A key component to the rise of authoritarian movements is the hijacking of education, along with the widespread disdain for intellectualism and expertise.
Today's Republican party has that in spades. Republican elected officials and political candidates have repeatedly demonized educators by painting teachers as radicals and encouraging citizens to intimidate school board officials. One Republican candidate, Steve Lynch, urged his supporters to gather "20 strong men" and forcibly remove school board members. Far-right Ohio Senate candidate J.D. Vance says professors are "the enemy," despite his professor at Yale Law School convincing him to write the book that gave him a modicum of relevance in the first place.
And this week, right-wing congressional candidate Heidi St. John displayed a hatred for libraries that's only rivaled by the fictional residents of Pawnee, Indiana.
In a wildly bigoted rant painting trans people as predators, St. John told the crowd:
"The public libraries are disastrous. They're actually evil organizations now, because they're run by the American Library Association, which is a wicked organization at its root. And so, I turned in my library card years ago, and for a homeschool mom to turn in her library card, it has to be pretty serious, y'know?"
She claimed that library bathrooms were not safe for her children and that libraries were peddling pro-LGBTQ content to children in secret so that they would be slowly "lulled into a completely backwards way of thinking."
People weren't on board with St. John's diatribe.
Sadly, St. John's nonsense has become part and parcel of the Republican platform.
St. John, who bragged about her hatred for libraries, is an author of multiple books about parenting and home schooling.