In a memorandum this week, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said there has been "a disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff who participate in the vital work of running our nation's public schools."
That accusation – and action by the DOJ – comes just days after a letter to President Joe Biden from the National School Boards Association (NSBA) sought federal assistance to stop what that group describes as "threats and acts of violence" against public school students, board members, and district officials and educators.
"As these acts of malice, violence, and threats against public school officials have increased, the classification of these heinous actions could be the equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes …" the letter states.
"…With such acute threats and actions that are disruptive to our students' well-being, to the safety of public school officials and personnel, and to interstate commerce, we urge the federal government's intervention against individuals or hate groups who are targeting our schools and educators."
Mike Gonzalez of The Heritage Foundation, a think tank headquartered in Washington, DC, says in responding to the NSBA's letter, the DOJ is trying to "chill debate and scare parents – which is really disgusting, by the way, that the government of the people is trying to intimidate their people."
Regardless if a school board agrees with what they're saying, Gonzalez contends parents not only have the right but the responsibility to appear at school board meetings and keep a check on government. "It's really truly outrageous [what the DOJ is doing]. It will not stand. We still have laws in this country," he adds.
"Christians and conservatives must engage in our educational system. Our voices are important and make a difference. If they didn't make a difference, then Attorney General Garland and President Biden wouldn't feel the need to ban, demean, and belittle the legitimate forces that challenge their power – the parents and citizens who speak out." (Meg Kilgannon, Senior Fellow for Education Studies at Family Research Council)
Loudoun County, Virginia, has been a hot spot for controversy during recent school board meetings. Victoria Cobb of The Family Foundation of Virginia tells AFN that "parents don't deserve to be treated like domestic terrorists" – and that family advocates she knows would never condone any violence for any reason at a school board meeting.
"It's not actually that there are overwhelming numbers of threats … but the reality is that there is simply a lot of parent concern that is being voiced at a larger volume than ever before," she explains. "And anything where we would see the attorney general marshal the FBI to try to create a chilling effect and shut down these parents is truly devastating."
Gonzalez makes the argument that the FBI isn't needed. "This is very simple: violence is illegal," he offers. "One cannot attack one's fellow citizens; and if one does, then that person should be prosecuted, have the book thrown at them – and we have local law enforcement that is quite capable of doing that and should be doing that."
Virginia mother and Parents Defending Education member Asra Nomani told the "Fox & Friends" program on Wednesday: "All we have done over the past year is stand up and speak up for children. It's unconscionable that the FBI should spend even a minute thinking about us."
Your freedom to speak – use it or lose it
Conservative activist Gary Bauer is urging patriotic Americans to get out of their comfort zones and not cower in fear at the prospect of being labeled a domestic terrorist by Joe Biden's Justice Department. Bauer, executive director of Campaign for Working Families, was a recent guest on American Family Radio.
"Imagine at the next PTA fundraiser … is there going to be an undercover FBI agent trying to entrap you?" he wondered.
"When you go to the school board meeting and you're sitting there shaking your head at these bureaucrats telling you [they get to decide] what's going on at the school … and you're angry about that – [do] you have to worry that the person sitting next to you may be calling the FBI terror watch line to report you?"
Bauer says freedom-loving Americans need to get out of their comfort zones. "This means you have to go to the school board meeting – [and] this means when you get there, you have to speak up," he stated. "If we react the way they intend us to react, which is to cower in fear, we are on our way to losing our country."
Americans have the right of free speech, free assembly, and to petition their government – and Bauer emphasized that no one has the power to take that away … not Merrick Garland, not Kamala Harris, and not Joe Biden.
Editor's note: Comments from Gary Bauer were added after story was originally published.