By Zachary Stieber and Jan Jekielek
A public defender who was fired for speaking out against critical race theory says what happened was troubling and that she expects to win a legal battle she’s engaged in.
“I wasn’t even talking about my job. I was talking about my kid’s schools and my kid’s education. And so the idea that my employer felt that they had the right to weigh in, and to say that my ideas and my thoughts rendered me unfit to do my job, it’s really troubling,” Maud Maron said on EpochTV’s “American Thought Leaders.”
Critical race theory is a movement that focuses on a person’s race being the defining aspect of their identity, as opposed to other aspects of their being such as personality traits or achievements. It assumes that race is socially constructed and racism is systemic. Critics say the movement, which supporters allege is aimed at combating racism, is itself racist.
Maron spoke out about “anti-bias training” she received from the Department of Education as a public school council member. She said she was told to refer to herself as a “white woman” and that attendees learned about the “white-supremacy culture” and other ideas that trace back to “White Fragility,” a book penned by white author Robin DiAngelo that claims people must constantly think about race as they interact with others in their daily life.
Maron’s op-ed, published in the New York Post in July 2020 after the training, also detailed how she was harassed after correctly listing Asians as being part of the group sometimes referred to as “people of color.” Critical race theorists sometimes allege Asians are not people of color because their achievement metrics are often the highest of any racial group.
“We all want a well-integrated, high-quality public-school system. Parents have the right to demand an education that prepares their children to meet or exceed grade-level expectations, which in America often lag other countries,” Maron wrote at the time.
The piece and comments Maron made on social media drew backlash, including from the Black Attorneys of Legal Aid, representing black lawyers who work for the Legal Aid Society.
They said Maron’s rhetoric was ostensibly against racism but that she was actually racist, in part because she denounced the so-called “anti-racism” ideas that some put forth.
“That Maud finds this to be ‘chilling’ tells true racial advocates all they need to know: she’s racist, and wants the [New York City] school system—which holds the honors of being the most segregated in America—to remain unequal,” the group wrote in a statement.
That led to the Legal Aid Society and the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys, Maron’s employer and union, attacking her. For instance, the society shared the black attorneys’ statement, suggesting an endorsement of the views. The society later denounced Maron for her op-ed in its own statement, claiming she “denies the existence of structural and institutional racism.”
Maron sued the society and the union, charging there was no evidence that, among other allegations, she is racist and emphasizing she believes in structural and institutional racism and opposes it.
“My union and my employer released statements basically saying that I was unfit to do the job because of the opinions that I held,” Maron told The Epoch Times.
Redmond Haskins, a spokesperson for the Legal Aid Society, told The Epoch Times in an email: “We believe this lawsuit is a frivolous and misguided attempt to use litigation to harass a non-profit employer and its employees who have spent their careers advancing social justice causes.”
The case is still in its early stages and has not been ruled on.
Maron, who is running as an independent for a seat on the City Council for New York City, said she received support from a wide range of folks, including people who hold far-left views and people who are “deeply conservative” after her situation was highlighted by former New York Times reporter Bari Weiss.
“They were people whose politics and whose ideas spanned a very wide range but agreed with the idea that you should have any ideas you want and still be able to show up and work and if you’re doing your job well you should be able to keep doing it, even if your employer doesn’t agree with you about some issues, some concern. So there is common ground among Americans, even Americans have different political parties, even people with very divergent views on important issues; there is common ground that if you’re invested in finding it and creating a space for that open discourse, you can find it,” she said.
Maron encouraged people to run for office and go to local meetings, nodding to those who have shown up in large groups in recent months at school board meetings to protest against critical race theory and similar ideologies.
“I’d like to see more people run for office who are not parroting the party line, whether it’s the Democratic Party line or the Republican Party line, but are really speaking directly to the issues that people are talking about,” she said. “School boards are a great place to see sort of grassroots concerns. If you go to your local school board and you see what makes parents get up, stand up, sit on uncomfortable chairs, and wait around forever to speak two minutes into a mic, then you’ll know what people are worried about and concerned about. And we need more politicians who are speaking to that.”