Weingarten’s Remark Wasn’t Antisemitic, Just Stupid

Earlier this week I highlighted an interview the Jerusalem Post conducted with Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers. In response to a question about the union’s reluctance to reopen schools, Weingarten said that “American Jews are now part of the ownership class” who “now want to take that ladder of opportunity away from those who do not have it.”

She’s taking a beating in some quarters for making a “borderline anti-Semitic case for school closings.”

If a gentile had made the same remark, it would be considered antisemitic, and rightly so. But Weingarten is a Jew, speaking to a Jewish audience, so I interpret her language in a way similar to hearing African-Americans using the “n” word. Let the offended speak for themselves.

Once we rule out antisemitism, Weingarten’s quote just seems like so much nonsense. How is wanting to reopen schools taking away “the ladder of opportunity?” Surely, keeping schools closed is more apt to do that.

We should also cast a side-eye at class struggle rhetoric coming from someone who makes $418,000 a year from the paychecks of her members, many of whom earn less than 1/10th of that. It must be nice to denounce the ownership class from a perch in the Hamptons.

Someone who is constantly being interviewed is likely to make a few missteps. We shouldn’t overinterpret such stuff. Weingarten would do well to follow the example set by former NEA President Lily Eskelsen García, who found herself in similar hot water with disability rights groups after a gaffe. She made her public apologies and moved on. Doubling down is never a good idea.

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