Is Garland right 'violence and threats of violence' is DOJ's only concern in school board memo?


Fact Box

  • Attorney General Merrick B. Garland is the 86th Attorney General of the United States sworn into office on March 11, 2021. He leads 115,500 employees of the Justice Department. 
  • Garland defended his memorandum on October 27, 2021, saying the Department of Justice was only concerned about “violence and threats of violence.” On the other hand, Republicans like Senator Charles Grassley said the memo targeted parents expressing their concerns over critical race theory and mask mandates. 
  • On October 4, 2021, Garland asked the FBI to meet in regards to an alleged “increase in harassment, intimidation and threats of violence against school board members.” His memorandum includes plans to create multiple task forces and training services for school boards. 
  • September 30, 2021, the National School Boards Association asked President Biden to address threats made to school board members over mask mandates. The organization noted over 20 instances of “threats, harassment, disruption, and acts of intimidation in California, Florida, Georgia, New Jersey, Ohio, and others.”

Chad (Yes)

United States Attorney General Merrick Garland was correct to state that 'violence and threats of violence' is the DOJ's only concern regarding school board meetings. This memo was issued after a dramatic rise in violence at school board meetings and direct threats made to teachers and school administrators. 

School board meetings are usually a mundane affair but have been plagued by violence over the last two years. Teachers are being assaulted and having their lives threatened while just trying to do their jobs.

A teacher's job is one of the most critical roles in a child's life, thus benefiting society. It is a difficult job that is underpaid and underappreciated, leaving a shortage in our country. Over COVID, this shortage grew worse, as teachers feared for their well-being and were tasked with additional roles for which they never trained. 

The unruliness seen at these meetings is politically motivated and generally centers around mask and vaccine mandates, gender policies, or Critical Race Theory being implemented in schools. As far as the medical mandates, teachers and school administrators are only following CDC guidelines aimed to protect their staff and community during a public health crisis that has killed three-quarters of a million Americans. 

Critical Race Theory is a course taught in college-level law schools for forty years but has been used more recently as a fear-mongering tool by right-wing media.

The memo from Garland clearly states that its focus is on 'threats of violence or efforts to intimidate individuals based on their views.' It is not an attack on free speech, as right-wing pundits claim. Saying so is intentional misinformation to stir up conflict and rile their base to gain political capital. 

Curtice (No)

When the National School Board Association sent a letter to the Biden administration about alleged threats of violence against school board members, it asked that parents could be classified as domestic terrorists.  

Not coincidentally, shortly after receiving the letter Attorney General Merrick Garland released a memo advising that the FBI will be investigating any alleged violence and threats of violence at school board meetings. Garland acted at the behest of the NSBA, using the federal government's power to threaten and intimidate parents from speaking out about controversial issues such as mask mandates and Critical Race Theory in schools. It was a clear and unprecedented abuse of federal power.

Realizing it didn't play well in the media, the NSBA has since apologized for the letter, stating that 'There was no justification for some of the language included in this letter.' Nevertheless, in congressional testimony, Garland refused to repudiate or withdraw his memo regarding the use of the FBI. 

It's important to note that if there are any heated exchanges at school board meetings that cross the legal boundaries, local police are available to investigate and uphold the law.

Yet, there may be another reason why Garland is interested in intimidating parents about Critical Race Theory being taught in schools. Garland's son-in-law is a corporate official with Panorama Education, Inc., which sells Critical Race Theory educational material to schools. 

If Garland's use of the FBI to silence parents is also a means of protecting his son-in-law's financial interests in promoting Critical Race Theory, this would be a clear conflict of interest and further abuse of power. And most importantly, it would have nothing to do with threats of violence from parents.

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