White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki did not refute a teacher’s union’s characterization of parents who oppose Critical Race Theory as “domestic terrorists” and defended the Department of Justice dispersing the FBI to target CRT critics.
On Wednesday, Fox News’ Peter Doocy confronted Psaki on the heated controversy:
“A week ago, the National School Boards Association wrote to the president to say that their teachers feel like some parents protesting recently could be the equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism and then the attorney general put the FBI on the case. So does the administration agree that parents upset about their kids’ curriculums could be considered domestic terrorists?” Doocy asked.
“Well, let me unravel this a little bit, because the National School Boards Association is not a part of the U.S. Government,” Psaki said. “I point you to them.”
“What the Department of Justice said in letter from the Attorney General is that ‘threats against public servants are not only illegal they run counter to the nation’s core values.’ That is true,” she said. “These were threats against public servants, threats against members of the school board. Regardless of the reasoning, threats and violence against public servants is illegal. That’s what he was conveying from the Department of Justice.”
“But the Department of Justice does now have the FBI on this,” Doocy said, “Something that the school board association is asking is for the administration to consider using the Patriot Act to investigate some of these school board protesters. So would the administration be okay with the FBI using the Patriot Act to surveil the parents if that is what they decide.”
“I don’t speak on behalf of the National School Board Association, I speak on behalf of this government,” Psaki responded. “The attorney general has put out a letter. They will take actions they take and I would point you to them for more information.”
“Something you said on Monday after some protesters were hounding Kyrsten Sinema into a restroom,” Doocy followed up. “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 right of these parents to protest at school board meetings?”
“Of course,” she replied. “But he doesn’t stand for the fundamental right, I assume you don’t either, for people to take violent action against members – public servants. And that’s what the threats are about. No one should.”
But the Department of Justice’s letter about parents who object to Critical Race Theory was not solely about the specific cases being referred to but about the FBI coordinating with state and local law enforcement nationwide on the issue. This fundamentally has the end result of attempting to chill such criticism in advance.
On Monday, the attorney general released the memo: “Justice Department Addresses Violent Threats Against School Officials and Teachers.” It provided details on the DOJ’s operations.
“Citing an increase in harassment, intimidation and threats of violence against school board members, teachers and workers in our nation’s public schools, today Attorney General Merrick B. Garland directed the FBI and U.S. Attorneys’ Offices to meet in the next 30 days with federal, state, Tribal, territorial and local law enforcement leaders to discuss strategies for addressing this disturbing trend,” the DOJ said. “These sessions will open dedicated lines of communication for threat reporting, assessment and response by law enforcement.”
“Threats against public servants are not only illegal, they run counter to our nation’s core values,” wrote Attorney General Garland. “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.”
The attorney general did not clarify how teaching that people are inherently victims or victimizers because of the color of their skin is a “proper education in a safe environment.”
On Wednesday, Becker News reported that Attorney General Merrick Garland has a potential conflict of interest on Critical Race Theory because he has family ties to an education publisher that supplies CRT materials.
OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion.