Goon Squad

There have been numerous reports of thuggish behavior by teachers’ union supporters in Wisconsin and elsewhere. For example, here’s a Daily Caller story about a man–apparently a union operative or supporter–who attempted to disconnect the speaker system being used by the Tea Party group, and then shoved an individual who attempted to reconnect it. See also our political process has been stopped by a mob:

On Thursday, legislators were advised to return to their offices and lock their doors. Mobs roamed the halls, banging on the glass of the doors, pounding on the walls. No one could move in the halls or enter or leave the building. The glass of the Supreme Court’s entrance was broken. Legislators were genuinely afraid. Our elected representatives were afraid. In our Capitol.

A young female reporter trying to get into the Senate chamber struggled to get through the crowd. She arrived disheveled and upset because she had been roughed up as she tried to get through “Bitch-slapped” the mob told her. A senior senator was spat on. A senator and his female staffer struggled to get into the capitol. He was worried about his staffer because the crowd was grabbing at her and pushing her. University Police were two arms lengths away and did nothing. They, of course, are union.

Blogger Ann Althouse, a law professor who lives in Madison, received a death threat after posting a video of protest-related activities.

Nor is this sort of thing limited to Wisconsin. In Idaho, the superintendent of public instruction, Tom Luna, has proposed some measures the teachers’ union doesn’t like. The response:

Someone went to his mother’s house — his mother’s. Someone slashed his tires and spray-painted a threat onto the door.

Of course, historically, there has always been a certain amount of violence associated with labor disputes–violence initiated by unions, and, if you go back far enough, by management. But for decades, until very recently, such violence had been dying down.

Another factor now included in the mix, though, is the anti-free-speech, anti-civility, and often outright thuggish behavior which has been incubated in, tolerated by, and sometimes even encouraged by far too many of America’s universities. See for example my post from way back in 2002 about violence and intimidation at San Francisco State University, Concordia College (Toronto), and UC Berkeley. In that post, I quoted Laurie Zoloth, a campus Jewish leader at SFSU:

This is the Weimar republic with Brownshirts it cannot control.

Or, in many cases, I suspect, doesn’t want to control.

As I said in the above-linked post, in response to Laurie Zoloth’s point about brownshirts:

Most Americans think of Naziism in its final state, in control of the machinery of the German government along with its police and military forces. But Naziism did not start this way. It started as a group of street rowdies, committing illegal violence to intimidate political opponents. Without such intimidation, it is unlikely that the Nazis would ever have been able to obtain control of the German government.

The rise of political violence is a serious threat to American democracy. Although not limited to the college campuses, the current wave of violence and intimidation has largely originated there. University presidents have often allowed leftist and “progressive” groups to take clearly illegal actions, such as stealing and destroying opposition newspapers, and to get away with it…indeed, they have sometimes acted as if their campuses were extraterritorial jurisdictions, in which the laws of the United States did not apply. And for years, campus “postmodern” philosphers have been arguing that speech is merely another form of action, and that free speech needs to be restricted in the service of “higher” goals. Once this philosophical position is accepted, then the use of actual violence to suppress differing viewpoints is arguably not very far away.

Links via Commonsense & Wonder, Glenn Reynolds, and Sister Toldjah

17 thoughts on “Goon Squad”

  1. We need unions for public employees because the American people are greedy, selfish facists who exploit helpless workers. The world would be better off if the American public were in jail but they have political connections so this will never happen. Therefore union members must unite and fight these evil exploiters who are the American public so that union member can truimph over the dogs who are the American public and send them back to their kennels! Public eemployees of the World Unite. You have nothing to lose but your chains!!!!

    I have seen the enemy and they are us.

  2. Today is a big day here in Madison as the legislature is scheduled to start business again in about an hour. If the capitol police in there can’t handle it, Walker will have no choice but to call in the national guard/state police and restore order. I really, really don’t want pictures of guys in fatigues with automatic weapons standing in front of the chambers’ doors beamed across the world.

    You can watch the action here.

  3. The mob won’t know what to do if the National Guard shows up. They think they can do a 1969 on the troops. Well,it isn’t 1969, when the Guard was full of people whose reason for service was to avoid Vietnam. This Guard has combat experience and is a professional force. They will restore order without excessive violence.

  4. Things seem to be going smoothly…so far. The seanate has adjourned without incident, after passing a few resolutions including a farm bill and a resolution to honor the Packers. There was no gallery in the senate – I don’t remember if there are seats in there or not. The assembly is going through business right now. The gallery in the assy. is quiet but the only legislation so far is a resolution to honor the cops, who I admit have done a great job.

