Many organizations take on titles that are carefully crafted to either deliberately conceal their true purpose or to at least make their efforts more difficult to surmise, much like titles given to pieces of legislation at both the state and federal levels.
“Moms for Liberty” is one such case. A more accurate title for this group might be Moms Who Believe Their Children Shouldn’t Read Certain Things So Neither Should the Children of Anyone Else (MHBTCSRCESONSCAE).
To suggest that this group is for anything like liberty is like suggesting that the KKK is just a group of people who like to dress up in bed sheets.
In 2022 the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) listed Moms For Liberty as an “anti-government extremist group.” There is a possibility that the influence of this group has crept into recent actions of our local library board when it voted last December to restrict access to a single book Gender Queer, the most banned book in 2022.
Recently, the newsletter produced by an Indiana chapter of MFL used a quote by Adolf Hitler: “He who owns the youth, gains the future.” The chapter was roundly criticized and quickly issued an apology: “We condemn Adolf Hitler’s actions and his dark place in human history. We should not have quoted him in our newsletter and express our deepest apology.”
Very good. A decent and adequate apology.
But then MFL added a “context” section to its newsletter: “If the government has control over our children today, they control our country’s future. We The People [capitalization in original] must be vigilant and protect children from an overreaching government.”
So MFL acknowledges its mistake, regrets it, and then proceeds to equate the U.S. government with Nazi extremism by suggesting government control over children and describing it as “overreaching.”
In some respects, MFL is correct in noting government control over children in the sense that our school administrations, under control and guided by locally elected individuals, determine methods and means of curriculum based on decades of knowledge of what is required to prepare students to enter society and become valuable members of that society.
And yet the sole purpose of MFL appears to be to restrict access to educational materials which promote that process, by concentrating on elements that describe and educate — not proselytize — about the realities of today. Then they look for questionably salacious material within books and work to get them banned.
Moms (and dads) should have the liberty to determine what their children read or see (we wonder if those moms are as diligent about watching what their own children access on their cell phones). What they do not have a right to do is to determine what the children of other people read or see.
And since MFL is (was) so fond of quoting Hitler, they should also take a look at the films of Hitler’s minions throwing vast numbers of books in a pyre as they burned great works of those they deemed antithetical to the tenets of that régime which included works by Thomas Mann, Eric Maria Remarque, Hellen Keller, and Theodore Dreiser.
And since we’re dealing with quotes here, I’d like to introduce one of my favorites. It was uttered by Clarence Darrow in the trial of John Scopes in 1925. The reference was to the teaching of evolution, a still-controversial topic at the time, but it applies just as well today when censorship efforts are directed toward keeping students from learning about different life choices.
Darrow said to the judge in that trial, “Your Honor knows the fires that have been lighted in America to kindle religious bigotry and hate. If today you can take a thing like evolution and make it a crime to teach it in the public school, tomorrow you can make it a crime to teach it in the private schools, and the next year you can make it a crime to teach it to the hustings or in the church. At the next session you may ban books and the newspapers. Soon you may set Catholic against Protestant and Protestant against Protestant, and try to foist your own religion upon the minds of men. If you can do one you can do the other.
“Ignorance and fanaticism is ever busy and needs feeding. Always it is feeding and gloating for more. Today it is the public school, tomorrow the private. The next day the preachers and the lecturers, the magazines, the books, the newspapers. After a while, Your Honor, it is the setting of man against man and creed against creed until with flying banners and beating drums we are marching backward to the glorious ages of the sixteenth century, when bigots lighted fagots* to burn the men who dared to bring any intelligence and enlightenment and culture to the human mind.”
Eerily familiar isn’t it?
*Editor’s note: The word quoted above, “fagot,” appears to be a misspelling from the original quote. Darrow surely meant “faggot,” a word which has in modern times become an ugly epithet, but the original meaning was “a bundle of sticks or twigs bound together as fuel.”