Moms for Liberty? Hardly!

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.” 

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