Not to be deterred by its embarrassing failure to carry out its 2022 national “Disinformation Governance Board” plan, the federal Department of Homeland Security has now resorted to funding a grassroots surrogate operation in Rhode Island.

A grant of more than $700,000 was provided by the DHS to the University of Rhode Island, which in turn funded a local group called “Courageous RI.” Instead of a top-down national “governance board” strategy, DHS appears to be shifting to a local, bottom-up approach in seeking to accomplish its same dishonest objective.

The Courageous RI scheme is deceptively less overt than was DHS in its mission to discourage and shut down free speech, but it’s not fooling anybody. In an embarrassing YouTube video of its own (and, obviously, with visions of Jan.  6 “insurrectionists” dancing in their head), its stated mission is “to address targeted violence and domestic terrorism in Rhode Island.”

Neither exists in reality. It’s purportedly caused by speech they disagree with.

Under the guise of advancing “media literacy” and positioning themselves as the Ocean State’s “ministers of truth,” these ideologues in the mold of failed disinformation czarina Nina “Mary Poppins” Jankowicz make no secret about the spoonful of their own disinformation they hope to force down the throats of unsuspecting students, teachers, and others, via a planned campaign over the next two years to educate citizens how to discern encoded “hate speech.” Get “curious not furious” they proclaim.

The Courageous RI ideologues caution anyone who will listen to consider how “white nationalist ideology is expressed in ways that may not at first be recognized as dangerous”; to face the supposed reality of “an unjust and unequal democracy” and how America’s “political and economic system was designed for the privileged and prioritizing their power”; and to see how all levels of government “actively oppress individuals” in marginalized communities.

Could their political prejudices be any more obvious? Actually, yes.

In one of the case studies by Courageous RI’s Media Education Lab partner at URI, these purveyors of perceived  truth attack a statement by then-President Donald Trump about the origins of COVID-19: “The United States will be powerfully supporting those industries, like airlines and others, that are particularly affected by the Chinese virus. We will be stronger than ever before.”

The lesson plan for this example first makes the erroneous assertion that “Trump was the president who governed the U.S. for three years.” Only three years?

The lesson plan goes on to state that instead of trying to uplift the nation, Trump “vividly pinned the blame on the Chinese people for the outbreak,” supposedly without any factual or scientific evidence. It adds that, to “some misinformed people, his opinion matters” in “attacking East and Southeast Asian communities” and that certain “victims have been beaten up and even killed because of Trump’s influence.”

Nothing in that lesson plan is true or accurate.

Despite Courageous RI’s claim that an informed coalition of people under its tutelage can help “depolarize” Rhode Island, its own delusional doses of medicine are themselves false, inflammatory, and divisive. Are we simply to trust that the truth is only what the media supremacists at Courageous RI say it is?

Yet, with much fanfare at a Feb. 28 Statehouse press conference, the Democratic secretary of state and a Republican state representative were on hand to give credence to this sham initiative.

Part of the plan is that Courageous RI, under the imprimatur of the state of Rhode Island, will soon be invited to teach its biased lesson plans in classrooms, teacher training sessions, and other public forums across our state.

It’s one thing for government officials to use their bully pulpits to advocate for an initiative like this, as misguided as it may be. However, it’s quite another thing when public funding is used to support such ludicrous, deceitful, and potentially partisan activity. The Left has mastered the art of acquiring and turning taxpayer dollars against the very Americans who pay those taxes, while also funding radical left-wing causes and organizations.

Were it not for being paid with taxpayer dollars to spread their own disinformation, this “anti-disinformation” movement in America would wither on the vine and die. Instead, with financial support from federal, state, and local governmens, the Left will continue to hold a decided advantage when it comes to public issue advocacy, allowing it to disseminate its false propaganda under the guise of “truth” or “science.”

Courageous RI’s mission is to teach the public “how to analyze media messages that shape public opinion and how people of all ages can learn to spot disinformation and hoaxes.”

The irony is that Courageous RI, funded by taxpayers, has already proven itself to be the source of disinformation and hoaxes that are about to be perpetrated on the people of Rhode Island.

The Daily Signal publishes a variety of perspectives. Nothing written here is to be construed as representing the views of The Heritage Foundation.

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