Rep. Jim Banks to School Board Group: ‘You Posture as Victims While Pushing for Authoritarianism’

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 27: U.S. Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) (C) speaks as House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) (L) listens during a news conference in front of the U.S. Capitol July 27, 2021 in Washington, DC. Leader McCarthy held a news conference to discuss the Jan 6th Committee. …
Alex Wong/Getty Images

The chairman of the Republican Study Committee has demanded the National School Board Association (NSBA) explain its request for federal law enforcement to assist in matters between parents and local school officials.

Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) told the organization in a letter sent Thursday, “You posture as victims while pushing for authoritarianism.”

In his letter, reported by the Daily Caller, Banks referred to NSBA’s letter seeking help from President Joe Biden as “despicable.”

In response to a letter last week by NSBA, in which the organization asked President Joe Biden for “federal law enforcement and other assistance” to cope with frustrated parents at local school board meetings, Attorney General Merrick Garland mobilized the FBI, working with U.S. attorneys across the country, against parents, based on NSBA reports of incidents the group characterized as “threats or actual acts of violence against our school districts.”

Included in its list of examples of “threats or actual acts of violence” for which NSBA is seeking federal law enforcement assistance:

An individual was arrested in Illinois for aggravated battery and disorderly conduct during a school board meeting. During two separate school board meetings in Michigan, an individual yelled a Nazi salute in protest to masking requirements, and another individual prompted the board to call a recess because of opposition to critical race theory.

In New Jersey, Ohio, and other states, anti-mask proponents are inciting chaos during board meetings … A resident in Alabama, who proclaimed himself as “vaccine police,” has called school administrators while filming himself on Facebook Live.

NSBA asked Biden to issue an executive order that would serve to protect school officials and school board members from parents after review of “appropriate enforceable actions against these crimes and acts of violence under the Gun-Free School Zones Act, the PATRIOT Act in regards to domestic terrorism, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, the Violent Interference with Federally Protected Rights statute, the Conspiracy Against Rights statute.”

“The letter conflates disagreement with violence in an attempt to convince federal law-enforcement to crack down on your political opponents,” Banks asserted, questioning NSBA’s descriptions of “threats or actual acts of violence” cited in its letter.

“What does it mean to ‘incite chaos?’” Banks asked. “To disagree with a school board member? To disagree with [a] school board member loudly? To disagree with a school board member loudly and impolitely?”

People hold up signs during a rally against "critical race theory" (CRT) being taught in schools at the Loudoun County Government center in Leesburg, Virginia on June 12, 2021. - "Are you ready to take back our schools?" Republican activist Patti Menders shouted at a rally opposing anti-racism teaching that critics like her say trains white children to see themselves as "oppressors." "Yes!", answered in unison the hundreds of demonstrators gathered this weekend near Washington to fight against "critical race theory," the latest battleground of America's ongoing culture wars. The term "critical race theory" defines a strand of thought that appeared in American law schools in the late 1970s and which looks at racism as a system, enabled by laws and institutions, rather than at the level of individual prejudices. But critics use it as a catch-all phrase that attacks teachers' efforts to confront dark episodes in American history, including slavery and segregation, as well as to tackle racist stereotypes. (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP) (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)

People hold up signs during a rally against “critical race theory” (CRT) being taught in schools at the Loudoun County Government center in Leesburg, Virginia on June 12, 2021. (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)

“All of that may be unpleasant, but it might be well-deserved, and it never could be illegal and concern the FBI,” he added, noting:

Your letter intentionally muddles the distinction between protected speech and unlawful violence. Is that because there have been very few instances of unlawful violence targeted at school boards, and in such instances, local law enforcement has responded appropriately? In fact, you don’t cite a single instance of local law enforcement failing to arrest criminals who’ve broken the law. So, by the only relevant standard, federal law enforcement assistance is unnecessary. Their only conceivable purpose would be to intimidate and harass law-abiding Americans engaging in protected political speech that concerns their children’s education.

“The only thing that’s clear about this letter is that it was written by leftists,” Banks wrote, adding NSBA appears to view “dissenting parents as terrorists, not concerned constituents.”

Addressing the highly controversial nature of some of the issues facing parents and their children in schools, such as the introduction of the tenets of critical race theory and mask mandates, Banks spoke to the purpose of school boards:

Most school boards are required to meet publicly so that parents can provide feedback. Democracy and participation are so core to your mission that they were woven into school boards’ organizational structure, just like Congress’s. That is why your letter is so discrediting.

Banks asked NSBA to provide him, by October 20, with a “list of unlawful actions directed at school boards over the past year that were either: 1. Not prosecuted by local law enforcement; or 2. Planned and preventable, but not prevented by local law enforcement.”

“The National School Boards Association letter is dangerous and anti-American,” Banks told the Daily Caller.

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