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Republicans Target Our Children to Maintain Power into the Future

Critical Race Theory, Don’t Say Gay, Grooming, Sexualizing Children, Woke Content of Textbooks, etc. are code words meant to stoke fear and provoke grievances, especially among parents, to get-out-the-vote for the Republican Party this November.

They also plan to elect Republicans far into the future by increasing attendance in private schools controlled by ideologues, and providing more tax-payer funding of these schools, to maintain a steady supply of obedient voters. Forewarned is forearmed.

“Florida’s new Parental Rights in Education law is a ‘modest’ effort to resist the ‘indoctrination’ of students in progressive race and gender views,” former Attorney General William Barr said in a lecture at the Washington Golf & Country Club on April 27.

“He also said government vouchers, which allow families to choose the school that best fits their values, are the most efficient way to protect parents’ ‘right to raise their children’ without having to ‘pay through the nose’ for private schooling,” the Washington Times reported.

Republicans have much experience planning for future success.

When the neoconservatives took control of the party during the Reagan administration, the goal was to shift U.S. wealth to the 1%. The disparity in income between the super-rich and working Americans has continued unabated since then and has, in fact, gotten worse. During the first 17 months of the pandemic, “U.S. billionaires saw their wealth surge $1.8 trillion” according to a report from Americans for Tax Fairness and the Institute for Policy Studies Program on Inequality.

A right-wing Supreme Court

Leonard Leo of the Federalist Society “figured out twenty years ago that they needed to stack the court,” Tom Carter, Leo’s former media relations director told the Daily Beast in 2018.

“In addition to creating a vast network that serves as a counterpoint to the mainstream legal world, the Federalist Society has mainstreamed ideas that were once considered intellectual outliers: that most of the New Deal and administrative state are unconstitutional, that corporations have free speech and free religion rights, that women and LGBT people are not ‘protected classes’ under constitutional law, and that there is no right to privacy implied by the due process clause of the Constitution (i.e., banning abortion, contraception, and gay marriage are entirely constitutional).” Daily Beast reporter Jay Michaelson noted in 2018.

“Two decades ago, hardly anyone in the legal academy took these ideas seriously. Now, they are litmus tests for conservative judges,” Michaelson added.

In less than a quarter of a century, we have six right-wing Supreme Court justices. As widely reported, it was Leo who played the decisive role in the appointment of five – Roberts, Alito, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Barrett – and our freedom is in even greater peril.

In July 2021, the Supreme Court decided two major cases. In both, the 6-3 majority dealt a grievous blow against democracy. One decision “essentially gutted what’s left of the Voting Rights Act,” Nina Totenberg said on NPR. The other decision, “sided with rich donors and their desire to remain anonymous against a state law aimed at policing the finances of charities and other nonprofits,” Totenberg said in another NPR broadcast.

Republican assault on public education already underway

“Restrictions on classroom teaching have exploded across the red states since 2021. Jeffrey Sachs, a political scientist at Acadia University in Nova Scotia who tracks these proposals for PEN America, counts at least 13 Republican-controlled states that have approved laws censoring how teachers talk about ‘divisive concepts,’ such as systematic racial inequity, and five more states with GOP governors that have imposed administrative limits on such teachings through state boards of education or other bodies,” CNN reported on April 5.

“The conservatives pushing these bills portray them as a necessary barrier against liberal attempts to ‘indoctrinate’ students through concepts such as critical race theory, an academic analysis of systemic discrimination,” CNN noted.

“The level of focus and unity of language that we are seeing across all of these different bills is pretty extraordinary. There is an incredible amount of overlap, down to the punctuation of these bills, so we can definitely consider this a national campaign and not one that is responding to the specific context of each state,” Sachs told CNN.

“The parallel battles over how teachers address race, gender and sexual orientation and how libraries regulate access to books represent the broadest attempt to limit what students are taught … To a wide array of civil rights, civil liberties and free expression groups, these restrictions represent an effort to enshrine the values of one particular group of parents – conservative Whites – over the priorities and experiences of an increasingly diverse society,” CNN reported.

“More states are also considering laws that would extend the classroom censorship to public colleges and universities,” they added. 

For example, Georgia Republican Gov. Brian Kemp made a “year-long effort” to “position” former Republican governor, Sonny Perdue, as Chancellor of the University System of Georgia, as reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on April 1. “Opponents of the choice say Perdue’s appointment would jeopardize academic freedom across the system’s 26 campuses … Many, both inside and outside of academic circles, worry that Perdue’s conservative politics will set the university system on a dangerous course,” according to Georgia Public Broadcasting.

Opus Dei

No longer holding public office, William Barr’s power and influence derive from being the “endowed chair of Catholic Information Center,” as the Washington Times reported. Leonard Leo currently serves on the board of the Opus Dei-controlled CIC. Note that four of the five justices Leo placed on the Supreme Court – Roberts, Alito, Kavanaugh and Barrett – are Catholic. Gorsuch, an Episcopalian, decided twice in favor of restricting Obamacare’s contraception coverage during his time at the U.S. Court of Appeals Tenth Circuit,

Opus Dei is an official arm of the Catholic Church. It is an impenetrably secret society – even member’s names are unknown unless self-disclosed or they are listed as officials of Opus Dei organizations. Therefore, very little has been written about this very powerful group.

