Lana Theis might not have expected much of a response to her fundraising email attacking a fellow Michigan legislator. Theis, a Republican, wasn't even running against state Sen. Mallory McMorrow. But Theis attacked her anyway, the Hill reports, telling supporters she's competing with "social media trolls like Senator Mallory McMorrow (D-Snowflake) who are outraged they can't teach can't groom and sexualize kindergarteners." McMorrow said that though she was aware of Republican accusations about what's being taught in classrooms throughout the country, the letter took her by surprise, and she reeled for a day or so. "The fact that you could just kind of fling this accusation at me was so deeply hurtful," McMorrow said.
Then she fought back against her colleague's "hollow, hateful scheme" in a speech on the floor of the Michigan Senate, turning identity politics around. "So who am I?" McMorrow said. "I am a straight, white, Christian, married, suburban mom who knows that the very notion that learning about slavery or redlining or systemic racism somehow means that children are being taught to feel bad or hate themselves because they are white is absolute nonsense." She added her vision, per the New York Times. "I want every child in this state to feel seen, heard and supported, not marginalized and targeted because they are not straight, white, and Christian."
Widespread praise followed. President Biden called her, she tweeted, to talk about "why we do this, and what it means for the soul of the nation." Cable TV shows also called, and Jimmy Kimmel did a bit about her. Political contributions of more than $250,000 poured in. "She's articulating what many people are feeling,” said Jim Wallis, a Georgetown University theologian, per the Washington Post. "She's representing more people than she can even imagine." Theis, who McMorrow said turned her back during the speech, answered with a tweet that began, "Sen. McMorrow is not naive about politics and fundraising."
The Democrat who said "we will not let hate win" gave her party a lesson in fighting back against "ad hominem nonsense," Leonard Pitts Jr. wrote in a column in the Miami Herald. He recommends watching the video of the speech, as millions have already. "Those people are drawn not by McMorrow's eloquence," Pitts writes, "but by her unapologetic conviction, her moral clarity, her willingness to state liberal values without equivocation and defend them without wavering." PBS NewsHour posted the video here. (Read more Michigan stories.)