July 8, 2023

Steve Nuzum: I Watched the Moms for Liberty Conference…

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Steve Nuzum watched some of the M4L soiree and blogged about some of the highlights.

After a few minutes, Justice came out again to introduce South Carolina Superintendent of Education Ellen Weaver, Oklahoma Superintendent of Education Ryan Walters, Florida Department of Education Commissioner Manny Diaz, and Jacob Oliva, former interim Commissioner of Education in Florida/ current Secretary of the Arkansas Department of Education.

Ryan Walters, addressing the Moms for Liberty audience: “You are the most patriotic group in the country”. Walters got some of the few legitimate pre-Trump cheers of the day with lines about “radical teacher unions,” and said, with an absolutely straight face, “This is the most important conference to happen in Philadelphia since 1776.” (Walters liked this line so much that he retweeted it the next day.)

Walters’ most consistent talking point was that public educators are “forcing socialism and Marxism” in the classroom, and this made him, predictably, the most enthusiastically Moms for Liberty person on the panel, and the most blatant adherent of the “cultural Marxism” conspiracy theory.

Ellen Weaver, not to be outdone, said, “I truly believe that saving our country starts with saving our schools… That is what the radical, woke Left is after.” (She was still outdone: this group was definitely much more into Walters’ brand of open extremism and Christian nationalism than it was in Weaver’s political-operative-cosplaying-as-church-lady schtick.

In terms of reading the actual room, Weaver didn’t really understand the assignment, trying to score points with the more extreme elements while also addressing home-turf criticisms that no one in Moms for Liberty is likely to care much about. She told the crowd, “My path to this job was not through a conventional education pathway.” That’s an understatement: Weaver has zero educational experience, was appointed to an oversight committee by a now-disgraced state legislator convicted in a corruption scandal, and was handed a “think tank” leadership role by former SC Senator Jim “gay people shouldn’t be teachers” DeMint.

“So many people told me, you’re not qualified for this job,” Weaver continued, as if that were proof that she had overcome something, instead of proof that the powerful and well-connected will generally find support from the powerful and well-connected.

Later in the conversation, Weaver would smugly ask the crowd, “I just have a question for you. Do you know what a woman is?” as if suddenly realizing that the crowd needed its Two Minutes Hate.

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