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.

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  • viddy

    So, if there is violence by a deranged labor supporter it is Michael Moore’s fault? Does that mean Sarah Palin is responsible for the shooting of Representative Giffords in Tucson? And John, did you actually read the 1969 report you linked in your article? Of course there has been horrific violence throughout the history of the labor movement. You just forgot to mention that frequently management was the aggressor or the “thug.” You really should read up on the history of the labor movement. As far as the television segment with Michael Moore inciting violence, because he only used the word “peaceful” once? Really? Where was anyone threatened? It’s not like he has a website with crosshairs targeting certain names.

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  • Tess_Comments

    The title of this article says it all.
    Labor leaders must renounce violence
    Stop with the Class War – Bull.
    Our Lawmakers (Representatives) need to work for the good of ALL Legal US Residents. Stop with assisting the Special Interest Groups. If tax dollars are being used, all should benefit. There is too much emphasis on the Underprivileged, the middle class and the Elite. Let us go back to having the USA be a melting pot again.

  • dalgray

    It isn’t so much about renouncing violence, no one on the left of any import would ever do such a thing, they may say it, they don’t mean it. Revolutionary socialists never get it, the revolution revolves, what goes around comes around, they end up back where they started or worse. There is nothing accidental about socialism or the one man one vote once only crowd and the police states that flag their usual form of government. On the one hand they howl about oppression, on the other they are the experts with regard to levying oppression, violence is just the “on streets department” of that policy. Nothing new since the October Revolution in Russia, Wisconsin is a simple rerun of the method. Given there is a worldwide attempt to incite revolutionary violence there is a need to counter it.

    What is to be done? Violence should be charged to the Union both as a fine for the violence itself and for the conspiracy in setting it up in the first place. Violence has nothing to do with free speech expression or the right to demonstrate. Trade unions have a history of violent and intolerant activity and will continue to use it to strong arm their opponents. To answer Lenin’s question, there needs to be a simple law to deal with it, something like this:-

    1. Every person who is arrested for violence and assault in the course of a demonstration, if found to be a union member in a dispute or event related to the Union’s presence should be personally fined, and so should the union for permitting a union member to act on their behalf in a violent manner. There should be a presumption that a union member present in a dispute or event is acting for the union.
    2. If there is damage to premises and other tortious damage concomitant with the violence levied, or conspired to be levied by Union members and officials or incited by them, the Union and its officials should be subject to sequestration orders to pay unlimited damages for said damage caused.
    3. If third parties suffer damage in the course of a union related dispute the union or unions responsible should likewise have funds sequestrated to pay for the damages.
    4. With respect of paragraphs 1, 2, and 3 above the law should only be extant upon notice given to the demonstrators by the Chief of Police in the jurisdiction where the demonstration is occurring or by the Governor of the State. The said Chief of Police or Governor of the State must have a reasonable apprehension that violence is actively in place or is imminent.
    5. The standard of proof in relation to property damage and assault should be the civil standard of upon the balance of probabilities not the reasonable doubt principle in criminal law.

    The purpose of such a law is to prevent the lethal violence building up in the first place. Once matters are out of hand on the streets people can suffer serious injury or death, likewise, buildings, cars, shops etc. are often the target of violent left wing demonstrators and revolutionaries seeking to cause as much damage as possible. Those in the shadows who incite and plan such activities should be made to pay for at least the damages and costs.

    By making the law “trigger” like the riot act, the law can only be used once a situation is severe. By making the miscreants pay unlimited damages the cost of violence would prevent most of it from ever happening if it is driven by union officials or activists for the unions. The last paragraph would permit judicial inspection of the law case by case to ensure the remedy is not overused.

    There is a large contingent of Weathermen leftists out there, these people have no problem with violence and mass murder it is engrained in their revolutionary ideology. Clipping their wings in advance of violent demonstrations or other agit prop street theatre events should be made expensive. The above law should be considered for organizations that are present in violent events. The rule should be simple, if they are present, corporately of individually, at a violent insurrective event they should pay for the damages.

    Intimidation and violence is at the core of the left, of which many trade unions are a part, mass murder and coercion is their modus operandi in far too many cases to ignore, it would be useful to make them pay for their methods. The left of politics have an appalling history of mass murder and oppression that includes the Nazis and other national or international socialists. We would like to keep our relatively free society without the depredations of these loons.

    Finding ways to nip violent politics in the bud is essential to free speech and a free society. Far leftists want to eliminate or kill their opponents, these people are totalitarians and killers at heart, they have no notion that a free society matters for its own sake. They know best, despite the history of their activities. Hit these people in the wallet as much as you can. Chilling violence on the streets and the intent to go out and foment it is an essential prophylactic.

  • Dee2008

    You’re absolutely right, and it isn’t limited to Moore. The rhetoric surrounding this topic is completely unhinged. I listened to Richard Trumka yesterday. His so-called speech was nothing more than a series of emotionally charged phrases designed to whip up the troops. The same is true of the Democrat senators. When you tell a large crowd of already inflamed people that “democracy has been stolen from them,” how do you think they’ll react? The things these people are saying are outrageous and mostly untrue. Their irresponsible statements reflect a serious lack of emotional maturity. And we shouldn’t be surprised by that.