October 3, 2023

Steve Corbin: Conservatives attacking Americans’ First Amendment rights

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Steve Corbin is a professor emeritus of marketing, University of Northern Iowa. At Fulcrum, he notes the surge in conservative o0pposition to reading.

Moms for Liberty (MFL) may be the most cited right-wing extremist group. Founded in 2021, MFL is referred by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) as an anti-government and conspiracy propagandist group of 120,000 members in 285 chapters throughout 44 states who, among many beliefs, are anti-LGBTQIA, anti-gender identity and anti-inclusive educational curriculum, which includes school pedagogy, social emotional learning and books. MFL has been featured on the Rush Limbaugh Show, Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight, Glenn Beck Program, Newsmax and Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly’s show. MFL is associated with several chapters of the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, 3 Percenters, Gays Against Groomers and GOP’s affiliated Heritage Foundation.

It’s quite ironic that MFL touts they are for liberty, yet are willing to strip others of their liberty to read books of interest. The American Library Association reveals of the 2,571 book titles banned for censorship in 2022, 58% were targeted for schools and 41% were aimed for adults in public libraries. Hence, the organization is not only attacking students’ First Amendment rights but also 78% of Americans who are adults. No Left Turn in Education (NLTIE) urges parents to ban LGBTQIA rights and books categorized as anti-racism, anti-police, critical race theory and comprehensive sexuality education since those concepts don’t align with their autocratic agenda. Nicole Neily, president of Parents Defending Education (PDE), has been described as a “veteran political operative affiliated with the Koch network.” PDE is a group of “corporate school privatizers going hard right to attack school boards, superintendents, principals and teachers” (Media Matters for America, Nov. 12, 2021).

According to the American Library Association’s Intellectual Freedom Blog, “No Left Turn in Education, PDE and Moms for Liberty share inflammatory claims about `radical agendas’ to disguise their desire to engage in censorship and government control of intellectual freedom.” Book banning narrows students’ cultural understanding, world view and critical thinking capability.

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