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How Deep Was Cardona’s Role in ‘Domestic Terror’ School-Board Letter?

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Education Secretary Miguel Cardona delivers remarks to honor the Council of Chief State School Officers’ 2020 and 2021 State and National Teachers of the Year at the White House in Washington, October 18, 2021. (Leah Millis/Reuters)

In September, the National School Boards Association sent the White House a letter likening school-board protesters to “domestic terrorists” and requested that the administration use any laws at its disposal, including the anti-terrorism PATRIOT Act, to investigate.

At the time, parents across the nation were confronting school boards over their support for Covid masking, shutdowns, and curricula that included critical race theory or associated anti-American and racialist materials. These issues were at the center of numerous political campaigns, most notably Virginia’s governor’s race.

Attorney General Merrick Garland swiftly acquiesced to this odd and unprecedented request. He issued a memorandum to the FBI and U.S. attorneys’ offices directing both to investigate parents protesting school boards and promised to look at a “disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff,” even though the vast majority of the incidents forwarded by the NSBA did not involve any threats of physical violence. Even the threats did not warrant federal involvement. But Garland’s act served to put parents who had voiced legitimate grievances regarding their children’s education under a pall of suspicion.

When a tweet from critical-race-theory opponent Christopher Rufo that highlighted the letter went viral, numerous major media outlets attempted to gaslight the public. “Contrary to false claims circulating online,” one Associated Press “fact check” noted, “the National School Boards Association didn’t ask President Joe Biden to label protesting parents ‘domestic terrorists,’ and there’s no indication Biden or the Justice Department called them terrorists, either.”

Yet the letter literally used the words “domestic terrorists” on two separate occasions. And it was no accident. The administration’s involvement was predicated on the existence of potential widespread violent “domestic terror.” It was the only real justification for White House intervention using the PATRIOT Act.

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