The mainstream media have informed us that Moms for Liberty is, to quote the Southern Poverty Law Center, an “anti-government extremist” organization. In these pages a few weeks ago, the Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara of the Campaign for Southern Equality warned readers that “a dangerous new reality is playing out” in our state.
Do tell. “The extremist far right,” Beach-Ferrara writes, “fueled by the fever dreams of groups such as Moms for Liberty … is forcing through its wish list of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation” in the General Assembly.
In the midst of these (and innumerable other) dire warnings from progressives comes news that Moms for Liberty (M4L) is organizing a new chapter right here in our backyard. Just how alarmed should we be?
At great risk to my impeccable reputation as a journalist (not to mention my personal safety), I was determined to find out. I requested a sit-down with the chair of the upstart Guilford County chapter of Moms for Liberty. I assumed, based on the reporting of multiple news organizations, that our conversation would be subversive, possibly even treasonous.
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I braced myself for a discussion of unsavory topics: the splendor of white supremacy, how to most effectively oppress the LGBTQ+ community, M4L’s book-burning list, and maybe even an overview of its insurrection plans.
So, we met under cover of darkness, after midnight, at an undisclosed location. The chair of M4L-Guilford arrived in a black Chevy Tahoe, escorted by three burly, camouflage-clad men carrying automatic assault weapons.
Well, I’m exaggerating a bit, as are M4L’s liberal critics. In fact, we met at a coffee shop on New Garden Road in broad daylight. Maria Adams, chair of the MFL-Guilford chapter, arrived alone, without an armed escort.
Not a caricature
Who is Adams, and what qualifies her to serve as chair of M4L-Guilford? If you believe the media’s caricature of M4L–belligerent, obnoxious and antagonistic, you’re profoundly mistaken. She is anything but. In fact, she finds off-putting the vitriolic, “red meat” style of rhetoric typical of modern political discussion. She is soft-spoken, but highly articulate.
Adams is an eclectic blend of Vietnamese, Native American and Caucasian. She attended Parkland High School in Winston-Salem but has spent nearly the entirety of her adulthood in Guilford County. She has a degree in housing and interior design from UNCG, but most importantly she has two school-aged children.
Adams owns a successful business, and routinely volunteers with Habitat for Humanity among other organizations. A mean-spirited, right-wing extremist she is not.
Adams also is a member of state Superintendent Catherine Truitt’s Parent Advisory Commission, whose objectives are not unlike those of M4L.
If Maria Adams were a successful “community organizer” of the left-wing variety, we would have read a half-dozen glowing profiles about her principled leadership and uncommon valor; about her willingness, as a powerful woman, to speak truth to power.
The membership of her chapter has grown tenfold in the last six months. (For information on joining, email firstname.lastname@example.org) Across the nation, conservative politicians — Ramaswamy, Trump and DeSantis included — actively seek the favor of M4L. That’s newsworthy.
But Adams, as a community organizer on the right, is an enigma to local reporters. The principles she champions — limited government, individual liberty and parental rights in education— are not fashionable among journalists. Therefore, they studiously ignore her.
I asked Adams what inspired her, a previously apolitical person, to launch a chapter of M4L in Guilford. The trigger, she says, was the catastrophically misguided closure of public schools, which was followed by the absurdity of mask mandates for students — including her own children.
Her son has a medical condition that prohibits the wearing of a mask, so, when GCS mandated the wearing of facial diapers (my term, not hers), Adams inquired about obtaining an exemption. The process, she discovered, was a time-consuming, bureaucratic nightmare. It also would have required Adams to grant GCS access to her son’s medical records, and she wasn’t willing to do that. She withdrew her son and enrolled him in a charter school, where the exemption was swiftly granted.
Adams was deeply disturbed by the mask mandate because it “negated parental consent.” In her view (and that of M4L), “Any policy, mandate, or rule that takes away the fundamental right of parents to direct the medical care of their children is unconstitutional and unethical.”
Of course, she wants parents to be aware of what their kids are learning in school. But, is that some kind of parental right?
“Yes!” Adams says. “Parents have a fundamental right to the upbringing of their children. And that includes their education.”
A mainstream view
Is this an “extreme” notion? Well, no. It’s a majority opinion. A McLaughlin & Associates poll conducted in May found that 70% of Americans believe parents “should have the ultimate say” in what their children are taught.
Yes, but doesn’t M4L want to ban any books that are racier than, say, the Harry Potter series? Actually, they don’t want to ban any books; they do, however, want restrictions on what books are available to young children in public schools. This is not unlike the system we use to rate movies: PG, R, etc. (Parents are of course free to purchase, privately, any books they deem fit for their children.)
M4L-Guilford’s Curriculum and Book Review Committee is examining reading materials available in GCS, and will report its findings in the next few months. Adams says there are, indeed, some problematic books in the system, but she will defer to the committee to provide specifics.
Regardless, despite the media hysteria, M4L will neither conduct book-burnings, nor advocate for book bans.
The surging interest in M4L is not difficult to comprehend: It speaks for the majority of parents.
“We believe public schools should be neutral places of learning, not indoctrination centers for social, behavioral or cultural agendas,” Adams says.
What’s the ideal scenario for student success?
“Engaged parents,” Adams says, “a partnership between teachers and parents, transparent communication from administration, and parent/student-focused policies from elected officials.”
Perhaps we should consider the possibility that “the extremist far left” (to borrow the rhetorical style of the Rev. Beach-Ferrara) has, for its own political ends, mischaracterized and demonized Moms for Liberty.