The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a nonprofit organization that tracks hate groups and extremism in the United States, has designated Moms for Liberty as an anti-government extremist group.
A conservative organization that advocates against school curriculums that mention LGBT rights, race, critical race theory, and discrimination, Moms for Liberty also campaigns to ban from school libraries books that address gender and sexuality issues.
The SPLC’s designation of the pro-censorship collective is based on the group’s activities and rhetoric. The SPLC found that Moms for Liberty has engaged in public demonstrations, organized protests, and spread misinformation about schools and teachers.
The group’s members have also made threats against school officials and teachers.
The SPLC’s designation of Moms for Liberty is a significant development. The group has grown rapidly in recent years and has become a major force in local school board elections.
The SPLC’s designation warning that Moms for Liberty is a dangerous group that is trying to undermine public education and promote hate is included in Year in Hate & Extremism, an annual report detailing the scope and danger of hate and antigovernment extremist groups operating within the United States.
The report documents 1,225 active groups and shows how their tactics shifted after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol — organizing locally and pursuing their agenda in venues where it is easier to gain power and strip communities of their rights and livelihoods.
“Taking on the most hateful factions in our country is critical to dismantling white supremacy and advancing the civil rights of all people,” said Margaret Huang, president and CEO of the Southern Poverty Law Center and SPLC Action Fund. “We are exposing a concerted effort by hate groups and extremist actors to terrorize communities and gain control of public institutions by any means necessary. These groups are descending on Main Street America and disrupting people’s daily lives, too often with dire consequences for communities of color, Jewish people, and the LGBTQ+ community.”
Hate groups leverage these demonstrations as a tool to recruit membership, raise funds, and intimidate and threaten Black, Brown, Jewish, and transgender communities in particular.
For example, the white nationalist group Patriot Front is one of the most active in holding demonstrations in local communities across the country. In total, the SPLC tracked 4,739 public demonstrations in 2022.
Schools are a primary target for locally driven extremist mobilization, according to the report, with 12 anti-student inclusion groups leading a movement to gain power through school boards to attack public education, ban books, and remove any curriculum that contains discussions of race, discrimination, and LGBTQ+ identities.
One group at the forefront of this mobilization is Moms for Liberty, a Florida-based group that the SPLC has designated as an anti-government extremist group in 2022.
What can be done to stop Moms for Liberty?
The SPLC has made several recommendations for how to stop Moms for Liberty and other anti-government extremist groups. These recommendations include:
- Supporting schools and teachers. Schools and teachers are on the front lines of the fight against hate and extremism. It is important to support schools and teachers by speaking out against hate and extremism, and by donating to organizations that are working to protect schools and teachers.
- Voting in local elections. Local school board elections are often won by small margins. It is important to vote in local elections and to support candidates who are committed to protecting public education.
- Contacting your elected officials. Your elected officials can play a role in protecting public education from hate and extremism. Contact your elected officials and let them know that you support public education and that you oppose hate and extremism.
- The SPLC’s recommendations are a good starting point for stopping Moms for Liberty and other anti-government extremist groups. It is important to remember that these groups are dangerous and that they are trying to undermine public education and promote hate. We must all do our part to stop them.
“Hate and antigovernment extremist groups are intent on staging public spectacles of hatred that harass, threaten and violently harm Black, Brown, Asian, Jewish, LGBTQ+ and immigrant communities,” said Susan Corke, director of the SPLC’s Intelligence Project.
“Schools, synagogues, and LGBTQ+ businesses — venues that have traditionally been safe spaces for our children, the Jewish community and LGBTQ+ people — are now on the frontlines of hatred and violence,” said Corke. “We all have a responsibility to speak out against hate, extremism, and violence when we see it, and encourage those in positions of power to fulfill their duty to act.”
One notable retreat of antigovernment extremist mobilization is in the militia movement. SPLC tracked 61 active militia groups in 2022, a decline from the 92 groups identified in 2021.
This reduction in militia mobilization is largely the result of members and leaders being held accountable for their role in the deadly Jan. 6 attack.
While recent federal convictions of members of the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys have stifled overall militia activity, the continued growth of Proud Boys membership — reaching 78 chapters in 2022 — signals that the violent threat from hard-right extremist groups persists.
SPLC’s annual report, which combines research and data collection, public polling, social media analysis, investigating reporting, and expert insights, offers a comprehensive evaluation of hate and antigovernment extremist group activities and threats to inform the public and policymakers, support impacted communities, and protect democracy.
It underscores the harm created by these groups, uplifts stories of those pushing back against malign forces, and offers resources to support community resilience. The report also provides policy recommendations to address hate and extremism where it exists, from the military to social media platforms.
Read the full report HERE.