Speaking truth to power is now domestic terrorism?
Russell Vought | The attorney general tries to shut down the wave of dissent against school boards
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Our nation witnessed something truly remarkable and new this year. Moms and dads, teachers and students, experts and lay individuals, bravely marched to the microphones at school board meetings across the country and challenged the established orthodoxy of their governing class.
Prepared and passionate, they spoke of what it meant for their communities and proceeded into the full headwinds of our cultural consensus. Each fully recognized that they could lose their job, lose clients, face social ostracism, or be called names—racist, homophobe, fascist—that the internet will never forget. They went anyway. And one by one, everyday men and women began to serve their country by speaking the truth.
Seventy years ago, Whittaker Chambers anticipated how Western civilization could be saved from its complacency and fecklessness. Quite presciently, before the information age and today’s distrust of institutions, he argued that “in periods of change, like this one, it is only those who throw themselves against [the turning wheel of history], in full consciousness of the cost and consequences, who can justify a defiance of its logic, by certifying man’s hope that a greater and better logic is conceivable.”
This is what Tanner Cross, the gym teacher in Virginia, who refused to parrot the transgender lie that a student’s biological sex is fluid, represents. Same with Courtney Ann Taylor, the Georgia mom who complained about the mask mandates on little children at minimal risk of COVID, and the countless parents who objected to the racialization of our education system envisioned by Critical Race Theory. Their defiance through adversity was a way of certifying to a watching world that they were right and that the authorities, with all their experts, were wrong.
But of course, the regime could not allow this defiance to stand. The criticism required a response because it went to the center of gravity of the regime.
On Sept. 29, the National School Boards Association requested that the Biden administration use “Federal law enforcement and other assistance to deal with the growing number of threats of violence and acts of intimidation occurring across the nation.” The letter continues, “These heinous actions could be the equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism.”
So there it is—the charge of domestic terrorism used against parents who dare to protest against the miseducation of their own children. Never mind that there has been no epidemic of violence against school board members. There have been isolated (and unfortunate) instances in which local police have made arrests, but the rest of the so-called harassment and intimidation has merely been the school board members growing discomfort with parental involvement in the political process.
Just a few days later, Attorney General Merrick Garland granted the request, issuing a directive to the FBI and the U.S. attorneys to use their prosecutorial authority to deal with “a disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence.” That was doublespeak used to justify intimidating parents and other common citizens.
The memo conveniently provided no clarity as to what constitutes harassment and intimidation, ensuring that it could be defined in the eye of the investigative beholder. The Garland memo is not simply making a federal case about an issue—it is evidence of a national security apparatus weaponized against the American people’s dissent.
Some rushed to defend the government’s actions. For instance, David French argued that, “If law enforcement investigates and prosecutes the threats, good. If it attempts to prosecute protected speech, it will lose.”
Charitably, this is both untenable and unserious. Concerned citizens who feel compelled to articulate hard truths that the ruling class deems threatening, could face the very real potential of an FBI investigation. Eventually, they could be threatened with mortgaging their house to hire an attorney, invasive discovery allowing investigators access to all their emails and texts, and more. The reality is that the Garland memo is designed to shut down debate and intimidate citizens.
“Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare,” instructs the Prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 29). Christians should recognize the severity of what the Garland memo represents for our country. Our government has no right to intimidate citizens and shut down debate.
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