“One more piece of evidence of the damage to the nation’s social fabric done by-right wing conspiracy theorists, Republican lawmakers, Donald Trump, and their corporate backers is the recent unmasking of the leaders of a Nazi homeschool network in Ohio.
Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida and his right-wing acolytes there and across the country have attacked the public school system and sought book bans to control what children read in those schools. It comes as no surprise that his fascistic policies resonate with admirers in Ohio who are running their own Nazi homeschooling operation to counter the public school system.
Rather than have children learn about the cultures of all kinds of people, the children in Ohio’s new homeschooling operation learn instead how to become good Nazis.
The operation in Ohio was uncovered by anti-fascist researchers with an online group called the Anonymous Comrades Collective, local area reporters, the Huffington Post, and Vice News and has been confirmed by numerous news outlets and organizations, including People’s World, the Ohio State Education Board, and the state’s NAACP chapter.
The revelations show that while children in public schools across America were learning about the work of civil rights leader Dr. Marin Luther King, Jr., parents who allegedly know what is best for their children in the “Dissident Homeschool” network in Ohio started a lesson plan that day that opened with the words, “As Adolf Hitler wrote….”
Only a few years ago, this news would have been much more shocking than it is now. The results of years of toleration of and fomenting of right-wing extremism by Republicans has resulted in the movement of such ideas into the mainstream. So for thousands of parents in Ohio, public schools are no good, but Nazi homeschooling is apparently just fine.
The Nazi homeschooling network in Ohio has about 2,500 parent members and is reportedly growing. The lesson plan that opened with a particular writing of Hitler’s was apparently not at all unusual for the network.
“It is up to us to ensure our children know him [The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.] for the deceitful, dishonest, riot-inciting negro he actually was,” the administrator of the network’s Telegram channel wrote, alongside a downloadable lesson plan for elementary school children. “He is the face of a movement which ethnically cleansed whites out of urban areas and precipitated the anti-white regime that we are now fighting to free ourselves from.”
Since the group began in October 2021, it has put forward and defended Nazi ideology and has promoted white nationalism and white supremacy. Parents who are part of the network are strongly discouraged from allowing their children to play with or have contact with children or adults of any other race. “Our children now play with other white children where they can speak and play freely,” one poster wrote on the channel.
In chatting with one another, the administrators and members of the network openly use racist, anti-gay, and anti-Semitic slurs and slanders with no shame and replete with quotes backing up all those hateful ideas from Hitler himself.
“I am outraged and saddened,” Ohio’s interim State School Board President Stephanie Siddens said. “There is absolutely no place for hate-filled, divisive, and hurtful instruction in Ohio’s schools, including our state’s homeschooling community. I emphatically and categorically denounce the racist, anti-Semitic, and fascist ideology and materials being circulated as reported in recent media stories.”
Ohio NAACP President and former Democratic state senator Tom Roberts agreed, saying he planned to bring the matter to the attention of the National Board of Directors of the NAACP. “I was shocked. I know there are all kinds of hate and all kinds of anti-American groups out there, but for it to be taught in school is another subject altogether,” Roberts said.
The couple who runs the Dissident Homeschooling channel are doing more than simply teaching parents how to indoctrinate their children with Nazi ideology. They are arranging meetings between parent members and extreme right-wing and fascist groups with the purpose of cementing relationships among fascists. The purpose of many of these meetups is to build support for violent actions that may be called for by the fascists in the future.
The Dissident Homeschool network was run, when it started in 2021, by a husband and wife team who used the aliases “Mr. and Mrs. Saxon.” In the last two weeks, anti-fascist researchers and local reporters unmasked the couple as Logan and Katja Lawrence of Upper Sandusky, where they live with their four children.
The key clue that led to their identification came after the Lawrences themselves revealed on Facebook that they had a German Shepherd dog named Blondi, the same breed and name as the dog owned by Hitler. The researchers traced ownership of the dog to the Lawrences by using the search feature on the Wyandot County dog licensing website.
At this point, the Lawrences are not responding to multiple emails, text messages, social media messages, and phone calls from researchers, Vice News, the Huffington Post, People’s World, or anyone else apparently. The purpose of these calls and attempted contacts is to get them to discuss in more detail the contents of their homeschooling network.
What we do know, as Vice News puts it on their website, is that Katja Lawrence, who is in her mid-30s, launched the channel in October 2021 because, according to her, she “was having a rough time finding Nazi-approved school material for [her] homeschool children,” as she told the neo-Nazi podcast Achtung Amerikaner! at the time.
Lawrence agrees with Gov. DeSantis of Florida that it is parents, and certainly never public schools, that should control everything their children learn. “We have our children’s best interest at heart and nobody can do a better job than we can because it’s our child. We are so deeply invested into making sure that that child becomes a wonderful Nazi,” she said.
Originally from the Netherlands
Katja Lawrence, born Katja van den Berg, is originally from the Netherlands and moved to the U.S. after meeting her husband, Logan, at the Oktoberfest festival in Berlin, according to an old LiveJournal blog uncovered by researchers. She became a naturalized citizen in 2017, just four years before launching her Nazi educational project.
