By Jonathon Van Maren
One of the strange and unintended effects of the Covid lockdowns was that for the first time many parents were exposed to what educators were teaching their kids. Many were shocked, and the resulting backlash torqued an already-growing parental rights movement rooted in opposition to LGBT indoctrination and Critical Race Theory (CRT).
At first, progressives insisted that parents, if not lying, were simply following for the fevered conspiracy theories of raving right-wing pundits. Then along came activists like Christopher Rufo and Libs of TikTok, releasing a relentless torrent of stomach-turning evidence that teachers were, in fact, actively seeking to shape the minds of the next generation in truly disturbing ways. Many LGBT teachers, video after video showed, were openly recruiting.
In response, the LGBT movement and their Democrat allies have chosen to demonize parents. Politically speaking, it is a bizarre move. The attempt to call Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ parental rights bill the “Don’t Say Gay” law flopped despite near-universal mainstream media buy-in; when pro-gay liberal commentator Bill Maher read the bill, he asked his HBO show panel what the big deal was about: Shouldn’t parents be in the driver’s seat on issues of sexuality?
When even Bill Maher understands why parents are angry, maybe the Democrats should pick a more winning issue.
But getting in between parents and their children are what these activist educators are all about. The latest example of this comes from the New Jersey branch of the National Education Association, the most powerful teachers’ union in America. In response to parents showing up at school board meetings to demand explanations about what their children are being taught, the union is running an advertisement condemning these concerned mothers and fathers as “extremists.”
The 15-second ad switches back and forth between sweet, color photos of smiling students enjoying themselves at school and dark, black-and-white photos of angry parents, many of them shouting. “We all agree that our children deserve a world-class education,” the voiceover says. “When extremists start attacking our schools, that’s not who we are. People who only want to fight to score political points should take that somewhere else.” (As an example, a headline noting that a state legislator wants to emulate Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill pops up.)
The ad met widespread condemnation. Parents are not extremists, and the boys and girls they are defending are their children, not “our” children, as the teachers’ union indelicately put it. “Defaming parents as ‘extremists’ for standing up for their children is right out of Merrick Garland and Randi Weingarten’s playbooks,” Lara Zorc of Building Education for Students Together commented to the Daily Caller. “New Jersey’s parents deserve better than this NJEA slander — standing up for children is not a political point, it is a parent’s responsibility.”
This union tactic, however, is a good example of how progressive activists accuse their opponents of doing precisely what they are doing. Ian Leslie of The Critic recently made this point in an essay titled “We are all ‘culture warriors’.” “Here is a funny thing about Britain’s ‘culture war’: the people who decry it the most are those who are most invested in it. Almost every time you read an article making an accusation of culture war, it’s by someone on the left who is spraying bullets at an enemy.”
Sound familiar? Parents are upset by what their children are being taught and are using the available avenues to make that discontent known. Politicians respond to the public will by passing laws based on feedback and polling. And progressives promptly accuse parents of being political pawns as opposed to the drivers of a backlash to their agenda. The teachers who began the backlash by engaging in indoctrination are, of course, completely innocent.
They’re not, of course. I’ll end with just one example of the sort of thing activists and journalists are publishing almost hourly, from Christopher Rufo: Parents in Florida are suing a public school, alleging that the school staff “transitioned” their 12-year-old daughter without their knowledge. Their daughter then attempted suicide in a school bathroom. These are the stakes.
Wow: Parents have filed a lawsuit alleging that a public school in Florida "transitioned" their 12-year-old daughter while keeping it a secret from them. The daughter then attempted suicide in a school bathroom.
— Christopher F. Rufo ⚔️ (@realchrisrufo) August 19, 2022