Senators urge MOAR to cancel Moms for Liberty event

Front of the museum of the American Revolution.
The Museum of the American Revolution. (Photo: Jason Villemez)

Last week, several Philadelphia area state senators sent a letter to the CEO of the Museum of the American Revolution, requesting that the museum cancel an event scheduled to be held at their venue by far right-wing advocacy organization, Moms for Liberty.

M4L has recently been designated as an extremist group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, on par with the Proud Boys, with which M4L maintains close ties. The group will be holding its second national convention, called the “Joyous Warriors National Summit,” at the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown June 29-July 2. They will also be holding a “Welcome to Philadelphia” reception at MOAR on June 29.

Both the Marriott and MOAR have been — and will be — subjected to multiple demonstrations protesting the presence of M4L at those locations.

Last month, several state legislators wrote a letter of concern to the Marriott, suggesting it might be everyone’s benefit if the hotelier withdrew from hosting the summit. In its response, the Marriott politely declined the suggestion.

The Philadelphia Senate Delegation addressed the June 20 letter to Dr. R. Scott Stephenson, President and CEO of MOAR, asking him in no uncertain terms to cancel the M4L event at the museum. The letter goes on to explain graphically the toxic history, reputation and agenda of M4L.

“The spirit of Philadelphia is one of liberty, inclusivity and solidarity,” State Sen. Nikil Saval, the primary author of the letter, told PGN. “The Museum’s decision to host this event gives a platform to a hate group known for its use of threatening and violent rhetoric and its strong ties to national anti-LGBTQ groups and right-wing public officials. They seek to undermine personal freedoms and erode our public institutions. This is counter to all that our city stands for. I am so proud to join my fellow legislators and all our constituents in rejecting this hatred and division and instead [work] for all our neighbors to have what they need to thrive.”

The letter reads, in its entirety:

“Dear Dr. Stephenson:

“We, the undersigned members of the Philadelphia Senate Delegation, urge the Museum of the American Revolution cancel the upcoming Moms for Liberty event scheduled for June 29, 2023.

“Moms for Liberty, put plainly, is a hate group. This is not hyperbole — on June 6, 2023, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) designated Moms for Liberty a hate group, and specifically, as an ‘anti-government extremist group.’ SPLC went so far as to compare Moms for Liberty to the pro-segregationist parent groups that formed in the wake of Brown v. Board of Education.

“This designation and comparison to the white supremacists of the mid-20th century are well-deserved. Moms for Liberty has pushed legislation and policies that whitewash K-12 curriculum by removing discussions of systemic racism, banning books by Black, brown, and LGBTQ+ authors, and prohibiting the discussion of gender identity and sexual orientation in K-12 education.

“Moreover, the group and its members have increasingly used violent and threatening rhetoric against those they perceive as enemies. Their members have demanded schools place LGBTQ+ students in separate classrooms. In New Hampshire, the group offered a bounty for any teacher caught breaking a state law around teaching ‘critical race theory,’ which, of course, is not taught in grade school. And their rhetoric turns especially violent when discussing race, gender, and sexuality. One Arkansas member threatened to shoot a school librarian who refused to ban certain books from the library.

“It is essential for cultural institutions, like the Museum of the American Revolution, to carefully consider the impact and implications of the organizations they choose to host. Moms for Liberty, as a far-right extremist group with strong ties to high-ranking elected officials and national anti-LGBTQ groups, formed for the explicit purpose of promoting a hateful ideology in our public schools, exists in opposition to the stated mission of the museum and its values of integrity, empathy, and stewardship and sustainability. Hosting a hate group at the Museum of the American Revolution sends the message that the museum endorses these views, undermining its role as a bastion of historical accuracy, enlightenment, and inclusivity. Your choice to host Moms for Liberty contradicts the inclusive spirit that Philadelphia stands for, as the group propagates discriminatory views that can alienate Black, brown, and LGBTQ+ individuals and their loved ones.

“As elected representatives of the people of Philadelphia, it is our duty to promote an inclusive environment that celebrates and honors our diverse backgrounds and fosters a sense of belonging for all residents. The Museum of the American Revolution has always been regarded as an important space for promoting education, understanding, and dialogue about our nation’s history. It is crucial that events held within its premises align with these values and contribute positively to our community.

“The Museum’s leadership has demonstrated a lack of judgment in agreeing to host a hate group. Fortunately, the mistake can be fixed with a simple and elegant solution: cancel the Moms for Liberty event scheduled for June 29. We look forward to your prompt action.”

In addition to Sen. Saval (1st Dist.), the other signatories to the letter were Christine M. Tartaglione (2nd Dist.), Anthony H. Williams (8th Dist.), Sharif Street (3rd Dist.) and Vincent J. Hughes (7th Dist.).

Sen. Tartaglione’s office provided this statement to PGN: “We need to be 100% clear. Hate has no place here in Pennsylvania. I am proud to stand with my colleagues to denounce this event and to call on our cultural and historic institutions to prohibit hate groups from sharing their vitriol in our communities, especially from such important locations.”

As of presstime, the Museum of the American Revolution has not responded to the senators’ letter.

“We haven’t yet sent our response to the senators but will keep in touch,” museum spokesperson Alex McKechnie said in an email to PGN.

Sen. Saval is expected to speak at the demonstration protesting the summit’s opening day at the Marriott the morning of June 30. Several local and state elected officials are also expected to attend. There is also a demonstration scheduled for the Museum of the American Revolution for the evening of June 29, to coincide with the M4L event there.

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