Concerned Parents Aren’t ‘Domestic Terrorists,’ Except When They Behave Like One
Indeed, disruptions of orderly government operations certainly have been more than a merely academic question since the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.
Yet Attorney General Merrick Garland had to face unhappy Republicans at a House committee hearing Thursday regarding his Oct. 4 directive. It ordered the FBI to help local leaders address what he called “a disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation and threat of violence” against teachers and staffs over hot-button issues.
But, as much as Garland viewed the rising threats with alarm, the Grand Old Party’s members of Congress and other conservatives expressed even more alarm about Garland.
Conservative media razzed him for treating parents like “domestic terrorists.” Rep. Jim Jordan, a prominent Ohio Republican, lambasted Garland’s offer of “dedicated lines of communication” for reporting threats as a “snitch line.” That made me wonder whose side Jordan was on: law and order or outlaws and disorder?
“Now the FBI is trying to silence parents,” says a campaign ad for Glenn Youngkin, GOP nominee for Virginia governor in a tight race against Democratic former Gov. Terry McAuliffe. “That’s wrong.”
So is the rap against Garland, in my view. But, alas, that’s politics — and that’s too bad.
Politics explains why mask mandates and the right’s current fixation, “critical race theory,” appear to be the biggest issues driving the protests. Fortunately, vaccination rates and mask wearing rates have grown as people become better informed. CRT is another matter.
Public schools don’t even teach the real CRT, which is a controversial university-level study of systemic racism and its impacts. But the CRT label has been repurposed by some in this political moment to muzzle any classroom discussion of race that, as one protesting parent put it, might “make white students feel badly about being white.”
We Americans could talk intelligently about those fears, beginning with the question of what critical race theory really isn’t. Instead, a half-dozen states already have passed anti-CRT bills and a long list of others are considering them. The result is more confusion about what can be safely taught or discussed in class. The only losers, in my humble opinion, are the students.
At a time when schools should be teaching in an age-appropriate way about our country’s complex racial history, too many people are afraid to go near it. Which is just what some people want, if it gets them more votes — just like the old days.
(E-mail Clarence Page at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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