As the House debated a Republican bill that would unleash a flood of racist, far right abuse on schools and children across the U.S., Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) delivered a fiery speech on Thursday condemning Republicans for their clear embrace of fascism.
The bill, which passed the House largely on party lines on Friday morning, would force schools to disclose their curriculum and library catalogs to parents, and would also order schools to out LGBTQ children to their parents — even if such a move would put the child in danger of abuse.
Introduced following a rash of book bans in Republican-led states and districts, the bill takes the next step in advancing fascism across the country; if it were passed, it would more than likely ignite a huge wave of book bans and attacks on educators across the country while also further terrorizing trans children in a time of widespread attacks on their rights.
Ocasio-Cortez condemned Republicans for the clear fascism on display in the bill.
“What we are seeing here today is the Republican Party’s attempt to take some of the most heinous legislation that we are seeing passed on the state level to attack our trans and LGBTQ [communities] as well as people from marginalized communities’ right to exist in schools,” she said. “This flowery language of quote, unquote parental rights and freedom hides the sinister fact of this legislative text.”
The bill has no chance of passing the Democratically-controlled Senate, but it is a show of the right’s increasing embrace of fascism. Though the bill is dubbed the Parents Bill of Rights, it is far from being about parents, as the current attacks on public school curricula and children’s books have shown.
The widespread attacks on books are in reality a coordinated astroturfing campaign being fueled by deep-pocketed conservative groups that have built a network of activists to angrily disrupt school board meetings, attack educators and intimidate schools into bending to their will.
In some ways, when it comes to book bans, whipped-up conservative parents are a front for Republicans’ empowerment of the far right activist groups seeking to destroy public education, attack LGBTQ and Black history and dismantle foundations of knowledge across the country in order to advance their white, Christian nationalist vision of society.
“Before [Republicans] claim that this is not about banning books and not about harming the LGBT community, let’s just look at the impact of similar Republican legislation that has already passed on the state level. Look at these books that have already been banned due to Republican measures,” she said, holding up several children’s books. “The Life of Rosa Parks. This, apparently, is too ‘woke’ by the Republican Party[‘s standards]. Song of Solomon is unacceptable to Republican politics.”
She pointed out that the National Parents Union, a national coalition of parent organizations, and the American Library Association, which promotes and supports libraries and library education, are opposed to the bill.
“When we talk about progressive values,” Ocasio-Cortez concluded, referring to Republicans’ arguments that educators are forcing progressive politics onto children, “I can say what my progressive value is, and that is freedom over fascism.”
Democrats have dubbed the Republicans’ dangerous bill as the “Politics Over Parents Act” and emphasized that the bill is not about schools forcing progressivism onto children.
“This legislation has nothing to do with parental involvement, parental engagement,” House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-New York) said on the House floor on Thursday. “It has everything to do with jamming the extreme MAGA Republican ideology down the throats of the children and the parents of the United States of America.”