Labor leaders must renounce violence

The American labor movement has always had a violent undertow. Union violence has taken hundreds of lives in the past century, and even a pro-union 1969 report on preventing violence in America acknowledged that “the United States has had the bloodiest and most violent labor history of any industrial nation in the world.”

I mention this because left-wing filmmaker and propagandist Michael Moore appeared yesterday on “The Rachel Maddow Show” and all but incited violence.

Oh, to be sure, Moore did say (just once) that left-wing protests must be “non-violent.” But that was a rote, pro-forma statement that Moore quickly glossed over as he urged far-left protesters to storm Madison and other Midwestern state capitals in order to protest legislative reforms of collective bargaining arrangements.

“Really, this is a war,” Moore told Maddow. “This is a class war that’s been leveled against the working people of this country.”

Of course, in a real “war,” people get killed — and oftentimes, the people who get killed are innocent noncombatants.

Thus, the danger in using such extreme and over-the-top rhetoric is that some people will take Moore’s rhetoric literally and act accordingly. The result, tragically, could be incidents of violence that result in murder and mayhem.

Unfortunately, this is no phantom worry. It’s happened before in American history, thanks to violent union thugs, and it could happen again. And of course, it doesn’t help when Democratic members of Congress such as Rep. Michael Capuano (D-Mass.) urge union goons to take to “the streets and get a little bloody…”

So it isn’t surprising that, as Wisconsin talk radio host Charles Sykes reports, there is “growing intimidation and escalating threats of violence” in Madison.

Yesterday, 15 Republican state senators received a chilling, death threat-laden email from a union supporter. The Daily Caller has reprinted that email. Here’s the text:

Please put your things in order because you will be killed and your families will also be killed due to your actions in the last 8 weeks.

Please explain to them that this is because if we get rid of you and your families, then it will save the rights of 300,000 people, and also be able to close the deficit that you have created. I hope you have a good time in hell. Read below for more information on possible scenarios in which you will die…

We have also built several bombs that we have placed in various locations around the areas in which we know that you frequent. This includes: your house, your car, the state capitol, and well, I won’t tell you all of them because that’s just no fun…

Please make your peace with God as soon as possible and say goodbye to your loved ones. [W]e will not wait any longer. YOU WILL DIE!!!!

This is scary stuff and must be taken seriously, especially given the history of violence, coercion and intimidation in the American labor movement.

The media can help avert violence by focusing on this issue, raising it in the national consciousness, and asking Michael Moore and other labor organizers about it. Do Moore and other labor organizers renounce violence? Do they demand that their members employ strictly peaceful and democratic means of protest?

The more this question gets asked, the more likely we are to avert a calamity.

There is a way to institute change in America, and it is by the ballot box, not the bullet or the club. Michael Moore and other labor organizers must say this — overtly, loudly and often — or bear serious moral and legal culpability if and when people are beaten or killed because of their not-so-subtle incitements to violence.

John R. Guardiano is a writer and analyst in Arlington, Virginia. He writes and blogs for a variety of publications, including FrumForum, the American Spectator and The Daily Caller. Follow him at his personal blog, ResoluteCon.com, and on Twitter @JohnRGuardiano.