In the past year, American educators and school boards have been deluged with threats and harassment over COVID restrictions and supposed "race indoctrination." Teachers are being physically assaulted and lunatics are showing up at school boards to menace the members. Yesterday the Justice Department issued a one-page memorandum instructing the FBI and US Attorneys to coordinate with local law enforcement officials to protect schools and their boards, "using its authority and resources to discourage these threats, identify them when they occur, and prosecute them when appropriate."

Naturally Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley is pissed. Not about the threats of violence directed at schools — he's apparently got no problem with that. No, Hawley is GRRR SO MAD that the DOJ is stepping in to protect school officials from violent harassment.

"Now Joe Biden is deploying the FBI against parents who have concerns about Critical Race Theory being taught to their children. This is a remarkable and dangerous abuse of power," he tweeted this morning.


Literally no part of that is true. The memo very clearly states, "While spirited debate about policy matters is protected under our Constitution, that protection does not extend to threats of violence or efforts to intimidate individuals based on their views. Threats against public servants are not only illegal, they run counter to our nation's core values. Those who dedicate their time and energy to ensuring that our children receive a proper education in a safe environment deserve to be able to do their work without fear for their safety."

But attacks on the institutions of our democracy are kind of Josh Hawley's thing, so naturally he continued this disingenuous line of attack at this morning's Judiciary Committee hearing.

Let's be very clear here that the AG's memo was in response to a plea from the National School Board Association for federal help protecting its members from an ongoing campaign of harassment, often led by people who don't even have children in the district.

Here's a sample of messages received by one school board in Illinois and read aloud by board president David Scarpino this week and reported by the Daily Herald:

"I view you as scum," one message said. "Scum that will soon be wiped from existing."

"We are now at a crossroads. Are we going to have a major conflict on our hands? I have an entire army ready to bring the guillotine down," one person wrote. "You're about to receive a very eye-opening lesson."

One message told the recipient that "a little accountability is exactly what you deserve, and I'm getting ready to serve it to you," while another called someone a "corrupt little puppet."

"I hope you're sweating. I hope you're losing sleep," Scarpino read from one message. "And if not, you should be."

Nevertheless, Hawley pretended that it was parents who were being harassed with federal storm troopers descending on school board meetings to silence them.

"Practically every day brings new information about this information weaponizing the federal bureaucracy to go after political opponents," he deadpanned.

"For those of us who missed the McCarthy era, I guess this president is intent on bringing it to us," said the politician who is currently seeking to outlaw disfavored speech in public institutions.

Deputy AG Lisa Monaco pointed out that the DOJ is tasked with assessing threats of violence, be they to school boards, elections, or congressmen — a subtle reminder that Hawley would sic the FBI on anyone who threatened to teach him an "eye-opening lesson" in a nanosecond. But Hawley wasn't about to let reality interfere with his soundbite.

"Is waiting to express one's view at a school board meeting harassment and intimidation?" he shouted. "You're using the FBI to intervene in school board meetings."

After Monaco continued to push back, Hawley threw a massive tantrum to run out the clock, accusing Monaco of failing to come prepared with examples of so-called intimidation and harassment and demanding that AG Merrick Garland himself be hauled before the Judiciary Committee to answer for his many crimes.

"I think parents across this country are going to be stunned to learn — stunned! — that if they show up at a local school board meeting, by the way where they have the right to appear and be heard, where they have the right to say something about their children's education, where they have the right to vote, and you are attempting to intimidate them," he shrieked. "You are attempting to silence them. You are attempting to interfere with their rights as parents, and yes, with their rights as voters."

Perhaps Monaco would have come "prepared" for the senator's questions if it were a hearing on education policy. But in fact the hearing was about the Violence Against Women Act, which Republicans let expire in 2018 because they objected to extending protections to transgender and same-sex couples.

Didn't think you could hate this guy more, didja? Well, he showed you!

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Liz Dye

Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.

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