Op-Ed: Biden’s Federal Bureau of Intimidation
November 01, 2021
By John Zadrozny in The Washington Times
The Biden administration’s latest assault on American citizens is offensive, unconstitutional, and tyrannical.
On October 4, the Biden Administration’s Department of Justice issued a memorandum in response to the National School Boards Association’s (NSBA) September 29 letter requesting DOJ’s involvement in assessing and addressing alleged threats against school boards across the United States. In its letter, NSBA breathlessly stated that “America’s public schools and its education leaders are under an immediate threat,” and that it was requesting DOJ’s “federal law enforcement [authority] and other assistance to deal with the growing number of threats of violence and acts of intimidation occurring across the nation.” Among its laundry list of requests, it asked DOJ to use the USA PATRIOT Act and other federal counterterrorism tools to address the “domestic terrorism and hate crimes” occurring in school board meetings.
While NSBA’s letter cites allegedly inappropriate conduct such as assaults or threats of violence, it also lists quite a few instances of basic, non-violent speech. For example, it cites a June school board meeting in Grand Ledge, Michigan, where parents expressed vocal opposition to mask mandates and critical race theory, which led the board to flee instead of listening to concerns. It also cites an effort by Turning Point USA to draw national attention to school districts and school board members that are pushing policies opposed by many American parents, including critical race theory. These instances, and others cited in the letter, at least based on current reporting, do not even approach the threshold of criminal conduct.
Attorney General Merrick Garland’s lightning-quick response to NSBA both agreed with the overall premise of their letter and committed federal assistance, including exceeding federal jurisdiction, in the coming weeks.
All of the above should serve as major warning signs for the American people.
For starters, the Biden administration has launched an unprecedented and truly scary assault on the First Amendment. The administration’s response to NSBA’s letter makes it clear it views dissatisfied parents expressing non-violent opinions to out-of-touch school boards as dangerous enough to be considered domestic terrorists. The federal government’s behavior here is exactly why we have a First Amendment in the first place. The First Amendment is not about art. The Founders understood that the essence of free speech was speech in public discourse that challenged public officials and, when necessary, made them uncomfortable. When the general public’s speech makes public officials uncomfortable, it is usually because the latter are not doing their jobs. When your bosses speak, you must listen, whether it makes you uncomfortable or not.
Furthermore, the Biden administration is using the force and weight of the federal government, in conjunction with local abusers of official authority, to intimidate American parents into not speaking up on behalf of their children.
This is not only unconscionable and possibly illegal, but it is also somewhat ironic. After all, it seems strange that NSBA would reach out to DOJ saying that they are being intimidated by American parents who attend school board meetings, but then ask for DOJ to … intimidate American parents into not attending school board meetings. It is even stranger and unnerving that DOJ agreed to do so. I truly cannot think of anything more un-American than the federal government threatening to use law enforcement authority to chill American parents into inaction.
It also appears that there has been some long-term (dare I say) collusion between NSBA and DOJ, which raises even more questions about whether federal resources have been directly or indirectly involved in the suppression of American parents’ speech to date.
Somehow, DOJ responded to a complex request for assistance from a non-profit organization in less than four business days. It takes the federal government more time to order printer paper. Such collusion may not be illegal, but it is certainly unseemly, particularly at a time when the federal government is failing in most of its other core duties. Joe Biden can seem to find neither the time nor the will to secure our southern border or prevent the entry of potential national security threats from overseas, but when it comes to stopping American parents who demand accountability from Marxist school boards, he is on it.
Americans must never forget: Elected officials, from the president to dogcatcher, work for you.
John Zadrozny serves as Director, Center for Homeland Security and Immigration for the America First Policy Institute (AFPI).