What’s going on here?
I have a theory.
When the National School Boards Association sent an official letter asking President Biden to have parents investigated as “domestic terrorists” as they were vociferously objecting to their children being indoctrinated in critical race theory and other anti-white, anti-American propaganda, it must have seemed like a good idea at the time. The NSBA missive claimed that school board members were under “immediate threat” of violence by protesting parents. The Justice Department soon after, in a memorandum signed by Attorney General Merrick Garland, sicced the F.B.I. on dissenting parents:
“….The Department takes these incidents seriously and is committed to using its authority and resources to discourage these threats, identify them when they occur, and prosecute them when appropriate. In the coming days, the Department will announce a series of measures designed to address the rise in criminal conduct directed toward school personnel.Coordination and partnership with local law enforcement is critical to implementing these measures for the benefit of our nation’s nearly 14,000 public school districts. To this end, I am directing the Federal Bureau of Investigation, working with each United States Attorney, to convene meetings with federal, state, local, Tribal, and territorial leaders in each federal judicial district within 30 days of the issuance of this memorandum. These meetings will facilitate the discussion of strategies for addressing threats against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff, and will open dedicated lines of communication for threat reporting, assessment, and response.”
Oops! The memo was immediately assailed by critics, and not only on the Right, as government overreach and intimidation, as well as a political and partisan move to aid and abet a constituency organization pursuing a radical education agenda. Subsequently, information came to light that the letter may well have been triggered by the furious reaction of a parent to the Loudoun (VA) School District’s handling of his daughter’s rape by a skirt-wearing male student who had access to the high school’s girls bathroom due to a new and controversial pro-trans policy. Now the school administrators are caught in a rape cover-up scandal. Meanwhile, Garland’s memorandum was angrily and effectively exposed and condemned by Republicans in a House hearing this week as he unconvincingly insisted that it was not triggered by the NSBA letter, and denied that it was an effort to undermine opposition to what is increasingly being seen as a losing Democratic Party/progressive effort to seed divisive propaganda in the schools.
Garland’s performance was a high-profile disaster, further complicated by the revelation that his son-in-law would directly profit by an increase in critical race theory in public school curricula. Virginia Democrats appear on the verge of losing the State House next month, after candidate Terry McAuliffe said in a televised debate that parents should not be able to tell schools what to teach. President Biden’s popularity is also plummeting, though this issue is just one of many reasons for that.
What to do? I think that the decision was made that the NSBA needed to take one for the team. The White House asked them to say they didn’t mean it what they wrote, and imply that it was their fault that Garland acted against parents, the First Amendment and the right to petition the government. The NSBA just went a little crazy and called engaged parents making reasonable objections at school board meetings “terrorists.” It really LOVES those parents! It’s do-over time!
This is a classic Level 10 on the Ethics Alarms Apology Scale, “An insincere and dishonest apology designed to allow the wrongdoer to escape accountability cheaply, and to deceive his or her victims into forgiveness and trust, so they are vulnerable to future wrongdoing.” It is also, if I am correct and this was engineered by desperate White House strategists, astoundingly inept.
Who believes that an organization goes through the heavy process of getting approval for an official letter to the President, sends it, publicizes it, almost immediately gets the action it requested, and then suddenly decides it was all a mistake? It was a “mistake” because the thing blew up in their face, that’s all. But how does the retraction help Garland or Biden? They still reacted to the original letter like Pavlov’s dogs. They still issued a threat they had neither cause nor power nor right to issue. They still signaled—again—that this is a party with a taste for totalitarianism How stupid do these people think we are?
I have to say: I thought the Bush administration was about as incompetent as a group could be. Then Obama topped it: think about the handling of the Gulf oil spill, the roll out of the Obamacare website, the IRS scandal, Syria, the Secret Service, Benghazi, Iran. Amazing. Yet the Trump Administration was a true clown show, maybe a little better than Obama’s, maybe a bit worse, but still, wildly incompetent. Even with a President who is obviously missing a few cards in his deck, and the most unqualified VP since Dan Quayle (at least), I couldn’t imagine that this administration could be more incompetent than the previous one.
And yet it is.