This morning, Fox News analyst and The Hill columnist Juan Williams is the target of major criticism from conservatives on Twitter. Many of the angry tweets headed Williams' way are the result of a column he published in The Hill this morning titled, "'Parents rights' is code for white race politics." Among other things, Williams' latest piece argues that members of the GOP are using the phrase "parents' rights" as a way for school districts to rid classrooms of critical race theory and avoid discourse about the COVID-19 pandemic.
To start, Williams centers his piece in Virginia where Glenn Youngkin and Terry McAuliffe are battling to become the state's next governor. The Fox News analyst points out that Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin has been in favor of parents having the ability to dictate what books your kids will and will not study in school. Specifically, the book, Beloved by Toni Morrison, has been used as a centerpiece for the argument. The book outlines the horrors of slavery in America and many of Youngkin's supporters have argued that it should not be introduced as reading material in public schools. To drive his point home, Youngkin enlisted the help of Virginia resident Laura Murphy to participate in an ad calling for parents to have the right to decide what books that their children will and will not read.
"Now the message is that white parents are being ignored when they complain that their children are uncomfortable learning about racism. Republican advertising now fails to mention the movement in Virginia was born from opposition to advanced placement high school students reading a prize-winning novel about the horrors of slavery — Beloved by Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison," Williams wrote.
"One commercial features a white Virginia mother complaining that McAuliffe opposed a law to allow parents to have their children opt out from studying unnamed books. The mom, Laura Murphy, does not mention that she is talking about Beloved. Nor does she mention that she is a conservative activist whose son went on to intern in the Trump White House. She only offers the anodyne comment that McAuliffe doesn’t think parents should have a say. ... He shut us out.'"
Murphy's argument is not uncommon within America. There is a growing group of parents in the U.S. that feel students shouldn't address the nation's troubled history regarding racism, discrimination and slavery.
"The obscene attack on great writing is gaining strength by being paired with another GOP racial tactic aimed at scaring parents — that Virginia school children might be exposed to arguments about ongoing, systemic racism from the teaching of critical race theory. Critical race theory — broadly, a focus on racial disparities as a fact of American life — is not explicitly taught in Virginia’s public schools or anywhere in American public schools. But Republicans nationwide have made it a boogeyman to excite racial divisions and get their base to the polls," Williams articulates.
While the discussion of "parents' rights" has largely been geared toward discussions of critical race theory, it doesn't end there. Williams also points out that parents in Florida have attempted to steer teachers way from discussing anything related to COVID-19.
"In Florida, right-wing parents recently complained that fourth graders had to learn how to spell 'isolation' and 'quarantine.' The parents said those are 'scary words.' Things have gotten so bad that the National School Boards Association pleaded with the Biden administration in a September letter to use federal law enforcement to protect school board members from threats of violence and other forms of bullying," Williams continued.
Williams' words have not been met with kindness from conservatives who feel their ideologies are being attacked.
"Someone please rush Juan Williams a copy of the US Constitution, and the Pierce and Yoder decisions, stat," Newsmax contributor Jenna Ellis tweeted.
"Translated: Juan Williams is saying minority parents don't care about their children's education," Washington Times columnist Tim Young added.
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