Republican hysteria over critical race theory, COVID-19 protocols, and transgender students has resulted in an onslaught of threats and violence toward education officials in school board meetings.
One woman in Kansas said at a county commissioners meeting that members would be "tried for crimes against humanity" for mandating masks in schools, absurdly claiming there was "zero evidence that COVID-19 exists in the world." In Pennsylvania, a GOP gubernatorial candidate vowed to storm school boards with "20 strong men" in order to "remove" them from their posts. In Virginia, a school board meeting was declared an unlawful assembly after attendees grew increasingly belligerent. Attendees of a school board meeting in Tennessee surrounded a medical expert's car, threatening, "We'll find you!" after he testified in favor of masking kids in school.
The disturbing spike in threats and violence prompted the National School Board Association (NSBA) to issue a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland. The letter implored the Justice Department to monitor the spike in threats at school board meetings, which the NSBA said, in some instances, could amount to domestic terrorism.
Garland subsequently announced the Department of Justice would be doing an assessment to determine the severity of the purported spike.
"Threats against public servants are not only illegal, they run counter to our nation's core values. Those who dedicate their time and energy to ensuring that our children receive a proper education in a safe environment deserve to be able to do their work without fear for their safety."
This infuriated Republican lawmakers, who portrayed Garland's efforts as the unilateral surveillance and suppression of all American parents.
On Wednesday, Garland answered questions in a Senate Committee, where Republican Senators like Ted Cruz of Texas lambasted him for assessing whether or not school boards were under threat.
Cruz attempted to emphasize that 15 instances cited in the NSBA's initial letter were supposedly nonviolent, but he ended up defending a Nazi salute.
"During this hearing, I counted 20 incidents cited. Of the 20, 15 on their face are nonviolent. They involve things like insults. They involve a Nazi salute. That's one of the examples. My god, a parent did a Nazi salute at a school board because they thought the policies were oppressive. General Garland, is doing a Nazi salute at an elected official protected by the First Amendment?"
When Garland confirmed that Nazi salutes, however reprehensible, are protected under the First Amendment, a satisfied Cruz yelled, "Okay!"
But people were far from okay with his implication.
Cruz went soon went on Twitter to defend himself and, once again, defend the use of Nazi salutes in school board meetings.
But people were fed up.