‘Moms’ Radical Attack on Public Education

Photo via Moms For Liberty - Facebook

Moms for Liberty (M4L) is scrambling to find a location for its Republican presidential debate “town hall” in Milwaukee. The Italian Community Center backed out after it discovered Moms for Liberty’s radicalism. M4L masquerades as a “parents’ rights” advocate but it’s really an agent for the radical right’s attack on public education. It has been designated an anti-government extremist group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), condemned by the Human Rights Campaign for anti-LGBTQ hatred, and singled out by PENAmerica for leading the book ban movement.

The SPLC says that “Moms for Liberty members across the nation have been making waves for intimidating and harassing teachers and school officials.”  An M4L member who flies the QAnon flag was appointed to the Florida Board of Education. A  report from NBC News linked M4L to violence involving the Proud Boys at school board meetings in California. Bridget Ziegler, a co-founder of M4L (she left but remains involved) posed with Proud Boys who helped her and another M4L candidate in their 2022 campaigns for Sarasota County School Board. Her husband Christian Ziegler is chairman of the Florida Republican Party.

A week before M4L’s national summit an Indiana chapter leader quoted Hitler in a newsletter. Christian Ziegler counseled  M4L  to never apologize for such outrages. Co-founder Tiffany Justice told summit participants “One of our moms in a newsletter quotes Hitler. I stand with that mom.” The recruits cheered.

The Human Rights Campaign issued its first ever “national state of emergency for LGBTQ+ people in the United States.” It singled out M4L for testifying in favor of “hateful and discriminatory anti-LGBTQ bills.”  The MIT Technology Review reported that Moms for Liberty and other right-wing groups were tracking teachers’ social media accounts and denouncing those who address LGBTQ issues as “groomers.” M4L’s animus toward educators teeters into the Twilight Zone as when a Midland, Texas chapter head accused the school board of providing litter boxes for students who identify as “furries” and “cats.” Scarlett Johnson, a Wisconsin M4L leader, tweeted that third-graders standing up for LGBTQ classmates had been “groomed.” Johnson had previously deleted her Twitter account after controversy erupted about her “racist and homophobic tweets”, but she is clearly at it again.

PENAmerica in its 2022 report on dangers facing freedom of expression singled out Moms for Liberty as the “most influential” group leading the book ban movement that has swept across the country. In Tennessee, M4L sought the banning of two second grade books: Martin Luther King Jr. and the March on Washington and The Story of Ruby Bridges, about a 6-year-old African American girl who integrated a Louisiana public school in 1960. The woman who got Amanda Gorman’s poem “The Hill We Climb,” which was read at President Biden’s inauguration, banned at a Florida school has ties to both Moms for Liberty and the Proud Boys. Maus, Arthur Spiegelman’s Pulitzer Prize winning graphic novel about the Holocaust, was banned by Moms for Liberty in McMinn County, Tennessee. Spiegelman has it right, “I mean, talk about Orwellian, you know? Calling this organization Moms for Liberty, when it's actually for suppression . . . “

If you are tempted by M4L’s “joyful warriors” marketing slogan, consider this. After New Hampshire passed a law limiting how teachers can discuss race, the local M4L branch offered a $500 bounty to the first person to rat out a teacher.

M4L isn’t grassroots parents fighting for children. It is tied to the powerful far-right Council for National Policy, which urged the Trump administration to abolish public education and replace it with “free-market private schools, church schools, and home schools.”

Moms for Liberty is the tip of the spear aimed at public education. We all need to fight back.