On Wednesday, Texas GOP Senator Ted Cruz grilled Deputy Attorney General Kristen Clarke over the Biden Justice Department ordering the FBI to investigate alleged “threats” against school board members and teachers, a move that comes as parents have been voicing opposition to Critical Race Theory and mask mandates. At one point, Cruz bluntly asked, “Do you believe parents objecting to the teaching of Critical Race Theory have civil rights in the democratic process?” Clarke answered, “Uh, I don’t follow the question, senator.”
Later, Cruz asked if Clarke believed parents objecting at school boards were “domestic terrorists.” He then asked if she believed Antifa and Black Lives Matter protesters “who burned shops, who firebombed police cars, who murdered police officers” were domestic terrorists.
When Clarke evaded answering the question, Cruz fired, “Ms. Clarke, it is amazing that you are not willing to condemn people who are murdering police officers and firebombing cities because your politics aligns with them, but at the same time when it comes to parents at school boards, you’re perfectly comfortable with calling a mom at a PTA meeting a ‘domestic terrorist.’”
A memo issued by Attorney General Merrick Garland on Monday reads in part:
In recent months, there has been a disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff who participate in the vital work of running our nation’s public schools. While spirited debate about policy matters is protected under our Constitution, the protection does not extend to threats of violence or efforts to intimidate individuals based on their views. 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.
Cruz began his questioning by remarking, “Ms. Clarke, when you testified before this committee and when Attorney General Garland testified before this committee, you both promised to be non-partisan and impartial. I’m sorry to say that I think neither of you has lived up to that promise.”
After citing the Biden administration’s dismissal of a civil rights lawsuit against Yale University, Cruz continued:
Just this week, after you were there, after Merrick Garland was there, the Department of Justice issued a memorandum to the FBI instructing them to mobilize against parents across the country. Parents of school kids who have the temerity to show up at school boards and express their opposition to the teaching of Critical Race Theory, a pernicious theory that divides us on racial lines, that tells children the lie that America is fundamentally racist, that America is irredeemably racist, that all white people are racist. It spreads racial division; many parents are, understandably, quite dismayed at schools that are teaching this to their children, sometimes as young as five. And yet the Department of Justice looked at that issue and decided to label the parents objecting to this teaching as domestic terrorists. Did you participate in discussions about the memo before it was issued?
“Senator, I can’t talk about internal deliberations inside the department,” Clarke replied.
“You can’t talk about whether you participated in discussions about the memo?” Cruz asked.
“No,” Clarke answered. “But what I can tell you is that the Civil Rights Division will play a role going forward. The Attorney General has asked the Department to undertake a review and the Division will participate in that review to determine how federal enforcement tools can be used to prosecute crimes.”
Then Cruz got down to brass tacks: “Do you believe parents objecting to the teaching of Critical Race Theory have civil rights in the democratic process?”
Clarke: “Uh, I don’t follow the question, senator.”
Cruz: “You don’t understand the question whether parents objecting to Critical Race Theory have civil rights?”
“The First Amendment is a core value in our democracy,” Clarke replied.
Cruz pointed out, “I didn’t say free speech; I said civil rights. School board meetings are democratic. They are petitioning your local government. Do they have civil rights that the Voting Rights gives a damn about?”
Clarke: “They have the right to express their view, to challenge the school boards, to ask —”
Cruz: “And is it beneficial for the Attorney General to label them as ‘domestic terrorists’ and direct the FBI to target them?”
Clarke: “The Attorney General’s memo deals with threats against public servants and says that threats against public servants are not only illegal, they run counter to our nation’s core values.”
Cruz: “Do you believe parents objecting at school boards are ‘domestic terrorists’?”
Clarke: “I don’t, senator.”
Cruz: “Do you believe Antifa are domestic terrorists?”
Clarke: “I don’t have a view about Antifa.”
Cruz: “Do you believe the Black Lives Matter protesters who burned shops, who firebombed police cars, who murdered police officers, do you believe they’re domestic terrorists?”
Clarke: “Senator, I believe we believe we live in a society where people espouse different views, but what we don’t want are threats of violence.”
Cruz: “Ms. Clarke, it is amazing that you are not willing to condemn people who are murdering police officers and firebombing cities because your politics aligns with them, but at the same time when it comes to parents at school boards, you’re perfectly comfortable with calling a mom at a PTA meeting a ‘domestic terrorist.’ Ms. Clarke, with all due respect, this demonstrates why the Democrat proposal to take someone with as long a partisan record as you have and to put you in charge of striking down any voting rights law in the country that you disagree with is nothing but a partisan power grab.”
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