Enemies of the State

We have written about the National School Boards Association’s letter to Joe Biden asking for federal help against an alleged epidemic of violence against school boards, and about Attorney General Merrick Garland’s response to that request, a memo to the FBI dated just five days after the NSBA’s letter to Biden. When Garland’s masters say “jump,” he jumps.

Glenn Reynolds weighs in at the New York Post:

American parents are organizing to fight racist critical race theories being taught in their kids’ schools. Attorney General Merrick Garland, once touted as a moderate, has responded by asking the FBI to treat them as domestic terrorists.

As befits the Biden administration, this over-the-top authoritarianism is accompanied by the stench of corruption, as it turns out that Garland’s son-in-law is in the business of selling educational materials on CRT.

But of course, the genesis of this problem lies with the school boards themselves, not DOJ:

The bigger problem is that school boards all over America seem to be growing ever more authoritarian themselves. Instead of serving as bastions of small-scale representative democracy, boards seem to regard themselves as above accountability to the voters and parents.
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The magic words “I feel threatened” are now used by bureaucrats to escape accountability for their own misbehavior. That’s what the NSBA has done, on a larger scale, in the face of widespread parental dissatisfaction with curricula that tell white and Asian students that they are inherently racist and black students that they are permanent victims.

That is right. The NSBA’s letter to Biden alleged an epidemic of violence, but the handful of incidents it cited were pathetic. The idea that this is some kind of crime wave that local authorities are unable to cope with is ridiculous.

But the more insidious reference is to “threats.” How, exactly, is the FBI going to investigate these purported threats? The NSBA’s letter to Biden specifically invoked the PATRIOT Act as it relates to domestic terrorism. I take it the reference is to Title II, “Enhanced Surveillance Procedures.” Title II provides broad authority for interception of electronic and telephone communications. So does Garland’s direction to the FBI mean that the Bureau will undertake to collect emails sent and received by parents who are concerned about Critical Race Theory? Or monitor their telephone calls?

It remains to be seen whether Garland’s memo is just a sop to a Democratic Party constituency, or signals a serious intent to violate the civil rights of parents who complain to local school boards. Either way, Glenn’s closing injunction is on the money:

[I]t’s a disgrace that such a campaign exists at all and that our public schools are under the control of people who think such a response to criticism justified or appropriate.

As some Americans focus on cleaning things up at the national level, it’s also clear that people need to be paying a lot more attention on the local level. Want to make a difference? Run for school board.

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