“Moms for Liberty”: from angry American mothers to extremist group

The “Moms for Liberty” on Tuesday became the first parent-teacher movement to be listed as a hate group in the United States by the Southern Poverty Law Center. How did this group achieve such a meteoric and surprising rise within the galaxy of ultra-conservative movements?

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Quite a feat. Just over two years after its creation, the “Moms for Liberty” movement was added on Tuesday June 6 to the list of hate groups in the United States, compiled by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), the main northern NGO -American counter extremism. This annual report on hate in the United States has become the reference document on the subject, underlines the daily USA Today.

This is the first time in the United States that a group of parents of students has been designated as a dangerous extremist movement, in the same way as supremacist groups such as the Ku Klux Klan or the Proud Boys.

brutal methods

“They are warriors who fight against inclusive education and have become notorious for their methods of systematic harassment and intimidation”, underline the authors of the report of the Southern Poverty Center.

Originally, however, the “Moms for Liberty” were just a group of three ultra-conservative mothers who were very upset with one woman: Jennifer Jenkins, who had beaten one of the group’s founders in an election. on the Education Council of a school in Florida.

They then made her live a real hell, as she told the site Vice. The ‘Moms for Liberty’ are suspected of filing a false complaint with Childhood Advocacy Services, claiming that Jennifer Jenkins was a drug addict and hit her daughter. Relatives of the group have repeatedly challenged the child, telling him to “be careful [car] your mom hurts the children.” Other supporters lined up outside Jennifer Jenkins’ house to insult her as soon as she stepped outside.

The foundations of the “Moms for Liberty” method were then laid, and these women would soon benefit the whole country. In two years, more than 110,000 angry mothers in 42 states have joined the ranks of this army rising up against all that is “woke in education”, according to their website.

Pandemic obliges, they began by protesting against the wearing of masks at school and social distancing measures. Their mission? “Rekindling the flames of freedom” in establishments accused of wanting to deprive children of this sacrosanct freedom under the guise of fighting the coronavirus.

Crusades against “impious” books and the LGBT+ community

When the health crisis came to an end, these “Moms for Liberty” rebounded by becoming crusaders against “godly” books. A book in which we mentioned the reproduction of seahorses? To ban. A comic in which two teenagers sleep in the same bed? Too “explicit”, and therefore to make disappear too.

On the other hand, the controversial book “The Making of America” ​​is at the top of the list of books recommended by the “Moms for Liberty”. This history compendium from the 1980s claims, among other things, that the owners of the cotton fields of the southern United States were the “greatest victims of slavery”.

Their hatred of the current education system, which they describe as “Marxist”, has led them to demand the dismantling of the Ministry of Education, but also that the teachers’ unions be treated as terrorist organisations.

But this group of ultra-conservative mothers has also found another hobbyhorse: chasing away anything pro-LGBT. They denounce, for example, all teachers suspected of any sympathy whatsoever for the cause of homosexuals as “dangerous predators who want to ‘sexualize’ children”, underlines the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Their pursuit of sexual minorities is not limited to classrooms. They call “mental illness normalized by sexual predators” anything that strays from their sacrosanct heterosexual model. Twitter even temporarily closed the “Moms for Liberty” account in 2022 for homophobia.

A dazzling success on the far right

Beyond the ideology advocated by these women, the SPLC is especially concerned about the speed with which the “Moms for Liberty” have gained influence in conservative circles. “They are often compared to the ‘Moral Majority’ movements of the 1980s. [très influent sous la présidence de Ronald Reagan, NDLR] and the Tea Party [mouvement libertarien anti-Obama, NDLR]“, reports the Washington Post.

They have already succeeded in making their national convention – which is only in its second edition – one of the obligatory passages of the heavyweights of the Republican Party. All of the conservative candidates for the 2024 presidential election – starting with Rond DeSantis and Donald Trump – will speak at the “Moms for Liberty” high mass to be held in Philadelphia on June 29 to July 2.

This rise of the group in the conservative galaxy, “metazzling” according to The New Yorker magazine, owes a lot to early support from certain historical figures of the American far right.

Indeed, in January 2021, when the group has only been around for a few weeks and has only a handful of members in Florida, the founders of “Moms for Liberty” were the guests of honor on the radio show of Rush Limbaugh, one of the most influential voices on the right of the Republican Party. A month later, Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson speaks of these “angry mothers”.

The ultra-conservative American right had everything to gain from seeing this movement grow. The activism of these women on school boards is of utmost importance to Republicans. It is, on the one hand, to demonstrate that one can be a woman while being very right: Donald Trump, like his main rival on the right Ron DeSantis, “have always had trouble seducing the electorate feminine”, recalls the magazine The New Republic.

On the other hand, “we have often tended to underestimate the role of education issues in the process of mobilizing conservative voters in modern America”, explained to France 24, in April 2023 Robert Mason, specialist in American politics and the history of the Republican Party at the University of Edinburgh. These school boards “are very important places of politicization for conservatives”, added then Tamara Boussac, specialist in the United States at the University of Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne. The Republican Party hopes that these “Moms for Liberty” will become a massive recruiting weapon.

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