Americans periodically complain about the rancor in our political discourse, and while it’s certainly nothing new (and is better than, say, murderous feuds between factions), they have a point. We do better as a society to the extent that we can discuss difficult matters without doing and saying things that escalate emotions unnecessarily.
For the most part, doing and saying such things is probably inadvertent; relatively few people are so deeply engaged in public debate that their rhetoric is thoroughly conscious. Among those who are deeply engaged, some portion who use inflammatory rhetoric do so because they’re passionate and their sincere beliefs can’t help but inflame the other side. And then there are those who escalate emotions in order to isolate their opposition and manipulate everybody else.
I’d put American Federation of Teachers leader Randi Weingarten in that last group, and find the sort of rhetoric that Dan McGowan reports from her to be beyond the pale:
“Providence, Rhode Island is not Oklahoma City or Phoenix, Arizona,” Weingarten told reporters gathered outside Mount Pleasant High School. “And the fact that a mayor of this city is not sitting down trying to solve these problems and acting more like what we see in states that haven’t really cared about their kids is shocking to me.”
According to this self-interested union organizer, entire states’ worth of Americans don’t care about their children. Why? Presumably because their elected officials don’t give as much money to her members as she’d like.
If this were some isolated statement, that’d be bad enough, but we’ve more than ample experience with teachers unions in Rhode Island to know that it’s part of a deliberate organizational strategy to keep union members feeling undervalued and citizen-governments in constant turmoil that can only be relieved by giving in to the union’s demands. In short, it’s exactly the sort of attitude and behavior that ought to embarrass professional teachers and, if the Supreme Court decides for freedom in the upcoming Janus decision, lead them to cancel their memberships.