Thuggery in the Wisconsin Union Battle
At first, the multi-union sponsor of the annual Labor Day parade in Wausau, Wisconsin "disinvited" all Republican office-holders. No kidding. No marching for them. No open convertibles. No waving to the crowds. No tossing wrapped candies to kiddies along the parade route.
Then the Wausau-based union locals had a change of heart. Undone by nasty publicity and a level-headed mayor threatening to yank their parade permit, union bosses grudgingly gave in, lifting their silly ban. So on Monday, Labor Day, Congressman Sean Duffy (R-Wis.) of Wisconsin's Seventh District showed up, only to be taunted by jeering union activists turned out en masse for the parade. Literally turning their backs on their duly-elected representative in the U.S. House, protesters screamed at the curbs, "Shame! Shame!" as a nonplussed Rep. Duffy passed by.
Not that Wisconsin Republicans were all that keen to join Labor Day parades, suspecting catcalls and maybe flying objects -- in short, the foul play they've come to expect from rabid public employee union devotees, led by teachers, and camp followers. All this furor because GOPers acted with resolve to stop the hemorrhaging of the state finances by curbing excessive public employee benefits enacted by previous (Democrat) regimes. Finally someone stood up for ordinary Wisconsin taxpayers.
What we have, in reaction, is down 'n' dirty public union thuggery. No other word for it. News media have that see-no-evil response. Thus do weird politics become scary in the Badger State, triggering unprecedented recall elections. Spite was asserting itself. Despite pouring over $30 million into their friendlies' campaigns, unions could not replace enough Republicans with their lackeys to win control of the state senate. Along the way toward Armageddon, almost inevitably, came death threats, largely unreported -- or is that ignored? -- by news media.
"Across the whole Republican caucus, we have received at least a dozen, credible, specific death threats," a well-placed legislative staffer told National Review's Deroy Murdock. "This was not just 'go to hell,'" the staffer added, "but threats that rose to a level that made people feel unsafe." Trouble is, perception in politics can become chilling reality.
GOPers in parades might put their chins, or their lives, on the line as the heated rhetoric of the pro-union left becomes disturbingly violent. Here's a snippet, word-for-word, from an actual email received by a host of Republican legislators from a known suspect party in Lacrosse, Wisconsin:
... I and the group of people that are working with me have decided that we've had enough. We feel that you and your republican dictators have to die. This is how it's going to happen: I as well as many others know where you and your family live, it's a matter of public record. We have all planned to assult [sic] you by arriving at your house and putting a nice little bullet in your head.
Say you are a Republican state senator. In the relative safety of your office at the Capitol, you find a note slipped under your door. It is anonymous. It says: "The only good Republican is a dead Republican." Who would do such a thing? A fellow legislator? (Yes, as it turned out.) As a joke? (Not really -- done in the heat of the moment.) Some dark sense of humor...it fits progressives' theater of the absurd. Not getting their way, tantrum-like, they trash any opposition, waiting for Godot.
Later, after the final legislative session, a darkened chartered bus whisks you and fellow GOP legislators away from the Capitol in the dead of night to avoid the shoving, scurrilous, yelling mob doing damage to the Capitol. Your personal safety at risk. Meanwhile, your home phone has been ringing. Madly. From irked union constituents. This is America? You became a public-serving legislator for this? Gotta be kidding.
Worse yet, your kids go to school and are subjected, they say, to hostile looks from their teachers, perhaps by lower grades, and harsh words from fellow students. Friendships are frayed. Retribution for their parents' vote on a budget reform act, for goodness? How surreal does it get? Kids will be kids, but spiteful teachers too?
(Few know: in December 2009, then-Governor James Doyle, a Democrat, signed into law a union-authored bill that forces unions on schoolchildren, teaching the history of organized labor, including paeans to collective bargaining "rights." Click the link if you doubt such curriculum mandates imposed by servile-to-union Democrats then in power.)
At the Capitol this spring of discontent, angry mobs, mainly teachers, many on phony "sick leaves," their schools shuttered by their absences, took over "debate." They and their union disciples scream "Shame!"and worse, coarse obscenities and lightly veiled threats, toward Republicans. The F-word is employed. Shabbily, the mob preaches a false righteousness for their unions to control the state's purse strings, and for the Employer State to collect their very union dues.
A death threat is the ultimate form of thuggery. Lesser threats -- not to life, but to others' well-being and property -- include intimidation of local businesses. Sadly, unions are up to that tawdry task. If a business does not bow to their demands, such as placing a pro-union poster in their windows, the threat -- in writing, no less -- is to boycott it. Try to injure it. To hell with others' jobs.
Neutrality is not an option. Businesses large and small are tagged as guilty if not kowtowing to the union humbly, POW-style. It is a variation of the old protection racket run by organized crime. It's that old savage hit-'em-in-the-kneecaps strategy if they don't, ah, "cooperate." Or maybe a knuckle sandwich will get the lowly businessperson to see things the unions' way?
Astoundingly, even Wisconsin police and fire public unions hint that they would not respond to crime in progress or fires at non-union-compliant businesses. This amounts to the would-be forces of anarchy on the prowl. Coverage of all this possibly criminal skulduggery is nearly nonexistent.
An in-depth study by Media Research Center of major networks ABC, CBS, and NBC coverage of Wisconsin's madness discovered only eight reports dared show protesters' vile placards comparing the union-reviled Gov. Walker with a mustachioed Hitler, replete with swastikas, or to a red-caped Satan, sprouting horns. "Not a single network anchor or reporter addressed whether the signs are close to civil, or appropriate," said MRC President Brent Bozell.
Only one cable network, vilified by the left, reported on the death threats. That sole mention was a "Talking Points Memo" during Bill O'Reilly's top-rated talking-head program on Fox News. Evidently "shhh" was the operative word on all other networks about no less than palpable death threats. Only a few newspapers picked up on the death threat storyline, including a courageous Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Proving, at least, it could be done, absent political correctness, by members of another union, the Newspaper Guild. Otherwise, it was union birds of a feather not issuing a peep -- definitely bad news for America.
Finally, this, from an obviously deranged loony-tunes lefty, is found in this e-mail to selected, targeted Wisconsin Republican legislators:
We will hunt you down. We will slit your throats. We will drink your blood. I will have your decapitated head on a pike in the Madison town square. This is your last warning.
Snippet from an al-Qaeda broadside? No, this e-mail was received by Republican state senators in Wisconsin. Still wonder so many Republicans skipped Labor Day parades? With that kind of union-induced hatred oozing from humanity's seamier side, it's no wonder. Something is very, very rotten in Wisconsin, and it's not the cheese.
Gary Larson is a retired newspaper and business magazine editor in Minnesota. He is not the cartoonist of the same name.