AUSTIN, Texas (TND) — While speaking about how to combat anti-Semitism, Vice President Kamala Harris's husband, first gentleman Doug Emhoff, likened the hate that led to the Holocaust to the frustrations of parents at school board meetings.
Emhoff, who is Jewish, made the remarks at SXSW in Austin, Texas, on Wednesday, while recounting a recent trip to a concentration camp.
I met one woman who was saved in the Holocaust in Germany, settled in Ukraine, and is now a refugee again back in Berlin," Emhoff recalled to Symone Sanders, a former aide to Vice President Kamala Harris, who was leading the interview.
This hate is interconnected," he continued. "You see it in the discourse in the country right now. You see it in the divide that we have. Just going to school meetings you see that hate that is out there."
Emhoff's comments come amid an uptick in parent participation in their children's education following the pandemic. The move to virtual learning is said to have made parents much more aware of what their children were being taught in schools.
As a result, disgruntled parents have become a much more common sight at school board meetings.
Republicans in Congress have scrutinized a Department of Justice memo calling on the FBI to investigate alleged threats to school board officials. The memo came after a major education association suggested parents at school board meetings posed a "domestic terrorism" threat.
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We've got to step up and speak out, and we've got to call out the cowards out there," Emhoff added Wednesday. "You can't be in leadership if you're not going to lead, and you can't be in leadership if you aren't going to call out things that you know are wrong -- that you obviously know are wrong. And that includes not speaking out on anti-Semitism, but also not speaking out on trying to overthrow the government, trying to ban books — all these things that are ridiculous and that a vast majority of people in this country disagree with."
Parents Defending Education President Nicole Neily told The National Desk (TND) that the rhetoric used by Emhoff not only "dishonors" the memory of the 6 million lives that were lost during the Holocaust, but also serves to "misrepresent" the motivations and rights of so many Americans.
The First Amendment guarantees Americans the right to petition their government for a redress of grievances - of which parents have many, as a result of union-imposed school closures," Neily insisted. "Civic engagement is one of the defining features of our democracy, and those who choose to engage with their elected officials do not deserve to be mocked or vilified."