Depressing though it is, I have to give MAGA Republicans credit for their ability to (mis)use language–their talent for appropriating/twisting the usual meanings of words in ways that resonate with with Americans who–for whatever reason–don’t stop to unpack what is actually going on.
We’ve finally gotten to a place where most Americans do recognize that many of the people claiming to be “pro-life” are actually only pro-birth. To be genuinely pro-life would require support for feeding, clothing and educating the children who emerge from those wombs; it would require support for women’s health, and recognition that interventions needed to save pregnant women’s health and lives should be determined by doctors, not politicians.
And I won’t even address the inconsistencies of those “pro-life” zealots who favor the death penalty. (I once challenged a colleague who was pro-birth and pro-death penalty; his response was that criminals had “forfeited” their right to continue breathing…)
Now, of course, we have “Moms for Liberty.” Liberty is another one of those words that has taken a real beating from the crazed MAGA crowd; I was particularly fascinated by the lunatics who claimed that wearing a mask during a pandemic in order to protect their friends and neighbors from disease violated their rather peculiar definition of “liberty.” These were almost always the same people who want government to dictate women’s reproduction and trans children’s choice of bathroom.
Let’s just say their definition of “liberty” is highly selective..
The most recent group to misuse the term is “Moms for Liberty,” and like most theocratic and autocratic folks, “Moms” misuse the terminology. Their real motto ought to be “Liberty for me but not for Thee.”
The Brookings Institution recently issued a report on those self-righteous moms. The report included the fact that the Indiana chapter had been in the news for featuring an Adolf Hitler quote in its newsletter.
That quote–which they hastily withdrew after considerable attention to it from local media–would seem to confirm the description of the group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which identifies Moms for Liberty as a “far-right organization that engages in anti-student inclusion activities and self-identifies as part of the modern parental rights movement. The group grew out of opposition to public health regulations for COVID-19, opposes LGBTQ+ and racially inclusive school curriculum, and has advocated books bans.”
Moms for Liberty is an antigovernment organization founded in 2021 by former Florida school board members, Tiffany Justice and Tina Descovich. Current Sarasota County, Florida school board member, Bridget Ziegler, was also a co-founder. She has since left the group, leaving Justice and Descovich at the helm.
Moms for Liberty and its nationwide chapters combat what they consider the “woke indoctrination” of children by advocating for book bans in school libraries and endorsing candidates for public office that align with the group’s views. They also use their multiple social media platforms to target teachers and school officials, advocate for the abolition of the Department of Education, advance a conspiracy propaganda, and spread hateful imagery and rhetoric against the LGBTQ community.
SPLC followed that description with a list of quotes from members, and–assuming you can stomach the vitriol–you really have to read what the actual “moms for liberty” have to say. It’s incredibly hateful. They seem especially fixated on the notion that gender dysphoria exists, calling it a “mental illness,” but the animus extends far beyond gay children; one “mom for liberty” threatened to shoot a librarian. (I guess “liberty” doesn’t extend to our right to read books these fearless warriors disapprove of…)
SPLC reports that the “social media accounts and real-world activity of the national organization and its chapters” is filled with antigovernment and conspiracy propaganda, and especially with anti-LGBTQ and anti-gender identity diatribes. The group also opposes inclusive curricula, and is firmly anti-public school. (In case you hadn’t noticed, teachers’ unions are the devil’s handiwork…)
I began my professional life as a high-school English teacher, and I continue to believe that words have meanings–both connotations and definitions. Among the multitude of problems we face in our effort to create and maintain a government that functions properly and respects all of its increasingly diverse citizens, communication is key. And key to our ability to communicate is our use of accurate language.
I don’t know how “pro-life” people who don’t care about the lives of children once they’re born–or the lives of women experiencing dangerous pregnancies– define “pro life.” I’m pretty sure “moms for liberty” haven’t the slightest notion what “liberty” actually means.
Along with everything else we need to do, Americans really need to reclaim the English language…Comments