What little we know is this. The CIC “advances a hard-right political agenda” and is “a rallying point for ultra-conservative Catholics eager for a voice in the secular halls of government power,” Church and State, the magazine for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, stated. The CIC’s “members and leaders continue to have an outsize impact on policy and politics. Its influence is felt in all of Washington’s corridors of power,” wrote Joe Heim in the Washington Post.

Opus Dei is international, powerful and “politically committed.” “Its members control a large number of banks and financial institutions,” Martin A. Lee, author and activist who has written books and articles on far-right movements, reported. Its roots are in fascist Spain. “In the latter stages of the Franco regime, ten out of 19 cabinet officers belonged to or were closely allied with Opus Dei,” Lee stated.

At the top, Opus Dei “is an efficient machine run to achieve world power,” investigative reporter Penny Lernoux wrote in her book People of God: The Struggle for World Catholicism.

“Its members form a transnational elite. They seek to colonize the summits of power,” Robert Hutchison wrote in the introduction to his book, Their Kingdom Come: Inside the Secret World of Opus Dei. They work with stealth and practice “divine deception,” Hutchison observed. 

In the 2003 addendum to his book, Hutchison states that, in fact, Opus Dei and the Roman Catholic Church are now indivisible. This would include the Church’s global financial network anchored by the legally untouchable Vatican and the U.S. bishops’ legally hidden bank accounts. 

All religions have an IRS 501 (c)(3) classification. That means all financial activities – income, expenditures, donors, assets – can be kept secret. Additionally, contributions are tax-deductible. That is also true for Opus Dei, classified as a 501 (c)(3) religious organization and the Federalist Society,  classified as a 501 (c)(3) charitable and educational foundation.

The Opus Dei blueprint to maintain dominance

Opus Dei has found a way to maintain and increase their wealth and power that Republicans can emulate.

There are only 5 Opus Dei grade, or “prep,” schools in the U.S. according to their official website, and “Opus Dei priests occasionally provide their pastoral services informally to other schools.” In any case, the Catholic Church already has 4,853 elementary schools and 1,174 secondary schools in the U.S. according to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA).

Business Schools

Opus Dei’s focus is on graduate business schools. They “support 14 graduate business schools worldwide, including Lagos Business School in Nigeria and Ipade in Mexico,” reported Management Today, a publication for British business.

This global network of MBA institutions was the subject of a 2006 Bloomberg article: “Opus Dei’s emphasis on recruiting and training businesspeople sets it apart …. Cisco Systems, the world’s largest maker of computer networking equipment; Vodafone Group, the biggest mobile phone service company by market value; and Nokia Oyj, the top cell phone maker, all sponsor courses at [Rome’s] Centro ELIS.”

At Spain’s IESE, “PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, one of the Big Four US accounting firms, funds the jobs of some of the school’s professors. Nissan Motor, Japan’s No2 automaker; Alcatel SA, the world’s second-largest supplier of telecommunications networks; and Banco Santander Central Hispano SA, Spain’s biggest bank, also provide funding….Citigroup, the world’s biggest financial services company, and Morgan Stanley, the third-biggest US securities firm by market value, are listed as ‘supporting companies….Citigroup has sponsored student activities and backed events in IESE’s MBA program.” 

 “If we’re working with students, 30 years later they’ll be CEOs,” Opus Dei priest and Harvard graduate, John Wauck, told Bloomberg.

Recruiting the best and the brightest

As of 2006, Opus Dei had close to a hundred institutions, student residences or foundations in the U.S. “many located near prestigious schools” including MIT, Boston University, UCLA, Colombia, Harvard, Princeton, Brown University, Georgetown University, Rice University, UC Berkley, Stanford University, University of San Francisco, St. Louis University “and more,” according to the Opus Dei Awareness Network.

Opus Dei also operates the Leonine Forum “to cultivate an emerging generation of virtuous leaders (emphasis mine),” as stated on their website. The Forum has chapters in Washington DC, New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago.

The Forum asserts they have only “a close relationship” with the CIC. But “Fr. Charles Trullols, Spiritual Director and DC Chaplain of the Leonine Forum, is also Director of the CIC.” The Washington DC meetings are held at the CIC.

Among the forty five 2021-2022 Washington first-year fellows are those who work in the U.S. Senate, the Dept. of Justice, Dept. of Health and Human Services, U.S. Court of Federal Claims and the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. Others work for right-wing think tanks such as the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute. One is a Fox News employee. Forty four of the forty five are White.

Although the other chapters are more racially diverse, they are also overwhelmingly White.

The New York City meetings are held at the New York branch of the IESE Business School “located in the greatest business capital in the world” as noted on their website. 

Providing government funding into the future

“This is a court that has shown the muscular willingness of the really radicalized super majority – now there are six conservative justices – to transform the law simply because it has the votes in area after area,” said Ruth Marcus, author of Supreme Ambitions: Brett Kavanaugh and the Conservative Takeover, after the May 2nd release of Justice Alito’s draft of the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v Wade.

“Brace yourselves on a whole bunch of things on the ability of federal agencies to issue regulations” she said speaking on The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell

Marcus specifically named affirmative action and separation of church and state.

Many states have prohibitions on tax-payer funding of religious schools. Red states are already in the process of removing these prohibitions by regulations and overturning laws. According to Marcus, we should expect more federal regulation and Supreme Court rulings providing more tax-payer funding for these schools.

If we want to protect the funding and intellectual integrity of our public schools, and keep them free from right-wing censorship, we must do everything we can to vote, and help get others to the polls.

Betty Clermont is author of The Neo-Catholics: Implementing Christian Nationalism in America.

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