Cities throughout the Islamic world are experiencing protests from mobs angry over a poorly-made hate film denigrating the Prophet Muhammed. As groups breach U.S. Embassies and Consulates and tear down American flags, many, from Rick Santorum to newspaper editorial boards have taken to describing these mobs as “thugs.”
Mob behavior can descend into violence and property destruction, which does fit the proper definition of the word “thug” which originated in reference to a cartel of thieves and murderers in India known as the “Cult of Thugee.” Even if the term is inappropriate to describe the bulk of protestors, it can certainly define the terrorist cell that used the cover of these protests to mount a deadly attack in Benghazi.
That said, the use of the term informally conveys the concept of a depraved, immoral addiction to violence and destruction whenever invoked. It is this toxic element to the term that has led some to question if it is or is not racially loaded given that it is most often employed to recklessly hyper-charge descriptions of even petty crimes by minorities.
Enter South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint, who did not miss an opportunity to draw a parallel between teachers and terrorists.
You know, we have had a lot of bad news this week. On my way over, I was reading another story about a distant place where thugs had put 400,000 children out in the streets. And then I realized that was a story about the Chicago Teachers Union strike.
Isn’t Jim DeMint a peach? Obviously the term “thug” always carries rhetorical force, but during a week where the term is attached to a concrete image of lawless mobs setting fire to cars and to the murder of 4 American officials, applying the term to the public school teachers that make up the Chicago Teachers Union trying to thanklessly serve more than 350,000 children is truly reprehensible.
This strike has generated irritation from parents, but the conservative effort to tag teachers as greedy opportunists hurting children with their selfish demands requires denying the fact that five days of striking is dwarfed by years of dutiful service.
It requires ignoring that the primary dispute in this strike is about ensuring that good teachers are not lost to bureaucracy. Specifically, the Chicago Teachers Union reject the increased reliance on standardized test scores to evaluate teachers — which the Union rejects given that many Chicago schools don’t have libraries, making an evaluation based on student performance akin to evaluating doctors based on their success rate performing brain surgery with a hacksaw and a leather strap.
Pickett lines outside schools do not match the image of protestors hurling rocks against a backdrop of burning cars. But Jim DeMint wants you to make that connection.