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.