School board meetings have become the new front line in America’s culture wars. Over the past few months, there have been countless viral videos of angry parents spouting off on school board podiums about a whole host of issues.
There have been aggressive debates over mask mandates, the teaching of critical race theory and transgender equality.
School board meeting disruptions have become such a regular part of American life they were lampooned last weekend on “Saturday Night Live.”
However, threats to school boards are a serious issue and the Biden Administration should get ahead of the problem by taking a strong stance against those who threaten our educators. Recently, school board officials across the country have been threatened with violence, including one incident where a protester brandished a flagpole against a school board official.
The National School Boards Association sent a letter to the Biden Administration stating that, “These heinous actions could be the equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes.”
The threats have prompted U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland to address the issue. In response, Garland directed federal authorities to meet with local law enforcement over the next month to discuss strategies for addressing the increase in “harassment, intimidation and threats of violence against school board members, teachers and workers” in public schools across the country.
Just about every American would agree that we should work to protect school board members from threats of violence. However, Fox News reporter Peter Doocy used Garland’s decision to crack down on violent threats as a way to rile up conservatives.
He completely mischaracterized Garland’s directive in a question he asked White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Wednesday.
“Does the administration agree that parents upset about their kids’ curriculums could be considered domestic terrorists?” he asked.
“Let me unravel this a little bit,” Psaki answered, saying that Garland is “correct” to say that threats of violence against public servants “run counter to our nation’s core values.”
“Regardless of the reasoning,” she said, “threats and violence against public servants is illegal.”
Doocy then took things in an even more convoluted direction by claiming that Joe Biden was being hypocritical on the issue of protests.
“Something you said on Monday after some protesters were hounding Kyrsten Sinema into a restroom,” Doocy said, “You said, ‘The president stands for the fundamental right of people to protest, to object, [and] to criticize.’ So does the president support the fundamental rights of these parents to protest at school board meetings?”
“Of course,” Psaki said. Then, she took a moment to explain the difference between “violence” and “nonviolence” to Doocy.
“But he doesn’t stand for the fundamental right – I assume you don’t either – for people to take violent action against public servants. And that’s what the threats are about. And so, no, he doesn’t stand for that,” she said firmly. “No one should.”
When reporters like Doocy make bad faith arguments over issues as important as threats of violence to America’s educators, he puts them at risk by muddying the waters around the issue. If his logic finds its way to Fox News and people believe the Biden Administration wants to unleash the FBI on parents, he risks inspiring even more people to consider violent action on their local educators.