The overwhelming feeling at the Moms for Liberty conference in Philadelphia last weekend was joyfulness, which is interesting for an organization that was started and stoked in 2021 by so much anger and outrage at our education system.
The paradox is fructive, both in that it shows us how the group so quickly became the new grassroots of the conservative movement, and why their message has been so persuasive.
On the two floors of the elegant hotel where the event took place were to be seen bright floral dresses mixed with hugs and laughter as attendees met and mingled. Many it appeared were experiencing that oh-so-modern phenomenon of meeting a social media friend for the first time in real life.
There was also something of a secretive nature to the affair as, for example, the media, for the most part, were not allowed into the breakout sessions where strategy was discussed, but can you really blame them for this?
The left and their media allies piled on with a bizarre and ridiculous claim that Moms for Liberty supports the ideology of Hitler. At best this take is insane, at worst it is malicious and politically driven. When I asked the chair of that Florida chapter what she made of the backlash, she smiled, shook her head and said, “They just lie.”
And this really is the crux of the problem. Much of the left has decided that certain conversations touching on identity simply cannot be had, even if that conversation is central to public policy.
Perfectly reasonable positions, like not exposing young children to sexually explicit images are forbidden, leaving frustrated, often furious parents powerless to have a say in their kids’ education. The members of Moms for Liberty I spoke to simply will not accept this. They do not accept that worrying about your kids is hatred.
Many of the moms and dads I spoke with had run for their local school boards in states from Florida to Pennsylvania and Indiana to name just a few. When I asked one woman how her chapter of Moms for Liberty operates, she told me, “We mainly organize around local elections, that’s where change happens.”
2024 presidential candidate gives remarks at Moms for Liberty’s Joyful Warriors National Summit in Philadelphia on June 30, 2023. (Fox News Photo/Joshua Comins)
This hyper-focus on the local was evident in how little talk there seemed to be about the 2024 GOP nomination, even at a conference that had impressively drawn almost all the major figures in the race, Donald Trump, Ron DeSantis, Vivek Ramaswamy and Nikki Haley. The general attitude I heard was that most people liked all of them.
Many were stoic, I heard a lot of, “water off a duck’s back” or “badge of honor,” but not all. Some admitted that it did hurt, especially at first, that having such vile rhetoric hurled at them did have an impact.
And why should it not? Why would an assault of slurs from the left at the right be any less emotionally harmful than the other way around? Of course, it hurt. But as one woman told me, “I know I’m not any of those things, and I just pray for the protesters.”
Speaking of those protesters, they were, for the most part, that strange kind of political activist who tries to shut down anyone covering them and their message. When you do find someone willing to be interviewed it is thwarted almost immediately by black bloc Antifa types who block your camera.
Protesters descend on Philadelphia as former President Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis give remarks at ‘Moms for Liberty”s ‘Joyful Warriors National Summit’. (Fox News Photo/Joshua Comins)
One older man I spoke to was a perfect embodiment of this. His sign called Moms for Liberty fascists. I said, “Why do you think they are fascists?” He said I should ask his wife, who wasn’t there, because she is a librarian.
I persisted, basically saying, “If you’re calling someone a fascist shouldn’t you at least know why?” “Again,” he replied, “she knows more about it.”
This is doubtless the attitude that many in the mainstream had as they covered the conference. You could see the suspicion in their eyes as media credentials were picked up. After all, this was a real live hate group, right? The journalists were ready to expose the bigots.
When Moms for Liberty is given a free and fair platform, when people actually hear them out instead of hurling insults at them, their message is effective. It resonates, even with those predisposed to oppose them, and obviously, the vociferous critics and protesters know this too.
During one protest a leader of the Young Communists took to the microphone to say, “There is no room for these conversations in Philadelphia,” and that really summed it up. These leftists aren’t afraid of the conversation because it’s harmful or legitimizing. They are afraid because their own arguments don’t stand up.
The greatest contribution that Moms for Liberty has made in its brief existence is not just demanding to ask important questions, demanding that progressives answer them, but also giving millions of Americans across the nation the courage and backup to do the same.
One got the sense these three days in the nation’s birthplace that this organization is just getting started, that its righteous fire is spreading fast, and that anyone trying to get between them and their kids should know they won’t stop fighting until that threat is gone.