the Star Wars villain’s other well-known lines: “I have altered the deal. Pray I do not alter it any further.”
David P. Deavel is editor of Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture, co-director of the Terrence J. Murphy Institute for Catholic Thought, Law, and Public Policy, and a visiting professor at the University of St. Thomas (MN). He is the co-host of the Deep Down Things podcast.
We hope you've enjoyed this article. While you're here, we have a small favor to ask...
As we prepare for what promises to be a pivotal year for America, we're asking you to consider a gift to help fund our journalism and advocacy.
The need for fact-based reporting that offers real solutions and stops the spread of misinformation has never been greater. Now more than ever, journalism and our first amendment rights are under fire. That's why AMAC is passionately working to increase the number of real news articles we deliver WEEKLY, while continuing to strengthen our presence on Capitol Hill.
AMAC Action, a 501 (C)(4), advocates to protect American values, free speech, the exercise of religion, equality of opportunity, sanctity of life, the rule of law, and love of family.
Thank you for putting your faith in AMAC!Donate Now