Tina Descovich found herself surrounded by “Muslim dads.” The scene was a school-board meeting late last year in Dearborn, Mich. Local parents were angry about sex-themed books at the school library, which they regarded as “pornography.”
After chatting with Ms. Descovich for a few minutes, a Dearborn dad realized she was a founder of Moms for Liberty, a nonprofit parents’ rights group that came into being on Jan. 1, 2021. He shook his head and told her she didn’t “seem like a racist at all.”
“That’s because I’m not,” she replied.
With its dogged focus on school reform, hostility to teachers unions and opposition to Covid shutdowns and mandates, the group is hated on the left and typecast as far-right—or worse—by much of the media. I speak with Ms. Descovich, a 49-year-old mother of five, at Moms for Liberty’s headquarters here, between Miami and Jacksonville. Seated with her is Tiffany Justice, 44, the group’s co-founder and a mother of four. The modest office has no external signage to identify its occupants. Both women have received such a deluge of threats—by email, voicemail and even handwritten letters—that there’s a deputy at the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office whose main job is to review each one. “Someone calling himself Satan writes to me every week,” Ms. Descovich says wryly. “He lives in Denver.”
A more influential antagonist is the Southern Poverty Law Center. The SPLC, founded in 1971, has a storied history of fighting the Ku Klux Klan via civil lawsuits and cooperation with law enforcement. The media uncritically describe it as a civil-rights group, even though in recent decades its has shifted its focus to smearing conservative organizations as hate groups.
In June it labeled Moms for Liberty as “extremist” and “antigovernment.” It stated in a report titled “The Year in Hate and Extremism 2022” that the organization’s “primary goals” are to “fuel right-wing hysteria and to make the world a less comfortable or safe place” for students who are “Black, LGBTQ or who come from LGBTQ families.”
“The reading proficiency rates we have in America right now pose the greatest national-security threat of anything for the future of this country.