Only Terrorists Are Terrorists

Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union, made headlines yesterday – which was certainly her intent – by characterizing Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner as an ISIS recruit. Here are the relevant remarks:

Bruce Rauner is a liar. You know, I’ve been reading in the news lately about all of these ISIS recruits popping up all over the place—has Homeland Security checked this man out yet? Because the things he’s doing look like acts of terror on poor and working class people.

Rauner is a public figure, wealthy, governor of a large state, and has a professional communications staff. In other words, he doesn’t need defending. Public policy disputes lead to all sorts of rhetoric, but these are just words, after all. No one gets hurt.

The problem is that it belittles terrorism. If there is no difference between Gov. Rauner and a terrorist, then there is no difference between a terrorist and Gov. Rauner. Except that there is.

Acts of terror on poor and working class people would be blowing them to bits with explosives, or lopping their heads off with a sword, or taking them as sex slaves, or crucifying them. One can only imagine how ISIS would respond to a teacher strike.

In 2004, U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige referred to NEA as a “terrorist organization” in a private meeting with governors. He was rightfully lambasted for doing so, and the comments of teacher union leaders at the time should be remembered.

Reg Weaver, NEA president: “Our members say that once again this national leader has insulted them, this time beyond repair, with words filled with hatred — and merely because they raised legitimate concerns about the president’s so-called ‘No Child Left Behind’ law.” NEA sent a letter to President Bush demanding that Paige step down.

Diana Garchow, NEA board of directors: “I can tell you what my first response was: Scary. That’s really frightening. It’s scary that you can’t voice an opinion in this country without being called a terrorist.”

Lu Battaglieri, Michigan Education Association president: “Secretary Paige is acting like a schoolyard bully, resorting to name calling and insults. He needs to be removed.”

A statement from the American Federation of Teachers said it was “unconscionable and irresponsible for any public figure, let alone a U.S. Cabinet member, to undertake this kind of name-calling.”

I’m pretty sure AFT won’t be sending a similar statement to Karen Lewis.


3 thoughts on “Only Terrorists Are Terrorists”

  1. And we’re you as quick to jump on Paige for claiming teacher unions were terrorist organizations, or do you just save your criticism for union leaders?

  2. From the Feb. 23, 2004 EIA Communique’ (

    Secretary Paige Calls NEA “Terrorist Organization.” The Associated Press reported this afternoon that U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige called NEA “a terrorist organization” in a private meeting with several governors. Paige later apologized for his remarks.

    If he had planned to say the stupidest possible thing when he entered the room, Paige could not have chosen better words. Not only was it wrong, inaccurate and an inexcusable application of the adjective “terrorist,” but it enabled his political opponents to recast his slur as an assault on teachers. “We are the teachers, there is no distinction,” said NEA President Reg Weaver. Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe accused Paige of “hate speech, comparing those who teach America’s children to terrorists.”

    Secretary Paige and, by association, President Bush, will take a justified rhetorical beating from NEA and the Democrats from now until Election Day over this. In referring to the union that way, Paige tossed the pin and held on to the hand grenade. Whatever damage he sustains is self-induced and well-deserved.

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