A major problem with news reporting on bills in front of the legislature is that the proposed laws are often promoted by particular legislators or activists known locally, but not state-wide. NC’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, dubbed the “Parents’ Bill of Rights” by its sponsors, is a good example - both Amy Galey and Julie Page aren’t particularly prominent outside of the counties where they’ve been active. So, their statements as “concerned parents” pushing the bill can’t be viewed in the full context of their previous record.
Either the media doesn’t want to bother giving us this information or deems it irrelevant. And, time after time, the NC GOP has taken advantage of this, using lower profile spokespersons to promoting extreme measures and sometimes using the efforts as “test beds” for “rising stars” within the NC GOP leadership.
And that’s particularly important with the proposed “Don’t Say Gay”/“Parents’ Bill of Rights” law. We have two women, representing themselves as “concerned Moms”, but seemed more agitated about their own broader far-right obsessions.
Amy Galey, Rising NC GOP “Star”
Amy Galey is well known to the people of Alamance and Guilford counties and has been described among right-wing press and blogs in the state as one of the NC GOP’s “rising stars” since she started making her mark as Chair of the Alamance County Board of Commissioners. She won her position as state Senator for District 25 in 2022 in an area that supported Trump 54-45 in 2020.
Over the past few years, there have heated protests for removal of the Confederate statue in Graham, NC, with a local extremist group ACT BAC NC, joining with Neo-Confederates staging demonstrations in support of the statue. (A prominent figure at one ACT BAC NC protest was Kyle Rogers of the Council of Conservative Citizens, a far-right hate-group that “opposes all effort to mix the races of mankind”.). Allowing the supporters free reign to march and intimidate locals, right-wing Alamance Sheriff Terry Johnson tried to limit protests by groups trying to get rid of the statue and was knocked down in a lawsuit brought by the NAACP.
Galey, as Chair of the Alamance County Board of Commissioners, not only ignored calls from citizens and the press in the county to do something about the statue and the violent threats and intimidation by ACT BAC and Sheriff Johnson of protestors. While saying “there was nothing they could do”, she used her Twitter feed to support Johnson, praise his work, and post photo ops with him.
In 2020, at a Commissioners meeting, she shut down an approved speaker making comments on the extremist Neo-Confederates threatening residents of the town, and had the speaker dragged out of the meeting by Johnson and his deputies The charges against the speaker were later dropped by the local District Attorney.
Also in 2020, at the height of the emerging COVID crisis, when the public health crisis closed theaters and other public events, Galey was having none of it. Even though Alamance County declared a state of emergency under guidance from state health officials, Galey met privately with Sheriff Terry Johnson and the owners of a nearby racetrack, ACE Speedway. Galey led the charge to re-open the speedway, with Johnson completely rejecting Governor Cooper’s guidance. Four thousand people attended the speedway’s first race and, for a time, the area had the highest average daily growth rate of COVID deaths in the US.
Even as the COVID crisis grew more dire, Galey advocated on Twitter, ignoring Governor Cooper and guidance from health officials to reopen schools and businesses for “business as usual”, often repeating talking points from the anti-vax movement and right-wing media outlets such as FoxNews and NewsMax.
More recently, in 2021, Galey was quoted extensively in the Washington Free Beacon, promoting a conspiracy theory about Eric Holder that was being spread by Q-Anon, saying he “bought” a seat on the NC Supreme Court to decide a redistricting case. She has also talked up this bogus theory on her Twitter feed.
The Problem with Galey
With Galey, there are questions that should be explored about her background that should be at the forefront of the conversation about the “Don’t Say Gill Bill”. A major component of the bill is giving parents rights to file endless protests against school curricula and materials.
Galey, in public statements, has painted this as just about “protecting” students from “obscene” material about LGBTQs. But, with her support for Sheriff’s Johnson’s harassment of protestors against Graham’s Confederate statue, does she see it as also “protecting” students from African-American history and promoting lies about slavery and Jim Crow?
Galey’s promotion of Q-Anon conspiracy theories is also disturbing in light of the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. Will parental involvement with content and lessons include shutting down discussion of misinformation or promoting oddball extreme right-wing fantasies in schools?
Galey’s past work to defy public health measures during a deadly pandemic also has bearing on the involvement of parents in the “heath concerns” of the children in schools. Does this also extend to parents filing endless protests about vaccinations, masking, social distancing, or school closures if there’s a rise in COVID cases or another pandemic in our future?
Julie Page, “Warrior Activist”
The other prominent public advocate talking up the “Don’t Say Gay” bill to the press, who describes her as a “concerned parent”, is the Chair of the Wake County chapter of Moms for Liberty, Julie Page.
Page has been quite active over the past few months as the main spokesperson for the group Moms for Liberty at public events. She and her group have become such pariahs that a Raleigh restaurant cancelled a reservation by Page for a “Happy Hour” for Moms for Liberty after an upheaval on social media.
One far-right website profiled Page, describing her someone who went from “”state at home Mom” to Warrior activist”, highlighting her ambitions to pack school boards with Moms for Liberty-approved candidates in the upcoming election. The web page for the Wake Moms for Liberty chapter includes endorsements for local school board candidates.
