(The Daily Signal) – President Joe Biden’s White House notoriously helped craft the National School Boards Association’s letter comparing concerned parents to domestic terrorists back in October 2021. That letter, later retracted, led to an FBI memo, also later retracted.
But last year, the Southern Poverty Law Center carried on this theme by adding parental rights groups to its “hate map,” which puts conservative groups alongside the Ku Klux Klan.
SPLC leaders and staff met with White House officials at least 11 times since January 2021, when Biden took office, and Biden nominated an SPLC attorney to a federal appeals court. The SPLC’s ties with the Biden administration raise troubling questions about whether the administration plans to target concerned parents again.
Yet new evidence suggests that the SPLC may have been involved in the original effort to target concerned parents, and may play a role in the Biden administration’s “domestic terrorism” efforts.
In fall 2021, around the time of the school board association’s letter, SPLC President Margaret Huang bragged in a donor meeting that many agencies in the Biden administration had approached the center to craft a domestic terrorism strategy.
“I think there’s no question that we are unparalleled in our abilities to track and monitor the hate and extremist groups in the country, and I can tell you that we’ve had many agencies in the new Biden administration reaching out to solicit our expertise and our knowledge and information to help shape the policies that the new administration is adopting to counter the domestic terrorism threat,” Ms. Huang said in a fundraising event video, first published by The Daily Signal.
As I wrote in my book “Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center,” critics have long noted that the center’s “hate” accusations exaggerate fears of terrorist threats, scaring donors to pony up cash.
The SPLC has put parental rights groups such as Moms for Liberty, Parents Defending Education, and Courage Is a Habit on its hate map with the KKK. A former employee described such accusations as a “highly profitable scam.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center’s attacks on parental rights groups are particularly revealing.
The SPLC’s education arm, formerly known as Teaching Tolerance, has long advocated many of the ideas that the parental rights groups oppose. The program, now known as Learning for Justice, advocates ideas such as critical race theory, which teaches that American society is systematically racist in a way that oppresses blacks and privileges whites.
The parental rights movement grew in the wake of COVID-19 lockdowns, when students “attended class” over Zoom and parents got a glimpse of the radical ideas their children were learning.
Parents raised concerns about teaching black students that they were oppressed and white students that they were oppressors, based merely on the color of their skin. Although the SPLC did not publicly move against these groups until 2023, it likely viewed them as an enemy from the beginning.
Concerned parents have also demanded that schools remove books from school libraries on the grounds they contain pornographic images. The SPLC has condemned these efforts as “book bans,” as has Biden.
Before the SPLC put these groups on the hate map, one of its researchers compared the parental rights movement to the “uptown Klans” of the 1950s, when whites in the South tried to maintain segregation after the Supreme Court’s landmark 1954 ruling in Brown v. Board of Education.
The SPLC maintains that these groups represent an “anti-student inclusion movement” driven by animus rather than a movement concerned about the radical ideas their children are learning.
It is ironic that the Biden administration would coordinate with the Southern Poverty Law Center to oppose domestic terrorism. The SPLC’s hate map inspired an act of terror against the Family Research Council in Washington, and an SPLC lawyer faces domestic terrorism charges for his alleged role in a riot near Atlanta last March that featured Molotov cocktails.
If the Biden administration considers the SPLC a reliable source on “domestic terrorism,” that suggests that the administration may revive its efforts to crack down on concerned parents. Biden may have aborted the first effort, but Americans should remain alert.