Common, working Americans fighting for fair wages, benefits and working conditions under the ruling class of the elitist rich has been a building block of our country’s humble beginnings and our collective pursuit of greatness on the world stage. The ability for workers to organize and unionize is one of our labor force’s greatest contributions to the “American exceptionalism” that the Right likes to hold so dearly to its heart.
In Madison, Wisconsin, working Americans are currently standing together in the fight against a state-wide overhaul of union rights by newly-elected Republican Governor Scott Walker that would negatively impact scores of state union workers, including teachers, police, firefighters and public works engineers.
Sounds like something most Americans can get behind, right? Not so much, according to Right wing media.
In typical Fox News fashion – in which short-term memory, lack of attention to truthful specifics and face-palm hypocrisy reign supreme – its nightly propaganda team are in full union-bashing mode while ignoring its own ties to the very “villain” it has carefully manufactured.
With Fox in its corner and politicians like Walker in their pocket, the Right has not only declared war on the middle class, but facilitated an environment in which its rank and file followers cannot even comprehend why the workers being affected would want to stand up for their rights, wages, and benefits. Why? Because they are stupid enough – or ignorant enough – or apathetic enough – to be watching Fox News.
“Elitist” Right-wing pundits like Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly and Rush Limbaugh – each ironically well-paid, union members (they each belong to the American Federation Television and Radio Artists union (AFTRA), which is the AFL-CIO affiliate for television and broadcast workers) – have embarked on a crusade against working Americans’ rights (um, helllo, Tea Party, where the fuck are you?) by callously demonstrating their opposition to the plight of Wisconsin’s public employee unions.
AFTRA, a national labor union that represents over “70,000 performers, journalists and other artists working in the entertainment and news media,” negotiates and enforces “over 300 collective bargaining agreements that guarantee minimum (but never maximum) salaries, safe working conditions and health and retirement benefits.”
Yet, all but one (O’Reilly) adamantly either deny or hide the fact that they are union members who enjoy the very benefits that they are vehemently vilifying on-air.
After falsely blaming state financial problem on unions, Bill O’Reilly admitted his own AFTRA membership, citing a court case where his old “Inside Edition” boss, King World, “tried to renege on pension benefits. AFTRA took them to court and the case was settled. If the shop had been non-union, we might have been stiffed.”
Yet, Republicans in Wisconsin – as backed and supported by Fox News and its Right wing cohorts – have voted to strip public union workers of the very same collective bargaining rights, and “Billy O.” is just fine with that.
The Right’s media personalities consistently and unabashedly compare the union’s honest, pro-American efforts to “communist thug tactics” while hiding, editing and severely slanting the truth from their avid audience – and in some cases they have gone as far as to completely falsify claims that support their narrative.
In sharp contrast to their “positive-patriotism” spin on the grossly pro-Republican, anti-Obama smear campaign coverage of recent Tea Party rallies, Fox hosts continually ridicule and condemn Wisconsin protesters as being violent, anti-American, fascism supporters who, by means of petitioning for their rights, would see America crumble beneath some fantastical, socialist state.
“These unions are calling for Egypt-style protests on the street,” said wingnut prophet Glenn Beck, who also stated that the protests were a sure sign of “evil spreading around the globe” and asserted that while the “unions claim that the cuts will affect teachers, but it’s not the everyday teacher that this story is really all about. It’s about the people looking to create chaos on the backs of the worker when the world’s focus is on Egypt.”
“If this brave Republican governor [Walker] can stand up to the immense amount of power and thuggery, essentially, by these unions, it bodes very well for other states,” said conservative blogger Michelle Malkin.
“We are either on the side of the Wisconsin protesters,” said Right wing radio personality and political commentator Rush Limbaugh, “or we are on the side of our country.”
Ike thinks you are stupid
But what would some Republican “heroes” (other than the anti-union Ronald Reagan) have to say about Rush’s abhorrence to organized labor as well as his ineptitude in American political history?
Famed Republican President Dwight Eisenhower (Ike) held unions in the highest regard, while President Abraham Lincoln, amidst a country faced with the daunting task of rebuilding almost from scratch, saw labor unions as agents of truth in a time of uncertain future.
“I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country,” said Lincoln. “…[where] corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed.”
“Today in America, unions have a secure place in our industrial life,” said President Eisenhower. “Only a handful of reactionaries harbor the ugly thought of breaking unions and depriving working men and women of the right to join the union of their choice. I have no use for those — regardless of their political party — who hold some vain and foolish dream of spinning the clock back to days when organized labor was huddled, almost as a hapless mass.”
“Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs,” continues Eisenhower, “you would not hear of that party again in our political history.There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things…Their number is negligible and they are stupid.”
You hit the nail right on its stupid, stupid head, Ike.
For all of Beck’s rants of the declining Republic at the hands of supposed socialist satanists and Limbaugh’s slobbering slurs against the “aristocratic” Democrats and union “thugs,” it would be nice if they and their ilk read up on their history – both of their political party and their country.
But a sound education – like strong labor unions, advances in science and equal rights for all – obviously go against the Right’s vision for America.