Michelle Malkin is that special brand of talking head capable of making Ann Coulter seem like William F. Buckley. I’m not sure whether she is so closed-minded that she doesn’t understand the simple subjects she tries to comment upon, or if she’s so committed to her backward philosophy that she will just spout off misleading statements undermined by a modicum of investigation or analysis.
Her latest offering is an effort to tie President Obama’s criticism of violent rhetoric like telling gun nuts to “lock and load” to “take out” Democratic politicians to the American Labor movement “fighting” for its rights. There’s just something in the context of hanging this in front of gun-toting survivalists that isn’t quite there when you talk like this to 3rd grade teachers.
If it seems like those aren’t remotely equivalent, well you’re well ahead of Michelle Malkin.
So her thesis is that President Obama’s call for civil discourse overlooks labor union rhetoric to the contrary. And she has a list!
But the problem for Malkin is that her list of “union violence” is weak sauce. Most of her examples are not acts of violence…the others are overblown, hasty generalizations, or lies.
–May 2010: The Service Employees International Union buses in 700 workers from 20 states to storm Bank of America deputy general counsel Gregory Baer’s neighborhood and terrorize his youngest son while at home alone in Chevy Chase, Md. The tactic is straight from an SEIU intimidation manual on using community groups to “damage an employer’s public image and ties with community leaders and organizations.”
“Terrorize.” Really? No report of the incident suggests that the union protestors took any threatening action. The “youngest son” from Malkin’s story was a teenager and the only report that this kid was scared comes from Gregory Baer himself trying to explain why he refused to talk to the media or protestors. Protesting outside someone’s house may be intimidating, but it’s certainly not akin to putting gun targets on the faces of politicians who want to raise taxes by 3% and use it to feed the poor.
–September 2010: AFL-CIO chief Richard Trumka praises Nancy Pelosi for taking Obamacare and driving “it down the Republicans’ throats and out their backsides.”
Ramming something down throats? A commonly used expression for getting your way? Including this in the article as evidence of “violence” is actually embarrassing.
–August 2011: Striking Communications Workers of America declare “open season” on Verizon. Dozens of cases of sabotaged cable lines are reported.
Rhetoric like “open season” is a legitimate complaint. It evokes an image of hunting, which is exactly the kind of violence that should not be tolerated. The message also used the word “torture,” which is questionable based on the context. That said, Malkin’s not exactly telling the whole story. The line comes from a recorded call that says: “It is open season. Follow them safely, but when you get to a location, torture them, torture them with chants and noise. Be so loud that they can’t concentrate and wish they never got out of bed.” So it did not advocate physical violence, encouraged safety, and told people to “torture” management only through loud protest. Not that scary.
As for “sabotaged cable lines,” how is that violent rhetoric? I guess Malkin is suggesting that property damage is “thuggish,” but that’s not really relevant to her initial thesis that President Obama overlooks a lack of civil discourse when it comes from labor.
–September 2011: ILWU bosses lead a “Days of Rage” protest at Port of Longview, Wash., taking a half-dozen guards hostage, sabotaging railroad cars, dumping grain, smashing windows, cutting brake lines, threatening a local TV station and blocking trains in violation of a judicial restraining order.
Holding hostages is truly worrisome. A quick Google search of the story reveals that it was heavily reported…by Michelle Malkin. This isn’t to excuse the damage caused by angry protestors, but the reports of “hostages” were discredited when someone actually talked to the supposed hostages themselves.
But back to property damage briefly — does anyone else find it ironic that the same conservatives bitching and moaning about the destruction of private property by protestors choose to self-identify with a bunch of drunks destroying a shipment of Tea belonging to a private company?
–February 2011: A Communications Workers of America union thug is caught on tape striking a young female FreedomWorks activist in Washington, D.C.
Well, here’s the video. What I see is a union worker being badgered by two jackholes while they taped him in hopes it would eventually lead to an outburst so they can edit out the entire lead up and get someone like Michelle Malkin to post it. This is essentially a Crocodile Hunter video with a human being…poking and prodding until it gets understandably pissed off. And I don’t see someone being “struck,” I see a paparazzo’s camera being pushed.
–February 2011: A Providence, R.I., union supporter says to a cameraman: “I’ll f**k you in the ass, you faggot.”
All news reports seem to indicate that the rest of the union protestors tried to shut this guy up. Malkin’s description is a hasty generalization trying to induce readers to believe it represents the whole of the movement.
–February 2011: Democratic Rep. Michael Capuano of Massachusetts revs up Big Labor goons by urging them to “get a little bloody.”
Capuano apologized for the statement, but in context it seems as though he was talking less about union members getting violent, and more about union members standing proud as they get their asses kicked by cops.
–March 2011: Racist SEIU supporters in Denver, Colo., taunt gay black tea party activist and entrepreneur Leland Robinson, who criticized teachers unions at a Capitol rally, by calling him “son,” telling him to “get behind that fence where you belong,” and jeering, “Do you have any children? That you claim?”
Another hasty generalization. And one that is a little insulting as this article from Mediaite points out. It’s also akin to saying that the person who created this is a warrant for voting against a Orrin Hatch because, hey they both agree on health care!
–March 2011: In Madison, Wis., an unhinged crowd of AFSCME, UFCW and SEIU union protesters corner a Wisconsin GOP senator shouting, “F**k you!” and “Shame!”
OK? Does Malkin expect a detailed policy debate to spontaneously break out? The Wisconsin GOP used its position to enforce policies that crippled the livelihoods of a massive number of Wisconsin residents and refused to engage with them. I doubt the senator was volunteering to have a conversation. Yelling at him is not particularly productive, but no one expects the argument over union rights to be won by a split-second exchange between a few workers on the line and a senator running by.
There is at least an argument that “fuck you” is steeped in violent imagery, but in day to day parlance it’s usually used as a generic profanity.
–August 2011: In Boston, local IBEW 827 storms Verizon Senior Vice President Bill Foshay’s neighborhood. Union members scream, “We’re here to fight” in front of his private residence on a weekend afternoon.
Yeah…”fight” never means anything but fisticuffs.
–September 2011: Teamsters President Jimmy Hoffa screams: “President Obama, this is your army. We are ready to march. Let’s take these son of bitches out…”
This is at least militaristic rhetoric, and the “take these son of bitches out” is definitely the kind of rhetoric that Obama criticized. Congratulations Malkin…you got one, good example.
–December 2011: Union-endorsed port protests in Oakland, Calif., Seattle, Los Angeles, San Diego and Houston cause massive commerce disruptions, lost wages, property destruction and untold injuries. A year later, ports are shut down on the West Coast during the busy holiday season, and another set of union port strikes — spearheaded by the violence-prone ILWU and ILA — threaten the East and Gulf coasts at the end of the month.
If I were Malkin’s editor, I would have pleaded with her to leave this out. After finally citing an actual labor leader using violent rhetoric, Malkin closes by citing a series of strikes that are bad because…they’re strikes. No specific incidents of violence, just a connection to the “violence-prone ILWU and ILA.”
Malkin has a disingenuous, but still good story to tell by collecting stories of individual union members being jerks and using that to discredit all of labor. But trying to concoct a tale that President Obama is a hypocrite on the subject of civil discourse? That’s a bridge too far.