Vote to Keep Extremism Out of Our Schools
We must continue to educate, organize and mobilize beyond Nov. 2 to roll back the right-wing radicalization of our communities and school boards.
Writing a regular column for the Bucks County Courier Times and The Intelligencer (and this complementary newsletter) has largely compelled me to become a right-wing extremism beat reporter unmasking, or rather unhooding, the menacing radicalization of the Pennsylvania First District’s grassroots GOP. In my first, introductory piece for the papers in March I promised:
“My column will serve as a megaphone for local progressive voices, progressive concerns, and progressive solutions.”
You spoke to me, I listened, then I wrote.
This election is critical. There is a right-wing putsch being funded, organized and executed by far-right oligarchs and organizations to take over school boards.
Locally, we have self-described “extreme” organizations like ReOpen Bucks, whose leader and Trump supporter Josh Hogan, thinks the group’s members are the "righteous, clean, normative people" of the district. They’ve assembled mobs who “dug up fence posts and yell at officers on playgrounds.” The group’s disciples have also used incendiary language to whip its base into a frenzy, proclaiming at school board meetings that masking students amounts to child abuse, is akin to the Holocaust, and is even a “satanic ritual.” Hogan even said he wanted to see North Penn school board members’ “bodies hanging from lamp posts” because concerned about student and community safety they voted for virtual learning.
ReOpen Bucks has endorsed and supported Republican candidates who align with the group’s values. Here are a few:
And Lisa Sciscio, who gets her medical advice from the far-right propaganda outlet One America News (sic) Outlet.
Not surprisingly, the local Three Percent Militia, the Proud American Patriots Network, also supports many of the same candidates as ReOpen Bucks in Central Bucks School District.
Here is what the militia’s leader T.J. Kosin, a combat veteran, told the Bucks County Courier Times about masking:
Here’s what he thinks about vigilante Kyle Rittenhouse:
Rittenhouse shot and killed two protesters, and injured a third. Yes, imagine what a combat vet and 4 or 5 of his militia buddies could do.
In Pennridge School District you have grassroots Republican leader David Bedillion say at a recent school board meeting: "The Southern Poverty Law Center is certainly not a balanced organization at least for a lot of individuals in this community."
Bedillion also is a leader in the misnamed group Pennridge for Educational Liberty. As I reported in my article “Bucks County youth must rise up to defend education”:
Given the words and actions of Bucks County Republican grassroots leaders like Hogan, Kosin, Bedillion, and their followers, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Pennsbury Democratic School Board members received vile hate mail that included death threats, and xenophobic, anti-semitic, and transphobic hate. And given the state of the Republican Party in general, this shouldn’t come as a surprise:
Whatever the outcome of the election, one thing is clear: We need to ramp up local organizing efforts to build more infrastructure and map out strategy, tactics, and best practices moving forward. Even if we sweep all the elections, sadly highly unlikely, this problem isn’t going away any time soon.