Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) says Americans should “be afraid of your government” following an announcement from the Department of Justice (DOJ) that the FBI would begin to investigate alleged “threats” against school officials, a move that comes as parents have been voicing opposition to Critical Race Theory and mask mandates.
“Moms at school boards are being told that they’re criminals, potential domestic terrorists, for the crime of dissent, and I think criminalizing dissent is something that we should all be appalled with,” Paul said Wednesday on Fox News.
Host Ben Domenech asked the senator what he would say to Americans worried that “if they go to their local school board and say the wrong thing, that they’re going to end up on some list that Merrick Garland goes after.”
“I would say be afraid. Be afraid of your government,” Paul said.
“That’s a sad thing from someone in the government to say, but the thing is, is those lists already exist. For example, people in northern Virginia that have gone to [protests], have been then sought out by the school council, by the members of the school board and retaliated [against] in a sort of legalistic way to try to put them on some sort of list and chill their speech by letting them know there’ll be a penalty for showing up and protesting,” Paul said.
Attorney General Merrick Garland’s announcement on Monday came after the National School Boards Association (NSBA) sent President Joe Biden a letter claiming “America’s public schools and its education leaders are under an immediate threat.” The NSBA asked the White House to consider investigating attendees of school board meetings and even using the 9/11-era Patriot Act to do so.
“I think the problem is it’s become so normalized to use government to search out and seek out your opponents,” said Paul.
The senator cited the FBI case of former Donald Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, whose communications were monitored by the agency after the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court issued warrants.
“There are people I know on the left who should have stepped forward and should have said how wrong it is to use this foreign intelligence court – that uses a standard lower than the Constitution – to go after a political campaign,” Paul said. “Yet, the Left — once it became about Trump, their hatred of Trump trumped everything else, and I have a feeling and a fear that the Left has become more authoritarian than we can really even imagine.”
“Look, there are all kinds of laws about decorum, and there ought to be,” Paul said. “The idiot woman that goes in the bathroom, filming Senator [Kyrsten] Sinema [D-AZ] in a bathroom, that is illegal according to every local ordinance and you should punish that person.”
“If you go to a school board meeting and you’re disruptive and you don’t obey the rules of the school board meeting, then there will be local punishment,” Paul said. “But that has nothing to do with the federal law, it has nothing to do with the Department of Justice. What Merrick Garland did is, he’s attempting to stifle dissent, and he’s attempting to say, ‘Beware or Big Brother’s coming after you if you speak out against my policies or against the Biden policies.’”