Garland Attempts to Silence Opponents, but They Will Vote

November 1, 2021 Updated: November 2, 2021

Commentary

As of this writing, the school board associations of at least 11 states have withdrawn from the National School Boards Association.

I hope the number will rise to 50.

As many readers will know, the NSBA, a left-wing lobbying group, made headlines a couple of weeks ago.

Merrick Garland, the attorney general of the United States, cited a letter from the group to the White House complaining about parents who had the temerity to vigorously criticize their local school boards for attempting to insinuate the Marxist teachings of “critical race theory” into schools, foisting virtue-signaling mask mandates on students, and injecting noisome gender-identity politics into primary and secondary schools.

The vocal criticism of those parents, the NSBA letter said, was “a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes.”

In response, Garland quickly issued a memorandum instructing the FBI and other Justice Department entities to create a “Partnership among federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial law enforcement to address threats against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff.”

What threats?

The NSBA cites a score of incidents, but almost all involve nothing more than parents loudly criticizing members of their school board. A good example is this splendid performance by a parent called Simon Campbell, a Brit who understands the U.S. Constitution much better than many Americans.

One example where there was violence involved Scott Smith, who was tackled by police, arrested, and found guilty of resisting arrest and disorderly conduct in Loudoun County, Virginia.

Smith claimed that his daughter had been raped by a “gender fluid” boy who entered the girl’s bathroom wearing a skirt.

At first, the school denied that anything happened.

We now know that Smith was right and that the boy in question not only raped his daughter but then, having been quietly sent to another school, went on to sexually assault another girl.

The NSBA, panicked by the criticism and defections, issued an apology.

They didn’t really think “or at least they are no longer prepared to say” that parents who criticize school board members are “domestic terrorists” who are guilty of “hate crimes.”

But I suspect that this effort at damage control will fail. It is too little, too late.

Garland’s breathtaking memorandum was subject to instant and scathing criticism.

And remember, Garland was supposed to be a “moderate.”

When Barack Obama, toward the end of his second term, proposed him for the Supreme Court (for the seat that eventually went to Neil Gorsuch), even many conservatives rallied round to tout his credentials, talents, and impartiality.

It turns out that the Republicans who kept him off the court were right: he was a left-winger masquerading as a moderate.

We got to witness exactly what sort of partisan operative he is during the Senate Judiciary Committee’s sometimes blistering cross-examination of Garland last week.

Especially noteworthy were the exchanges between Garland and Sens. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.).

Among other things, Cruz pushed the attorney general on the interesting fact that his son-in-law is the founder and president of Panorama, a multimillion-dollar company that sells critical race theory and related ESG (environmental, social, and governance) materials to schools around the country.

Was Garland’s son-in-law, Cruz wondered, likely to be enriched by more schools hopping on the critical race theory bandwagon, a predictable result of the Department of Justice’s threat to sic the FBI on parents who objected to the prospect of their children being indoctrinated.

All concluded their remarks calling on him to resign.

Cotton found a silver lining, “Thank God you are not on the Supreme Court.”

Far from repudiating his memorandum, the attorney general repeatedly reaffirmed it. He himself worked on it.

“It reflects my view. I stand behind it,” he said.

Which leaves us where?

I very much doubt that Garland will resign, at least not until Republicans retake the House and the Senate in 15 months.

In the meantime, we are left with an attorney general who is happy to mobilize the police power of the state to quash dissent.

Sure, he says he is in favor of the First Amendment, and he repeatedly stressed that he was only trying to protect school officials against violence, but the “violence” at school boards is parents yelling ridicule at the board members, behavior they are entitled to engage in.

The journalist Chris Bray put his finger on our predicament in a thoughtful article at his Substack about (in part) what is happening at school boards.

“The trap in our own moment,” he writes, “is that, first, governments have in many cases entirely stopped listening, as officials signal with growing clarity that they regard all grievances to their right as inherently without merit.”

Bray continues: “You express a grievance, and the school board orders the police to clear the room (and the police, incredibly, always do). But, second, resistance is coded as domestic terrorism at the first sign of raised voices, even if Merrick Garland pretends to be coy about the maneuver.”

Bottom line: “If you don’t resist, you won’t be heard; if you do resist, you’re a terrorist and a criminal and FBI SEARCH WARRANT—GET ON THE GROUND.”

You can ask Mr. Smith about how that works.

Bray concluded: “The game is that everyone takes their turn and then, whatever moves any players make, you lose.”

Maybe there is a silver lining here, too.

Despite the best efforts of the regime media to bury stories like the attorney general’s police state memorandum, the word is getting out and people are angry and getting angrier.

The Obama administration was able to paint the Tea Party as a bunch of Bible-thumping rednecks and “deplorables.” In fact, the vast majority were ordinary citizens: businessmen and women, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, doctors, even some teachers and lawyers.

But the campaign of vilification worked. The Tea Party was declawed, rendered irrelevant.

The strategy backfired, though, because those millions of people didn’t go away. They voted en masse for Donald Trump in 2016.

That’s something that the agents of the administrative state might wish to keep in mind.

With every passing day, legitimacy drains from the Biden administration.

On Nov. 2, Terry McAuliffe will lose the Virginia governor’s race.

Republicans will retake the House and the Senate in 2022.

You know what will happen in 2024.

It won’t necessarily be Trump, but it might be.

And if it isn’t, it will be someone equally obnoxious to the Left.

Hold on, it is going to be a wild ride.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Roger Kimball is the editor and publisher of The New Criterion and publisher of Encounter Books. His most recent book is “Who Rules? Sovereignty, Nationalism, and the Fate of Freedom in the 21st Century.”