  5. The unions must have Mike Tyson advising them on public relations. They simply don’t understand that the battle is being fought in the public perception – not on the steps of the capitol building in Madison. That is merely the stage. They needed to portray themselves as dedicated, honest, hard working civil servants rather than the lazy slugs most people think of when they picture public employees. Instead they have not only opened their arms to welcome a drunken, ignorant rabble of the worst of society, but have gone out of their way to bus them in and encouraged their destructiv behavior. Hundreds of well dressed, well behaved legitimate teachers holding candlelight vigils after school and into the night might have had a powerful impact if for no other reason than that they would have created sympathetic imagery for their friends in the liberal media to build on. Instead they are cementing the perception of thelselves as wholly undeserving of sympathy or support, and in the long term maing easy for the governor and conservative media to make the case against them.

  6. Michael has a point; that’s exactly the kind of confrontation the union would like to provoke, because they know how their friends in the mainstream media will use the photos to create propaganda. From Dan’s note, it sounds like things are going fairly smoothly so far. Perhaps if the legislature continues with routine business for a few days the protest will lose some steam. Then they can quickly pass something like the voter ID bill and then recess and get away from the building to see what happens. If the protesters find out too late and come to the Capital for a confrontation, only to find no one there, they are likely to trash the place — now there are some photos that won’t work in the union’s favor.

  7. I have the assembly on the speakers in my office. They are debating, but this is going to be a long, long day. The gallery is being well bahaved. Either that or WisEye has excellent crowd noise cancelling microphones.

    Believe it or not they aren’t even debating the bill yet, they are wrangling about an allegedly illegal parliamentary move by the speaker pro tem on Friday. 2.5 hours into it now.

  8. Watching the video stream of the Assembly live.

    What in hell are those orange shirts the legislators are wearing?

    Getting a little ‘testy’ now. Might heat up just a bit.

  9. Of course, historically, there has always been a certain amount of violence associated with labor disputes–violence initiated by unions…

    That is because unions have to use violence to extort their above market pay, benefits and conditions. Unions can only work by eliminating economic competition and forming monopolistic cartels. In the past, it had never occurred to anyone that one person had the right to dictate to others how they worked or ran their businesses. Unions had to resort to violence to force their will on others. Eventually, the violence got so bad that the government just gave up and institutionalized the violence in the violence based coercive power of the state. Now, if you try to compete with privileged union workers, the government will hurt you instead of union goons. However, as demonstrated above, the inherent violence of unions is always just beneath the surface.

    …and, if you go back far enough, by management.

    That is actually largely myth. If you dig down under the superficial and self-serving pro-union narratives you will find that in the majority of cases, violence by management was in response to overt violence on the part of unionist. The bloodiest battles were all cases of unionist in mass trying to attack and even murder “scabs” (competing workers) while the company “goons” tried to prevent a slaughter. In the vast, vast majority of cases, all instances of company violence were preceded by unionist violence.

    But Naziism did not start this way. It started as a group of street rowdies, committing illegal violence to intimidate political opponents.

    This is kind of true but misses the bigger picture. The brownshirts enabled the Nazi rise to power not because they silenced opposition but because they could cast themselves as defenders of social order by responding to the violence initiated by communist red shirts. The historical record is very clear that street violence and political intimidation by bully boys began with the Reds. Orderly Germans would have never supported a party that initiated violence without cause. The Nazis could always justify themselves by pointing out the very real and wide spread violence of the reds.

  10. Shannon, I concur that most of the Pinkerton stories are apocryphal. Even acknowledging that some of it was true, that was a century ago. How much longer will we allow unions to keep waving that bloody shirt?

    As far as the redshirts and brownshirts, I do think it would be a mistake for Walker to call out the National Guard at this time. The unions are clearly spoiling for a physical confrontation, because they know that if they can force one, the voters may well take the pox-on-both-their-houses attitude and tune the whole thing out. If that happens, the status quo is preserved and the unions win. That’s why we see Walker being careful here: he has stated that in his opinion the stripping of the collective bargaining rights is a fiscal matter and requires the three-fifths quorum. Walker wants to make sure that his side is clearly positioned as the scrupulously ethical side. The Democrats are already doing metaphorical violence to Wisconsin voters, and in my view it’s quite possible that they will do physical violence at the Capitol. I can see where they will vandalize or even set fire to the Capitol building. Imagine the symbolism of that. The building can be rebuilt, but the unions will have a very hard time rebuilding their reputation if that happens.

  11. Dan From Madison

    Cousin Dave – my god I hope it doesn’t come down to that!

    Dan, I also hope so, but my hope is informed by my past training.

