It is no coincidence that the Department of Justice heeded the National School Boards Association’s call for the Biden administration to target parents critical of critical race theory curricula and dubious coronavirus policies in schools by labeling them domestic terrorists and mobilizing the DOJ and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The administration’s National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism mandates just such chilling action.
That little-discussed but hugely significant document codifies a War on Wrongthink, demanding that the full weight of the federal government and private-sector allies like Big Tech be brought to bear against dissenters from Biden regime orthodoxy. Consider “pillar four” of the strategy, titled “Confront Long-Term Contributors to Domestic Terrorism.” It reads in part:
…tackling the threat posed by domestic terrorism over the long term demands substantial efforts to confront the racism that feeds into aspects of that threat. We are, therefore, prioritizing efforts to ensure that every component of the government has a role to play in rooting out racism and advancing equity for under–served communities that have far too often been the targets of discrimination and violence. This approach must apply to our efforts to counter domestic terrorism by addressing underlying racism and bigotry.
On day one of the Biden presidency, the administration issued an executive order lamenting America’s “systemic racism.” In response, it called for the administration to pursue “an ambitious whole-of-government equity agenda.”
It also revoked the Trump administration’s executive order barring training of federal employees in “anti-American race … stereotyping and scapegoating” — an implicit reference to critical race theory and related critiques of America. This revocation could be seen as at minimum a tacit endorsement of CRT, as could the Biden administration’s dissolution of the Trump administration’s 1776 Commission, a group whose work could be seen as challenging CRT.
Administration Backtracked For Now
A Department of Education proposal in April represented a more direct demonstration of the Biden administration’s pro-CRT position. The rule would have prioritized grants for American history and civics programs that “incorporate racially, ethnically, culturally, and linguistically diverse perspectives,” citing as examples The New York Times’ 1619 Project and “anti-racist” par excellence Ibram X. Kendi.
The rule promoted “culturally responsive teaching,” which Ethics and Public Policy Center senior fellow Stanley Kurtz describes as an “ultra-woke and utterly politicized pedagogy derived from Critical Race Theory.” That rule was ultimately shelved amid a massive backlash, but the administration’s position was made clear: It fully supports critical race theory.
It stands to reason that the Biden administration would see support of CRT as consistent with its “equity” agenda, and therefore opposition to CRT as an impediment to it. “Equity” is a concept firmly rooted in the “anti-racism” of the likes of Kendi. Kendi asserts that “Antiracist ideas argue that racist policies are the cause of racial inequities.” CRT is therefore an anti-racist idea. To critical race theorists, then, opposing them is racist.
Whites As Greatest Domestic Threat
If, as the Biden administration argues, countering domestic terror, the greatest threat of which comes from white supremacism, requires “addressing underlying racism and bigotry,” as the national strategy says; and opposition to CRT is racist; then targeting CRT critics becomes a national security imperative.
With respect to the Chinese coronavirus, the Biden administration’s purported counter-terror strategy quotes from a March 2021 intelligence community domestic violent extremism (DVE) threat assessment noting that “Newer sociopolitical developments—such as narratives of … conditions related to the COVID-19 pandemic … will almost certainly spur some DVEs to try to engage in violence this year.”
That assessment followed a January 2021 national terrorism advisory bulletin noting that in 2020 “domestic violent extremists” were motivated by “anger over COVID-19 restrictions” and that “Threats of violence against critical infrastructure … increased in 2020 with violent extremists citing misinformation and conspiracy theories about COVID-19 for their actions.”
Subsequently, an August 2021 national terrorism advisory bulletin warned that:
…anti-government/anti-authority violent extremists will remain a national threat priority for the United States. These extremists may seek to exploit the emergence of COVID-19 variants by viewing the potential re-establishment of public health restrictions across the United States as a rationale to conduct attacks.
The bulletin cited “continued, non-specific calls for violence on multiple online platforms associated with DVE ideologies or conspiracy theories on…alleged reinstatement, and responses to anticipated restrictions relating to the increasing COVID cases.”
Questioning the Government Is a Domestic Threat
The Biden administration of course supports more restrictive coronavirus measures generally, and has vowed to combat policies barring universal masking in classrooms — the kind of policy parents have protested nationwide. Its purported counterterror strategy notes that “domestic terrorists” “espouse a range of violent ideological motivations,” including not just racism but “anti-government or anti-authority sentiment.”
The Biden administration apparently believes challenges to school boards on its favored coronavirus policies reflect such anti-government or anti-authority sentiment, as the DOJ memorandum responding to the NSBA argues that it is compelled to act given “Threats against public servants.” The NSBA notes that “groups” are “spreading misinformation that [school] boards are … working to maintain online learning by haphazardly attributing it to COVID-19.”
The Biden strategy calls for “enhancing faith in government and addressing the extreme polarization, fueled by a crisis of disinformation and misinformation … which can tear Americans apart and lead some to violence … Enhancing faith in American democracy demands accelerating work to contend with an information environment that challenges healthy democratic discourse. We will work toward finding ways to counter the influence and impact of dangerous conspiracy theories that can provide a gateway to terrorist violence.”
Seeking to frighten parents into silence by threatening to sic our nation’s most powerful law enforcement bodies on them for challenging critical race theory, or coronavirus policies, would seem to be perfectly consistent with the Biden administration’s “National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism.”
Its reach is virtually limitless if dissent from the regime’s agenda constitutes a danger to “democracy.” At minimum, it should be clear that critics of the regime’s CRT ideology, and coronavirus policies, have been classified as threats.
Parents Speak Up, Get Labeled Terrorists
The irony here, in the case of school boards, is that to justify its call for federal protection, the NSBA cites all of two instances where individuals were arrested at school board meetings for their behavior. Those two arrests concerned disgruntled parents at board meetings, one of whom allegedly struck a school official escorting him from the premises, and another of whom reportedly physically threatened someone and resisted arrest.
These acts are unacceptable, and anyone who breaks laws ought to be prosecuted accordingly. But is this the stuff of domestic terrorism?
Otherwise, the NSBA largely substantiates its concerns by flagging a series of disrupted school board meetings, some ending in the face of “angry mobs”; a report of menacing social media posts threatening several schools without any readily discernible connection to school boards and their positions on CRT or Chinese coronavirus policies; and another report that “A resident in Alabama, who proclaimed himself as “vaccine police,” has called school administrators while filming himself on Facebook Live.”
It appears the NSBA actually got this story wrong. “Vaccine police,” according to the link it includes, was “confronting pharmacists in a Missouri Walmart.”
Once again, is this the stuff of domestic terrorism? Is the threat so dire that it demands, as the NSBA called for, the intervention of no less than: the Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Homeland Security, Secret Service, National Threat Assessment Center, and U.S. Postal Service, under laws including the Gun-Free School Zones Act, PATRIOT Act, Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, Violent Interference with Federally Protected Rights statute, Conspiracy Against Rights statute, an executive order to enforce all applicable federal laws for the protection of students and public school district personnel, and any related measure?
So far, the Biden administration has only enlisted a subset of these agencies, but perhaps more is to come. One thing is clear: The Biden administration’s War on Wrongthink, masquerading as a domestic counterterrorism mission, will inflict infinitely more terror on America than will loving and impassioned parents concerned about the education and health of their children in the taxpayer-funded schools.
Ben Weingarten is a Federalist senior contributor, senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research, and fellow at the Claremont Institute. He was selected as a 2019 Robert Novak Journalism fellow of the Fund for American Studies, under which he is currently working on a book on U.S.-China policy. You can find his work at benweingarten.com, and follow him on Twitter @bhweingarten.