The shooting at the San Bernardino center for the disabled has focused public attention on the pressing issue of workplace violence. Some have suggested Tashfeen Malik and Syed Rizwan Farook may be terrorists, based on their use of explosives and heavy weapons, their links to Islamic extremism, and Malik’s pledge of allegiance to ISIS. But others have cited a feud in the office as the real reason for Wednesday’s attack, making this massacre of 14 people a simple episode of workplace violence, and certainly not an indictment of radical Islam.
With that in mind, The Daily Caller News Foundation looks at seven other infamous outbreaks of workplace violence throughout history.
1. The American Revolutionary Spinoff Argument
George Washington, a regional manager for the British Empire upset about his lack of input into wider corporate operations, pulled off an office coup which saw the United States subsidiary spun off as an independent entity. This workplace feud was highlighted by the outside role played by FranceCo., which helped bankroll Washington’s efforts in an effort to weaken their business rival.
One of the great heroes of the spinoff fight was Nathan Hale, who famously declared “I only regret that I have but one career to lose for my company.”
2. The American Civil Workplace Dispute
One of the bloodiest examples on this list, as over 600,000 people died in a lengthy office argument over U.S. government labor policies. Union general William Tecumseh Sherman, whose faction favored a pay increase for low-level employees, summed up the horrors of the period when he declared “Workplace violence is hell.”
3. Fort Hood
Nidal Malik Hasan was observed crying “Allahu Akbar!” as he rampaged through Fort Hood, slaying 13 of his co-workers. The meaning of this phrase is unclear, but may be a coded protest against workplace discrimination or price hikes at the local commissary.
A fruitful working relationship between Osama bin Laden and the U.S. government in the 1980s ended in a messy breakup after bin Laden’s contract wasn’t renewed. Bin Laden teamed up with several other disgruntled ex-employees in Afghanistan, where they masterminded the destruction of the World Trade Center to prove their worth. It was a lot like the ending of Office Space, really.
5. World Work Dispute II
Adolf Hitler, an embittered former painter, launched invasions of France, Poland, the Netherlands, and other countries, likely to get back at art critics who were unimpressed with his work and refused to buy it. Hitler was backed up by millions of German union workers who believed they got a raw deal in contract negotiations at Versailles 20 years before. More than 20 million employees died in what is likely the biggest instance of “going postal” in workplace history.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, a casual disagreement over oil contracts rapidly escalated out of control, as employees of Japan Industries responded by blowing up half of America’s shipping fleet.
6. Taiping Rebellion
This workplace incident is rather obscure in the West, but worthy of remembrance. Hong Xiuquan went insane after failing the entrance exam for the Chinese bureaucracy too many times, and concluded both that he was the younger brother of Jesus Christ and that he had a future in entrepreneurship. He attempted to found his own Chinese empire to compete with the Qing Dynasty monopoly. 20 million perished in this particularly vicious dispute.
7. Roman Republic Board of Directors Fight
Back in 49 B.C., RomanRepublic was the biggest company around, but it was in turmoil as Julius Caesar and Pompey the Great, both members of the board of directors, each sought to become CEO. Pompey had the backing of the board of directors, but Caesar had the company’s rank and file, and used them to violently take over most of the company’s offices until Pompey was finally murdered during a business trip to Egypt.
Caesar’s tenure as undisputed CEO didn’t last, though. Dissatisfied with Caesar’s leadership, several members of the board of directors conspired against him, and in a boardroom power play in 46 B.C. they successfully terminated his position, along with his life. A few years later, increasingly severe workplace disputes caused RomanRepublic collapsed entirely, to be replaced by its reincorporated successor RomanEmpire.
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