The Patriot Game

Please pardon my politics, but this is getting personal.

My brave and beloved older daughter Darcy — aside from raising a remarkable son and helping her husband care for about a hundred beasts including chickens, cows, donkeys, horses, cats, dogs, deer, and whatever else wanders onto their property—is an administrator at a school district east of Tucson, AZ. Over about twenty years in the Vail District, she has taught third grade, been a mentor teacher, an elementary school principal, a high school vice-principal and principal, and creator of a high school that gained national praise for its mix of both academic and vocational education.

No job dealing with students or parents of students is one for the faint of heart, even in the best of times. And now, last week, she was standing at the doorway of a meeting room at the district office, passing out school board meeting agendas, when a mob of a hundred or so showed up, plenty of them carrying guns, and more or less shoved their way into the board room. Some were carrying on about nonsense they had misinterpreted from Roberts Rules of Order that gave them the right to overthrow the school board — which they sort of accomplished by filling the room with chaos and installing a “school board” of their own.

When a district employee called the Pima County sheriff and requested he send a deputy to bring some order to the proceedings and consider enforcing the law—since even about fifty miles from Tombstone, carrying guns on school property is forbidden—the deputies who showed up more or less shrugged, and left. And a subsequent call to the sheriff was answered by assurance that he declined to allow his officers to become involved.

Where, I wonder, are the descendants of Wyatt Earp when you need them?

Over the next few days, Steve Bannon got the news. For those readers who believe Bannon is more credible than me, here’s how the WAR ROOM website framed the evening:

“Parents in Vail, Arizona have had enough of the mask tyranny against their kids in school.

“Carrie Liebich, a mom and author explains how parents simply standing together forced the Board of Education to flee. Liebich said the movement started with just two parents, but quickly they found hundreds of people just like them who’ve had enough of the mask mandate hurting their kids.” (1)

“Stephen K. Bannon said this could be the shot heard round the world. ‘This is how it starts. It’s Vail, Arizona that could light the match.’” (2)

And a headline from the Blaze Media website reads. “‘Let our children breathe!’: Arizona school board flees as angry parents demand lift of mask mandate for kids.”

A message from me to Bannon and Blaze: My Darcy doesn’t “flee” from anything. In fact, the “patriot” mob so filled the room with shouting, Darcy led the legitimate board to the room next door where they could talk and be heard by each other or anyone else who cared to follow them.

And far from being what Ms. Liebich described as just two parents who quickly found hundreds of supporters, among the leaders of the group were Steve Daniels of north Phoenix, chairman pro-tem of the Patriot party and chief strategist for Daniel McCarthy, who ran in the GOP primary against Senator Martha McSally. McCarthy intends to run for Governor in 2022 under the auspices of the Patriot Party. (3)

Another leader—this one may actually live in the Vail district—was Kelly Walker, proprietor of Viva Coffee in Vail. By the way, neither he nor any of the people mentioned above have any children in any Vail District school. Yet Walker – in addition to callers on a Phoenix radio talk show who demanded Darcy be fired – has singled her out for criticism.

Perhaps my first stop when next I go to visit will be the Viva Coffee shop.

1. Carrie Liebich’s claim to the title “author” is what appears to be an autobiography about her challenges as a mom of eight and how prayer and essential oils have redeemed her children from mental health issues. She also sells essential oils through a website.

2. Here’s fun article about what Trump and Bannon think of each other.

3. This article from the Arizona Republic summarizes the rise of the state’s “Patriot” movement.