It sounds like the plot of an over-the-top action movie or political satire: Mothers who join local school boards across the country are actually part of a radical network that is infiltrating the government from below, taking power. is determined to, punishes your opponents and eventually rule with the iron fist. But this seemingly outlandish plot is actually a blatantly accurate description of Moms for Liberty, a booming nonprofit whose members have campaigned on local school boards to ban LGBTQ and race-related materials, including COVID-19. -19 restrictions and the adoption of other conservative measures.
In a political climate characterized by violent rebellion, unwavering conspiracy theories, voting restrictions, black and anti-LGBTQ censorship and a denial of basic history and science, a group of moms attending local school board meetings seems like the least dangerous thing to do. Is. Current Conservative Movement. Yet the veneer of respect and altruism that comes with the image of “concerned mothers” is actually a thin veil for a wider and more sinister movement. Moms for Liberty is an offshoot of the far-right movement that has come to dominate modern American conservatism, its strategy representing a dangerous shift in strategy for this movement.
With a name that sounds right to the group’s supporters and Orwellian to its detractors, Moms for Liberty had a smooth start. The organization was founded by Tina Deskovich, Tiffany Justice and Bridget Ziegler – three women who were members of the local school board in Florida. Initially, the group focused on opposing mask mandates in Florida public schools. But as membership grew in Florida and spread to other states, Moms for Liberty quickly evolved into a federation of local chapters across the country fighting a wide range of Culture War-inspired issues. The group has pushed for a ban on Critical Race Theory – prohibitions that have been widely interpreted to ban discussions of racism – and LGBTQ-friendly material.
Group leaders proudly spoke of their close ties with the Republican Party. The party’s rising stars – including Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin, Iowa’s Kim Reynolds and Florida’s Ron DeSantis – make a show of their close ties with Moms for Liberty and the tremendous support they receive. The group has started several political action committees and has indicated a willingness to support political candidates beyond school board elections.
Moms for Liberty has come under scrutiny not only for its right-wing agenda but also for its strategy. The organization has been blamed for loudly disrupting school board meetings, harassing officials in their homes and even making false allegations of child abuse. An early target of this treatment was Jennifer Jenkins, who defeated Deskovich, co-founder of Moms for Liberty, in a local school board race. Jenkins reports that Moms for Liberty began disrupting school board meetings, accusing board members of being “pedophiles” and threatening violence against them. Jenkins’s cell phone number was publicized by a state senator with ties to Moms for Liberty, and she was even falsely reported for child abuse, prompting an official investigation. Was. Moms for Liberty, of course, denies any involvement in such aggressive and potentially illegal tactics, while openly acknowledging the ideas behind them.
As Moms for Liberty expands in membership and influence, its agenda has also become more broad and aggressive. Members of the group aggressively advocated for the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill passed in Florida. A quick perusal of the group’s official Twitter accounts reveals that it promises a “fight against forced masking” in schools, which harks back to the organization’s original rallying cry. But the page is also filled with posts or retweets condemning “transgender indoctrination,” linking LGBTQ-inclusiveness to pedophilia and demanding jail time and fines for teachers who use critical race theory, social-emotional education, and more. and other concepts that have become distorted and demonic. by right.
In fact, as the mask mandate – the group’s core mobilization issue – has been largely removed, racial and LGBTQ issues are increasingly becoming the group’s main areas of focus. For example, a new tactic is to equate gender and sexuality-related material in schools with children being “groomed” for sexual abuse and exploitation. Co-Founder Justice rejects criticism of such inflammatory language. “If someone says they don’t like that label,” she says of the baseless beauty allegations, “then I say stop messing with our kids.”
Such increasingly radical stances place Moms for Liberty with other right-wing movements that were once fringe but have become mainstream within the Republican Party. In a sign of synergy between these various extreme-right movements, a prominent Moms for Liberty member who was appointed to the Florida Board of Education by DeSantis has demonstrated support for the QAnon conspiracy theory and the Capitol Hill insurgency.
In many ways, Moms for Liberty is a symptom of a greater distortion within the Republican Party, which has rapidly drawn up and mobilized prejudiced, anti-democratic forces in a cynical attempt to seize and retain power at any cost. But while movements such as QAnon and militias such as the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers have increased in influence and acceptance within conservative circles, they are still held at arms’ length by mainstream Republicans who tend to associate more radical elements of modern American conservatism. afraid to be
In contrast, Moms for Liberty’s threat comes not only from its far-right stance and its aggressive tactics, but also from its ability to gain mainstream acceptance that other fringe elements of the Republican Party cannot. In contrast, Moms for Liberty is already being compared with major conservative movements such as the Moral Majority and the Tea Party. If a group with a radical agenda of Moms for Liberty can achieve the type of sustained political influence that these past conservative movements have exercised, it could seriously damage civil liberties, shutting down political discourse. and can further undermine the democratic institutions that are under attack. recent years.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial stance of Al Jazeera.