She organized a group of parents to file criminal complaints against the Wake school district because of books they said included “language and images depicting sex”. Of course, all the books were LGBTQ-related and the “sexual” content in the titles was mild or implied at best. And the books weren’t part of the curriculum, but available in some of the district’s school libraries.
Page has even publicly accused the North Carolina Association of educators of “grooming children for illicit underage sex with porn sex books in schools and gay pride events”.
During the height of the pandemic, Julie Page led the charge against school closures and masking mandates. In 2022, unhappy with new policies limiting the number of attendees at Wake School Board meetings due to the pandemic, Page held a “counter” school board meeting for her supporters across the street from the official meeting, creating a staged event for right-wing media.
Page has spoken at public meetings in support of other groups trying to remove “woke” curriculum and diversity initiatives from Wake County schools. The groups have not only called for the erasure of LGBTQs from public schools, but the removal of more direct and honest approaches to African-American issues and history around the Civil War, slavery, Jim Crow, and contemporary racial equality issues. They have spoken out against “cultural Marxism, critical race theory, gender theory, and queer theory that is dominating Wake County Public School System and many other schools around the country,
"Is the school system supposed to teach facts or feelings?" Page said at one school board meeting. "Instead of focusing on educating children, this school board seems hell-bent on being a trendy boutique for the far-left radical extremist socialist movements."
For Julie Page, “far-left radical extremist socialist movements” in schools seem to be a particular obsession. Ksung Hui, a K-12 reporter for the News and Observer, noted in his Twitter feed in March 2022 that Page charged that “Communists have infiltrated schools” at a Wake School Board meeting.
On the web page for the Moms for Liberty Wake County Chapter, there’s a link to “Wake County NC - Communist Goals 1963” in the Resources section. Clicking the link takes you to a PDF being passed around in conspiracy circles that’s an excerpt from the Congressional Record from January 1963 when Representative A.S. Herlong, Jr. of Florida read a list of “Current Communist Goals”, excerpted from “The Naked Communist” by Cleon Skousen.
Skousen founded the All-American Society in 1961, admired by members of the John Birch Society, lecturing at their events for several years.
In 1970, penned an article, “The Communist Attack on the Mormons”, decrying plans by the LDS church to ordain Blacks into its priesthood. One of his books, “The Making of America”, paints the history of slavery as independent of color or race. “Slavery is not a racial problem. It is a human problem,” he said.
In the 1980s, Skousen proposed plans eliminating the federal income tax and privatizing Social Security and advocated the repeal of the minimum wage, eliminating unions, selling off public lands and parks, repealing all anti-discrimination laws, removing church-state separation, and ending the Federal Reserve system. He also promoted conspiracy theories that the Rockefeller family and Wall Street conspired to elect Jimmy Carter president.
His books “The Naked Communist” and “The Naked Capitalist”, expanded these ideas and were (and still are) cited by many conspiracy theorists in the far-right as proof of an elite class of bankers creating a collectivist One World Government.
The obsession by Julie Page and the offering of this “Communist Goals” document on the Wake County chapter Moms for Liberty website makes little logical sense until you understand that Skousen’s works continue to be cited as gospel by far-right and Q-Anon figures including Glenn Beck, Rick Perry, Ben Carson, and Cliven Bundy.
A Tennessee chapter of Moms for Liberty, which challenged school books on Martin Luther King, Jr. and Ruby Bridges, the first Black child to integrate a New Orleans school, promotes Skoussen’s “The Making of America” as essential reading.
While Page has said many times in op-eds and public statements that Moms for Liberty is about “transparency”, the group itself is a dark money organization, carefully controlling its structure and organization to avoid triggering Federal and state laws that require reporting of donors, campaign coordination, or lobbying registration.
Many have compared NC’s so-called “Parental Rights” bill with Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law and with good reason. Not only are the laws similar, the main group advocating the law was founded by Republican operatives in Florida that have backed DeSantis’s war on LGBTQs and “liberal” education there. While funding for the group is uncertain, critics have noted that the group’s funding and expansion was in lock-step with the DeSantis campaign for governor.
Julie Fancelli, an heiress to the Publix supermarket fortune, has donated tens of thousands of dollars to Moms for Liberty. Fancelli’s donations and organization were a major component of the “Stop the Steal” rally on January 6, 2021 that led to the attack on the Capitol and attempted overthrow of the government.
The Problem with Julie Page
With the “Don’t Say Gay Bill”, the most visible citizen advocate for the measure isn’t a random concerned parent, but a foot soldier in a dark money group that is advocating removal of any mention of LGBTQs in schools, throwing around false obscenity charges against school and public libraries, endangering the health of kids by advocating anti-masking talking points, and promoting racist and white nationalist conspiracy theories.
Local and state media have largely overlooked the broader agenda and odd obsessions of Julie Page and Moms for Liberty. A couple of hours of Google searching is pretty jaw-dropping, revealing how far out of the mainstream Page and her group really is.
What Do You Think?
Galey and Page are certainly entitled to their abhorrent views. But that doesn’t mean that they or the extremists and conspiracy mongers they represent should dictate what our children are learning.
Is the “Don’t Say Gay” bill being sold to the public to “protect” children? Or is it really just a way to inject debunked far-right conspiracy theories and racist, white nationalist ideology into our public schools?
If you’re just finding out all of this about Amy Galey and Julie Page, would you trust them with the future of your kids?
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