Are Parents a National Security Threat?

In case you’ve not heard, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) has mobilized against a new and unprecedented “threat” of “criminal conduct” facing the nation. So grave is this menace that the FBI has marshaled the National Threat Operations Center (NTOC), the DOJ’s Criminal Division, National Security Division, Civil Rights Division, the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys, the FBI, the Community Relations Service, and the Office of Justice Programs.

What’s provoked such a massive federal response? Is it the mass infiltration of our southern borders, Cartel criminal enterprises, child-sex traffickers, Antifa-inspired riots in our inner cities, or the biggest jump in American homicide rates in 60 years?

Sorry, but none of these actual woes are considered sufficiently serious for such sweeping federal action. It’s taken something far more ominous: parents of school-aged children. Specifically, the DOJ is worried about vocal parents at school board meetings upset over critical race theory (CRT) indoctrination being imposed on their kids in public schools.

It’s true. All this was outlined in a release from the DOJ’s Office of Public Affairs and a memorandum from Attorney General Merrick Garland. Supposedly, the DOJ’s action was prompted by a letter addressed five days earlier to President Biden from the National School Boards Association (NSBA), citing what it claimed were “acts of violence against interstate commerce” by angry parents.

Such “heinous actions,” said the NSBA, “could be the equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism,” which required a coordinated federal response. The NSBA also urged assistance from the “U.S. Department of Homeland Security,” the “U.S. Secret Service” and the “U.S. Postal Service to intervene against threatening letters and cyberbullying attacks...” Finally, it urged that federal law enforcement mount PATRIOT ACT investigations against these ostensible parent terrorists.

By way of reminder, Congress enacted the PATRIOT ACT after 9/11 to stop future “foreign” terrorist attacks from happening on American soil. It defines terrorism as “unlawful acts of violence or acts dangerous to human life intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population or to affect the conduct of government by ‘mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping.’”

Does the shoe fit? The NSBA letter cited nothing even close to actual incidents of “domestic terrorism,” let alone conduct warranting investigations under the PATRIOT ACT. What it did describe were examples of trespass, disorderly conduct, and some angry emails. Notwithstanding, the Biden Administration and its compliant DOJ went all in. In less than five days from receipt of the NSBA’s letter, the DOJ had analyzed, crafted, and issued its response acceding to all the NSBA’s requests.

If this seems fishy, it probably is. Indeed, it appears that the DOJ was just waiting for the right cause célèbre to launch an already prepared legal broadside against parents.

Did the NSBA letter serve as the planned pretext? That’s the charge Attorney Reed Rubenstein of America’s First Legal Foundation (“AFL”) made in a letter to Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz asking for a formal investigation into the matter.

According to Rubenstein, in early September, “Biden Administration stakeholders held discussions regarding avenues for potential federal action against parents with a key Biden Domestic Policy Council official (Jane Doe #1) and White House staff (John Doe #1).” “Stakeholders also held discussions with senior department officials... 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.” Furthermore, alleges Rubenstein, “Biden Administration officials developed a plan to use a letter from an outside group (“not the usual suspects”) as pretext for federal action to chill, deter, and discourage parents from exercising their constitutional rights and privileges.” There’s more, and readers are encouraged to read Mr. Rubinstein’s letter in its entirety.

Where this goes is anyone’s guess, but the DOJ is already backtracking due to the backlash against what is rightly viewed as a federal government effort to “chill” the First Amendment protections of “freedom of speech...the freedom of assembly, or the right to petition the government for redress of grievances.” Attorney General Merrick Garland did not help himself when he appeared to concede during questions from the House Judiciary Committee that there likely was communication between the DOJ and White House on the NSBA letter before the DOJ mobilized. “I am sure that the communication from the National Association of School Boards was discussed between the White House and the Justice Department and that’s perfectly appropriate.” Such “communication“ is further evidenced in a string of emails between the Biden Administration and the NSBA obtained by Parents Defending Education.

The outrage over these revelations has been such that the NSBA issued a public mea culpa, flatly declaring, “we regret and apologize for the letter.” We cannot know if this comes out of genuine regret for their hysterical overreach or if it is a calculated, if not cynical, effort to mollify a now awakened and indignant public. One can only hope that the DOJ will similarly reverse course and issue its own retraction. So far...crickets.

Harry Truman famously warned, “Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear.” That the Biden administration is eager to bring the weight of the federal government upon parents resisting the cult of woke-ism sweeping our nation’s schools is an ill omen.

It should not surprise us that the people most vocal about the precarious state of American liberty have been escapees of repressed societies. From Yuri Bezmenov and Natan Sharansky to Maximo Alvarez and Yeonmi Park, they’ve been sounding the alarm for decades. Add to this list Xi Van Fleet, a mother and survivor of Mao’s Cultural Revolution who warned the school board in Loudoun County, Virginia, of the divisive similarities between critical race theory Mao’s thought police.

Soviet dissident and Nobel Prize winner Alexander Solzhenitsyn lamented similarly over America’s decline. Forty-three years ago, in an address given at Harvard, he warned: “A decline in courage may be the most striking feature that an outside observer notices in the West today. The Western world has lost its civic courage…

As with most prophets, Solzhenitsyn was mostly ignored. Yet if there’s still hope for America today it is coming precisely from the very kinds of people the Biden Administration seems most ready to silence, parents acting upon the God-given instinct to protect the lives entrusted to them from the predations of those who mean them harm.

Mark R. Schneider is a California-based lawyer who writes about the intersection of law and theology. He founded and is President of Protect Our Kids, a 501.c.3 whose mission is to educate parents and concerned citizens about the indoctrination of children in the public education system.

Image: Parents at a Loudoun County school board meeting. YouTube screen grab.

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