Charleston Co. Moms for Liberty chapter fights inclusion on hate group list
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The Charleston County Moms for Liberty chapter chairwoman is pushing back after her group was labeled an extremist, anti-government organization by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
“We are not anti-government. We are anti-government overreach,” Moms for Liberty Charleston County Tara Wood said. “Right now, two-thirds of Americans believe the public education system is on the wrong track.”
The SPLC made the classification in its annual Year in Hate & Extremism Report that tracked 1,225 hate and extremist groups last year. Thirty of those groups are active in South Carolina, according to their data. It’s a sharp increase from last year when the SPLC tracked 17 hate groups in the state, but the increase this year is entirely made of the various Moms for Liberty organizations in 15 different counties.
“This proves that the Southern Poverty Law Center is a left-wing activist organization and they are trying to silence us and discredit the effective work that we do by name calling and labeling us because that’s all they’ve got,” Wood said. “How can you argue against parents that are asking questions and trying to do what’s best for their children?”
The designation puts Moms for Liberty on the same list as neo-Nazis, white supremacists and anti-LGBTQ+ groups. Some of the other hate organizations listed in South Carolina are the Proud Boys, the True Light Pentecost Church and the Patriot Front.
The SPLC says part of how they determine which organizations make their list is by looking at trends in how organizations operate. Rachel Carroll Rivas is the Deputy Director of Research, Reporting & Analysis at SPLC. She says they’ve seen a national trend of far-right organizations moving from federal activism to a more grassroots and localized effort.
“We have a real concern about the activities they are doing. These activities include advocating for the abolition of Department of Education, book banning and taking away teachers’ ability to direct their curriculum, as the experts they are,” Rivas said.
In SPLC’s evaluation of Moms for Liberty they claim the group is anti-teacher, anti-student and anti-LGBTQ+. They say the group’s goal is to, “fuel right-wing hysteria and to make the world a less comfortable or safe place for certain students.” SPLC officially labeled Moms for Liberty as an anti-government organization.
“We absolutely are not. We try to support constitutional candidates who love our country. We are patriots. We respect our government,” Wood said.
Their message appears to resonate with parents. In the last election, Moms for Liberty candidates won 5 of the 9 seats on the Charleston County School Board.
There are no left-wing organizations listed among the hate and extremist groups in South Carolina. Rivas says they specifically look at the far-right movement and says part of their process is hearing from minority communities and organizations that are being harmed by these groups.
“We have a really strict protocol for how we do our research, but also we have a mission for the people that are impacted,” Rivas said. “A mission for civil rights and democracy.”
Moms for Liberty chapters all across the nation were named in the report. Other parental rights groups are also listed. The South Carolina Parents Involved in Education organization was also listed as another anti-government group as well.
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