The Southern Poverty Law Center, which brands mainstream conservative and Christian organizations as “hate groups,” placing them on a map with chapters of the Ku Klux Klan, added a slew of parental rights organizations to that “hate map” for 2022 and labeled them “antigovernment groups.”
“Schools, especially, have been on the receiving end of ramped-up and coordinated hard-right attacks, frequently through the guise of ‘parents’ rights’ groups,” the SPLC’s “Year in Hate and Extremism” report claims.
“These groups were, in part, spurred by the right-wing backlash to COVID-19 public safety measures in schools,” the SPLC report says. “But they have grown into an anti-student inclusion movement that targets any inclusive curriculum that contains discussions of race, discrimination and LGBTQ identities.”
“At the forefront of this mobilization is Moms for Liberty, a Florida-based group with vast connections to the GOP that this year the SPLC designated as an extremist group,” the report notes. “They can be spotted at school board meetings across the country wearing shirts and carrying signs that declare, ‘We do NOT CO-PARENT with the GOVERNMENT.’”
The SPLC report does not once mention the Left’s aggressive promotion of sexualized material for children in schools and at other venues. It does not mention the “Drag Queen Story Hour” movement or the fact that many of the books which parents demand removed from school libraries include pornographic content. It does not mention how many on the Left champion the idea that children should be able to identify with a gender opposite their biological sex, hide that identity from their parents, and even obtain life-altering drugs without parental consent. Instead, it acts as though the parental rights movement emerged in a vacuum, or worse, is motivated by hatred.
The SPLC long has demonized conservative Christian groups such as Alliance Defending Freedom as “anti-LGBT hate groups,” national security groups such as the Center for Security Policy as “anti-Muslim hate groups,” and immigration groups such as the Center for Immigration Studies as “anti-immigrant hate groups.”
The SPLC’s 2022 report—released Tuesday—includes a new designation: the “antigovernment movement.”
“Hate and antigovernment groups make up the extreme edge of America’s hard right, an inherently antidemocratic movement that rejects pluralism and equity,” the SPLC report states. “The movement instead strives to build a society dominated by hierarchy, where people whom far rightists deem lesser or threatening—women, Black and Brown people, LGBTQ people, non-Christians and others—are socially and politically subjugated. The hard right has the advantage of building on already existing structural white supremacy, as well as its persistent and regular manifestations in everyday life and in politics.”
The SPLC report includes 523 “hate groups” and 702 “antigovernment extremist groups,” for a total of 1,225 organizations.
The list of “hate groups” names numerous parental rights organizations, including 230 chapters of Moms for Liberty, No Left Turn in Education (based in Gladwyne, Pennsylvania), 12 chapters of Parental Rights in Education, and many state-based chapters of Parents Involved in Education.
Virginia, the state in which Glenn Youngkin won a gubernatorial election by running on parental involvement in education, includes many such groups. Parents Against Critical Race Theory in Ashburn; Parents Defending Education in Arlington; Virginia Moms for America; and Virginia Parents Involved in Education all appear on the SPLC’s new list of “antigovernment extremist groups.”
Militia organizations such as III Percenters also appear in the same SPLC category, as do many chapters of Eagle Forum, a conservative women’s group headquarted in Alton, Illinois.
The SPLC revealed a focus on parental rights groups in April, when the organization’s Maya Henson Carey compared parental rights advocates to the “Uptown Klans” of white Southerners trying to maintain segregation after the Supreme Court’s landmark 1954 ruling in Brown v. Board of Education.
Writing in “State of Black America,” an annual report from the National Urban League, Carey warned that “groups like Moms for Liberty, Parents Defending Education, and Parents Against CRT work diligently with politicians, right-wing celebrities, and extremist groups to spread their messages of hate, lobbying for anti-CRT and anti-LGBTQ legislation and making sweeping changes by influencing school boards to fire superintendents, constrain diverse curricula and ban books.”
Notably, the SPLC kept many organizations on its “hate group” list, including Alliance Defending Freedom, the Family Research Council, and the Foundation for American Immigration Reform.
As I explain in my book, “Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center,” the SPLC’s accusation against the Family Research Council inspired a terrorist attack in 2012. A shooter targeted the council’s Washington, D.C., office, using the “hate map.” He intended to kill everyone in the building, but a brave security guard prevented him. The shooter is currently serving a 25-year prison sentence.
The SPLC also kept the Dustin Inman Society on the list. The society’s founder and president, D.A. King, filed a defamation lawsuit against the SPLC, specifically challenging its “hate group” accusation. His lawsuit became the first such lawsuit to reach the discovery stage earlier this year. D. James Kennedy Ministries, a Christian nonprofit that previously sued the SPLC for defamation and appealed all the way to the Supreme Court, also remains on the list.
The SPLC has faced numerous scandals and hits to its credibility. In 2019, it fired its co-founder, Morris Dees, amid accusations of racial discrimination and sexual harassment tracing back decades. Amid that scandal, a former employee came forward as having been “part of the con.” He wrote that the SPLC’s hate accusations are a “highly profitable scam.”
Parental rights groups slammed the SPLC attack in comments to The Daily Signal.
Parents Defending Education President Nicole Neily called the SPLC attacks “as malicious as they are ridiculous.”
“At PDE, we have fought alongside parents of every background to end government-sponsored segregation programs, because no student should be treated differently because of his or her skin color or ethnicity,” Neily told The Daily Signal. “SPLC and its designations are as malicious as they are ridiculous. No partisan PR stunt from a dishonest scam group like SPLC will impede our important work for America’s students.”
“Two-thirds of Americans think the public education system is on the wrong track today,” Moms for Liberty Co-Founders Tiffany Justice and Tina Descovich told The Daily Signal. “That is why our organization is devoted to empowering parents to be a part of their child’s public school education.”
“That is our fundamental goal, which began just two years ago when teacher’s unions locked students out of schools during the pandemic,” Justice and Descovich added. “Empowering parents continues to be our mission today and that has fueled our organization’s growth – like wildfire to now 45 states in the country.”
“Name-calling parents who want to be a part of their child’s education as ‘hate groups’ or ‘bigoted’ just further exposes what this battle is all about: Who fundamentally gets to decide what is taught to our kids in school – parents or government employees? We believe that parental rights do not stop at the classroom door and no amount of hate from groups like this is going to stop that,” they concluded.
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