Logan Lawrence works as an agent for a local, family-run insurance agency. He is also a member of a local Masonic lodge and is seen in a number of pictures on its website, where he is listed as an officer. The secretary of the lodge has not responded to any questions about Logan or his membership from any of the publications reporting this story.
Both Katja and Logan Lawrence have a limited presence on mainstream social media platforms, and the one Facebook account that was operated by Katja was deleted once the stories about the Nazi homeschooling project surfaced.
According to Vice News, Katja Lawrence is the main poster on the Dissident Homeschool Telegram channel, providing classroom schedules, book lists, lesson plans, and other educational resources for Nazi parents.
Every lesson plan pushes racist ideology. In one “math assignment,” children were asked to interpret “crime statistics,” the goal of which was to “realize the demographics (Black people) to be cautious around.” Another lesson called “IQ Unit Study” discusses IQ scores. “The Blacks—on average—have a much lower IQ than whites,” Lawrence wrote in the introduction to the plan.
Two weeks ago, the group chat channel belonging to the Dissident Homeschool network was shut down, but Vice News was able to review an archive of the chats dating back to October 2021, showing that initially the channel was populated by a small number of core members who contributed most of the comments and content.
However, by the time the chat archive ended on Jan. 4, there were hundreds more people contributing to the conversations, and discussions had expanded from children’s education to the dangers of diversity and how “Indiana Jones” movies are nothing more than “Jewish revenge porn.”
Hatred of public education is an important part of Nazi ideology in the U.S., just as it is key to the politics of many Republicans, including former Trump administration officials who made no secret of their distrust of public schools.
One parent posting in the Nazi homeschooling group last year thanked the Lawrences for their work and explained why they agreed that public school education was not for them. “I don’t even want my kids exposed to the gay-loving, anti-family, Jew factory that is public school, I can’t stand it,” the concerned parent wrote.
Katja noted that she would not have avoided the public school system in Nazi Germany, however, because it was run by the “right people for the right purpose.”
Other parents offered their own additional resources for the Nazi curriculum, with one member writing: “Here is an overview of 10 Reasons why Hitler was one of the Good Guys.”
When one parent named Nancy recommended three preachers that the group might find interesting, another member responded: “A ni**er, a race mixer, and a guy who literally says that Israel should rule the world. You’re 0 for 3.”
Katja Lawrence then added: “Nancy, did you know you are in a chat of dissidents who fully support white nationalism? We do not support Israel and do not listen to Black preachers.”
Expanded to other countries
The members of the Telegram channel have also expanded beyond the U.S. to include members from other countries, though only those from European countries with acceptable white ethnicity, such as Norway, Germany, and the U.K., are welcomed.
At one point in the chat, Katja Lawrence told a U.K. member of the group that she would help put him in touch with the head of one of the biggest white nationalist groups in the U.K., suggesting the Lawrences have made connections with anti-Semites and white supremacists outside of their own homeschooling community.
When the Telegram channel reached its 1000th subscriber, the occasion was marked by the posting and promotion of a picture of German school children performing a Nazi salute in a classroom. In the caption, Lawrence wroe: “It fills my heart with joy to know there is such a strong base of homeschoolers interested in national socialists. Hail Victory!” (In German “Hail Victory” translates to “Sieg Heil,” one of Hitler and the Nazis’ most-used slogans.)
What Lawrence did not mention about the German schoolchildren saluting was that they were slammed across the back of their shoulders with a stick by teachers whenever they failed to raise their arms high enough in their Hitler salutes.
The Lawrences also described how their family celebrated Hitler’s birthday, April 20, by baking a “Führer cake.”
“We had a lovely dinner followed by Führerkuchen,” Katja Lawrence wrote. “Our children celebrated Adolf’s birthday today by learning about Germany and eating favorite German foods.” She later added that she had baked “quite a few swastika items, my latest a swastika apple pie.”
The Lawrences also help organize what they call “pool parties.”
A “pool party” is the name for a secretive meetup organized by the white supremacist group, The Right Stuff and its political wing, the National Justice Party. Katja Lawrence even shared the direct email for a contact at The Right Stuff who dealt with vetting, while an account named the “National Justice Party” posts updates that include calls for Dissident Homeschool members to join its supporter group and updates on its Christmas charity drive.
It is easy to hope, and easier to claim, that groups like the Dissident Homeschooling network are tiny fringe groups with limited influence.
The Anti-Defamation League warns, however, that they have to be taken seriously, saying that the group, along with the Right Stuff and the National Justice League, are “virulently anti-Semitic.”
Their actions have proven the correctness of Anti-Defamation League warnings. They do things far worse than just baking swastika pies, and they are not, as Katja Lawrence claimed, “wholesome white people getting together for cookouts and such.”
Some 30 of their members were arrested last year inside a U-Haul truck on their way to an LGBTQ Pride event in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. The “wholesome white people” in the U-Haul were carrying weapons, shields, and smoke grenades.”
Credit: John Wojcik. Publication: People’s World. Published: February 2nd 2023. Source Link: https://peoplesworld.org/article/leaders-of-a-nazi-homeschooling-operation-unmasked-in-ohio/?eType=EmailBlastContent&eId=8f7e61fb-ef18-4e62-9089-06810e0e1629