FIRST ON THE DAILY SIGNAL—Moms for Liberty co-founder Tiffany Justice responded to harsh criticism from Manhattan’s borough president, who attacked the parental rights group ahead of a town hall-style event later this month.
Mark Levine, the borough president, said Wednesday that Moms for Liberty “has no place here” after he learned about the event, which will take place Jan. 18 at an Upper East Side venue.
“This group is anti-LGBTQ, supports book bans, harasses teachers & school librarians, and has been labeled by [the Southern Poverty Law Center] a ‘far right extremist organization,’” Levine wrote in a statement.
“Manhattan is the home of Stonewall,” he added, referring to the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar that was the site of the 1969 riots that sparked the LGBTQ movement. “We celebrate cultural diversity in our classrooms. We believe in books. [Moms for Liberty] has no place here or [in] any other part of NYC.”
Justice responded by asking whether Levine would “like to join us” at the town hall.
“We have been, and always will be, committed to allowing parents to decide what is best for their children,” Justice told The Daily Signal in a statement Thursday responding to Levine’s attack. “We would love to have Mark try and explain how politicians know better how to make decisions for students over their own parents.”
Justice said Moms for Liberty will go forward with the town hall event, regardless of any actions Levine might take to block it.
As for the claims that Moms for Liberty is “anti-LGBTQ,” Justice said one of the group’s top leaders is lesbian, the organization has gay chapter chairs, and some chapter chairs have gay kids.
Levine did not respond to The Daily Signal’s request for comment on what actions, if any, he planned to take to prevent the town hall from taking place.
Moms for Liberty emerged in 2021 as remote learning over Zoom exposed many parents during the COVID-19 pandemic to the radical lessons their children receive in class.
Parents raised the alarm about critical race theory—a framework that encourages students to see American society as fundamentally racist, with students as oppressors or oppressed based on skin color—as well as sexualized materials and gender lessons at young ages.
Many school boards and Democratic candidates at first dismissed parents’ role in education, saying that teachers, as “education professionals,” should make education decisions. Now, many on the Left accuse groups such as Moms for Liberty of “book banning” because these parent groups object to pornographic material available to children in school libraries.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit that suggests conservative groups are rooted in hate just like the Ku Klux Klan, long pushed critical race theory and transgender lessons through its Learning for Justice program (previously known as Teaching Tolerance).
As I explain in my book “Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center,” the SPLC sued KKK groups into bankruptcy in the 1980s, then took the program it used for that purpose and weaponized it against conservatives, putting conservative nonprofits such as the Family Research Council, Alliance Defending Freedom, and the Center for Immigration Studies on a map alongside KKK chapters. This map inspired a terrorist attack on the Family Research Council in 2012.
In 2019, amid a racial discrimination and sexual harassment scandal that led the SPLC to fire its cofounder, a former employee came forward saying the SPLC’s “hate” accusations are a “highly profitable scam.” Liberals who often side with the SPLC, including former ACLU President Nadine Strossen, nevertheless have condemned the SPLC’s claim that Alliance Defending Freedom—a nonprofit champion of religious liberty that has won multiple Supreme Court cases—is a “hate group.”
In 2018, the Southern Poverty Law Center paid a $3.38 million defamation settlement to Maajid Nawaz, a Muslim reformer branded by the SPLC as an “anti-Muslim extremist.” An SPLC lawyer currently faces domestic terrorism charges for his role in an Atlanta riot in March 2023 that involved molotov cocktails.
In June, the SPLC added Moms for Liberty and other parental rights groups to its “hate map,” claiming the organizations represent “antigovernment extremist groups” in an “anti-student inclusion movement.” Moms for Liberty reported receiving death threats after this attack.
Leading up to that move, the SPLC had met with President Joe Biden at the White House and Biden had appointed an SPLC attorney to a top federal judgeship. These ties suggest the SPLC’s decision to target parental rights groups may have something to do with the Biden administration’s previous involvement in an infamous letter from the National School Boards Association in 2021 that compared parents to domestic terrorists.
Levine, who had cited the SPLC smear, didn’t respond to questions about whether he considers the Southern Poverty Law Center to be a reliable source on hate, given its scandals. He did not respond to concerns that citing the SPLC may alienate conservative New Yorkers in the borough of Manhattan.
Nor did Levine explain how requesting that school libraries remove books with pornographic images equates to a “ban” on books.
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