    When dealing with an opponent, do not try to judge what your opponent is going to do based first on your reading of what you think his intentions are. Your reading a) may be wrong even if you can get inside the other guy’s head, and b) every attempt at reading the intentions of an opponent suffers the grave risk of projection of your own mindset, value system, and thought processes into your reading of the other side. This leads, inevitably, to being blindsided by events.

    q.v. the oil embargo we placed on Japan July and August 1941 in the belief that once they saw that we had the whip hand they would be good sports and back down. That was the proximate cause of Japan’s decision to go to war at that specific time, rather than back down. We would have had war eventually, but we were taken by surprise in large part because our diplomats believed that the Japanese thought like good Ivy League graduates instead of Samurai. Similarly, our frequent failures to understand the differences between us and Islamic culture and thought processes have led to a number of bad results. We barely had enough overlap between ourselves and the Soviets to make deterrence work.

    You deal first with an opponent’s capabilities. If you can handle what they can do, it means less danger if you are wrong judging their intentions. Then, and only then, do you try to judge their future course of actions, basing that in part on their historical record.

    Does the Left [Unions, the Democratic Party, and 1960’s Weatherman wanna-be’s] that are trying to overturn representative democracy and the rule of law have the capability of physical violence against persons and property if they do not get their way? As sure as gravity and the second law of thermodynamics.

    Do they have a history, especially recent history, of going outside the law to achieve their ends?

    The last couple of decades have been marked by the use of extra-legal tactics, including violence, by the Left and for which they have claimed a higher moral standing that exempts them from the laws and rules of society. Tactically, they have been successful in this.

    Look at the automatic demonstrations whenever any international group that is either to the right of Trotsky or who has an Israeli speaker meets in this country. Violence, property damage, frequently aided and abetted by the Left in government who prevent punishment. Look at the widespread vote fraud perpetrated by the Left with impunity. [Milwaukee frequently casts more votes than the number of men, women, children, and household pets detected by the Census. And one of the lines in the sand for Democrats is to prevent any form of proof of ID and/or citizenship to vote that might prevent vote fraud.]

    Look at the sad state of the rule of law. Just a few instances: What happened to settle commercial law when the administration wanted to seize GM and Chrysler and give them to the Unions? They ignored over a century of settled law to steal from the secured creditors and give it to their supporters. What happened armed New Black Panther Party members physically intimidated white [and presumably not pro-Obama] voters at the polls? The Attorney General dropped all charges AFTER they had pled guilty, and is withholding subpoenaed documents that are reported to say that they will NOT protect the civil rights of whites. Look at the cramdown of Obamacare, where Republicans were not allowed to see, debate, or amend it. Look at the two cases where the administration is deliberately ignoring Federal Court orders, and getting away with it.

    Look at the current situation in Madison; where the Unions are engaged in illegal wildcat strikes, where Leftist professionals are openly violating the law and medical ethics; all in the secure belief that they are immune from punishment. Look at your Fugitive 14, and see how much respect they have for the law, the constitution, and elections. And look at the property damage and physical assaults that have taken place inside the Capitol building. Note that they were committed in sight and arms reach of Unionized Law Enforcement Officers; and nothing was done.

    The Left in Madison has every belief, and it is probably justified, that they will not be called to account for any crimes that they commit. There have been threats to the Governor, members of the Legislature, and their families in their homes.

    Union thugs and Obama’s OFA have bussed in reinforcements. OFA is the street action arm of the White House. [their website since the 2008 campaign has been] The DNC is funding your Fugitive 14 in violation of your state’s campaign finance laws. [see comment on Saturday Night at the Protest, Part Two below].

    Most of us have been looking at the political gamesmanship involved. At every turn, when the voters or the law has defeated the Left, they have “doubled down” and turned to means outside the law, including violence. You have to make the rational assumption that there is a high probability of Leftist violence if they lose politically. The people who have been threatened before, are at literal risk for their lives. Some governors are pushovers, like Daniels of Indiana who just turned his whole state over to the Unions in the belief that the Democrats are too nice to repeat the runaway tactic if he surrenders. Governor Walker is made of sterner stuff, it seems.

    The Left will double down, and escalate. And they are sure that they will not be punished by law enforcement or the courts, and the actions of the police inside the Capitol would seem to confirm it. They have no disincentive not to resort to violence. I judge the probability as > 50%. YMMV. And I also hope I am wrong, but I don’t think so.

    Subotai Bahadur

  12. Update to post above.

    A Democratic Congressman has called on public unions to commit violence against the TEA Party. “Every once and awhile you need to get out on the streets and get a little bloody when necessary”.

    I note that Congressman Capuano is the leading candidate to run for the US Senate against Scott Brown.

    And in reference to my point about safely assuming immunity from consequences, have you seen this in any MSM outlet? Why? And what would be the reaction be if a Republican Congressman had made a similar statement while addressing a TEA Party rally?

    I am not sanguine about the outcome.

    Subotai Bahadur

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