Backlash toward yet another report of educational censorship in Florida is helping shine light on the far-right group Moms for Liberty.
The Florida-based organization’s members often portray themselves as fierce “mama bear” types whose love for children is expressed through efforts to ban books and topics from school curricula. Often, news outlets will cover the group without mentioning its extremist DNA.
But fortunately, progressive watchdog Media Matters has reported on the organization’s financial backing, its platforming of conservative extremists and conspiracy theorists, its members being accused of harassment and threats, and the group’s rapid rise into a prominent organization touted by right-wing media, including Steve Bannon.
Taken together, the reports offer strong evidence that raises questions about Moms for Liberty’s origins and seem to expose the organization’s extremist ties.
I’ve been skeptical from the jump, particularly after Bannon claimed in 2021 (around when Moms for Liberty was founded) that protests against school curricula — which Moms for Liberty helped lead — weren’t being driven by right-wing conspiracy theorists, but rather by “mainstream suburban moms.”
I tend not to believe Steve Bannon.
On Tuesday, Amanda Gorman added to my suspicion. In a righteous flurry of social media posts, the country’s first National Youth Poet Laureate reacted to the news that a Miami-area parent had successfully pressured a school to restrict several books, in addition to the poem that Gorman famously delivered at Joe Biden’s presidential inauguration.
The Miami Herald reported Monday that after the parent, Daily Salinas, complained about written works at her children’s K-8 school in Miami-Dade County, a school committee determined that Gorman’s poem, “The Hill We Climb,” and three other titles were “better suited” or “more appropriate” for older students and would be shelved in the middle school section of the school’s media center. The other titles are “The ABCs of Black History,” “Cuban Kids” and “Love to Langston.”
Salinas’ attempt to have Gorman’s poem banned complains it’s “not educational” and that it “indirectly” contains “hate messages.” Specifically, the form cites these two pages:
In her response, Gorman highlighted a Twitter thread chock-full of photos appearing to show Salinas both working with Moms for Liberty and protesting alongside extremists linked to white nationalism — such as the Proud Boys’ Enrique Tarrio, who this month was convicted of seditious conspiracy for his role in the violent Jan. 6 siege of the U.S. Capitol.
In a tweet Tuesday night, the Miami-Dade school system issued a response we’ve come to expect from book-banning districts these days, claiming Gorman’s poem hadn’t technically been banned since it’s still available to middle school students. Of course, this ignores that the poem is still banned for many students at the school for no morally justifiable reason.
“Together, this is a hill we won’t just climb, but a hill we will conquer,” she tweeted.
I agree. And part of the way we conquer this hill is by exposing groups like Moms for Liberty, whose true objectives Republicans try to shroud with talk of maternalism.
America’s children deserve to be fully emancipated from such groups. And these self-proclaimed moms could use a timeout.