NEA to Projo: We Own the Monopoly on Calling People Fascists

In Tuesday’s Projo, columnist Edward Achorn wrote…

Though Rhode Islanders are independent-minded enough to vote for people from both parties for governor, the public-employee unions and welfare industry now control large voting blocks, and have the money and storm troopers to swing legislative elections fairly reliably to their hand-picked candidates.
Robert Walsh, Executive Director of the National Education Association’s Rhode Island Chapter, objects (via RI Future)…
The Journal should be embarrassed and ashamed that a member of its editorial board, and an editor of these pages, equated Nazi soldiers with union members, and should apologize immediately.
Which doesn’t mean, of course, that the local NEA staff isn’t prone to equating their opponents to fascists. From a Pat Crowley (an Assistant Executive Director with the NEA-RI) post also at RI Future…
To hear teacher salaries spoken of in certain circles (like talk radio or fascist blogs) you would think that they are all making six figures.
So does Mr. Walsh also believe that Mr. Crowley needs to apologize for calling blogs he disagrees with “fascists”?
Possible line of defense from the NEA team: Nobody really believes that Pat Crowley has any serious understanding of what the term “fascist” means. He just uses the term as a stand-in for “anyone who disagrees with me”. We demand that Edward Achorn be held to a higher standard.

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Greg
Greg
13 years ago

Walsh loses a lot of credibility on this issue when his own lapdog can’t form a complete sentence without insulting somebody (or giving them the finger).
I’m sure he’d pop Pat, but he’s protected by a union. He’d probably just bump someone that’s actually QUALIFIED to do their job.

Tom W
Tom W
13 years ago

>>To hear teacher salaries spoken of in certain circles (like talk radio or fascist blogs) you would think that they are all making six figures.
Missed that one. Rare are my visits to RI Future (it’s good for the occasional laugh).
When one factors in add-ons like longevity pay and degree pay; plus the value full-time gold-plated benefit health and dental plans; plus the present value of the employer i.e., taxpayer) contribution to their pensions and OPEB (Other Post-Retirement Benefits) such as health care; top-step teachers (which they hit after only ten years) get a six-figure compensation package – FAR into six figures when you pro-rate for only a nine-month school year …
And even more so if you pro-rate to by hours worked in a year, since they don’t work an eight-hour day during those nine months; have 20-ish paid sick days a year, personal days; professional development days; etc. etc. etc.
The teachers unions deliberately (and the media out of ignorance – innocent or deliberate) focus only on the base salary figures – but that is only one menu item in the teachers compensation buffet.

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
13 years ago

it’s easy to call pat crowley names-I know I have,but I think it is more instructive to point out that he lacks english usage skills-I’m not talking about the typos we all make on the internet,but actual incorrect usage,particularly of homonyms(now pat will claim I hate gay people)and this wouldn’t matter a whole lot if it weren’t for the fact that he represents an organization of EDUCATORS-and we wonder why kids are functionally illiterate after being taught according to NEA dictates

michael
michael
13 years ago

Ed Achorn’s use of inflamatory words such as “stormtroopers” when describing union members is well planned. Tom W. uses another of his terms, “gold plated benefits.” in a comment here. “Union thugs.” “Feeding at the public trough.” “Tax Hell RI.” ( borrowed from Bloomberg Magazine) are just a few. The usage of these words and phrases become commonplace, people with no real information slowly start to believe what they hear.
While “Tax Hell RI” is a good description of our current climate, and “gold plated benefits” is somewhat true, when compared to the decaying benefits private sector workers have been subjected to, “Stormtroopers,” “Feeding at the Trough,” and all the others are blatant insults directed at a group of people. It is undignified in any conversation and worse when read in a respected editorialists column.

rhody
rhody
13 years ago

Nazi imagery is so outdated.
Achorn is more like a captain of the Elite Republican Guard.

Pat Crowley
Pat Crowley
13 years ago

I count 13 grammar and/or capitalization errors in Joe B’s critique of my writing ability. I also note that he offered no examples.
Sorry Joe. I’d be happy to offer remedial skills training at no cost at all.

Will
13 years ago

It’s interesting that the NEA would automatically equate the use of the word “stormtroopers” with the word “Nazi.” But again, accuracy in education was never one of their strong points.
Ed Achorn used the former word, not the latter. The context of the word was obviously meant to suggest the people the unions provide, who swoop in on election day, and help / hurt candidates who follow (or don’t follow) their agenda. They always seem to have the day off to “help”. Unless someone wants to deliberately substitute one word with the other, for the purpose of confusing people who didn’t actually read the original article, I think we should criticize people for what they actually say, not for what we would have liked them to say.
PS Maybe it’s a generational thing, but I would associate the word “stormtrooper” with the folks in Star Wars. I guess that would put the Death Star in Cranston, and would make Bob and Pat, the Emperor and Darth Vader, or would it be vice-versa? 😉

Greg
Greg
13 years ago

“I count 13 grammar and/or capitalization errors in Joe B’s critique of my writing ability. I also note that he offered no examples.”
OK, I’ll start:
“you have a very narrow idea of what special needs are – it is not simply Down syndrome and mental retardation.”
Firstly, try starting a sentence with proper capitalization. Secondly it’s “Down’s Syndrome”.
Who’s next? There are plenty of examples out there.

Justin Katz
13 years ago

I’m with Will. I hear “stormtroopers,” and I think guys in white and black armor who are easily persuaded with the Force.

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
13 years ago

pat-“where” for “wear” to start with-and I have a challenge-let’s you and I submit to a general knowledge test given by a neutral third party-no immigration law questions for you and no math questions for me-sound fair?
as far as punctuation and capitalization-you ever hear of james joyce or e e cummings?i don’t think you can find a single instance where i used the wrong word to explain what i was saying-aren’t you supposed to be in nyc?or was that your sophomoric idea of a joke for april 1?

Tom W
Tom W
13 years ago

>>and would make Bob and Pat, the Emperor and Darth Vader, or would it be vice-versa?
For me, as to “Bob and Pat,” Dr. Evil and Mini-me come to mind. But perhaps that’s a generational thing too. 😉

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
13 years ago

pat-here’s another gem of yours-“what ever i right”presumably meaning “whatever i write”-did you have a “leminade”stand as a kid?

Monique
Editor
13 years ago

“I would associate the word “stormtrooper” with the folks in Star Wars”
That was my reaction as well.
If you can’t pound the facts, pound the table.
(Or name call.)

Monique
Editor
13 years ago

… actually, that should be:
“or make wild accusations.”
Unfortunately for the NEARI, Achorn has the facts on his side.

Bob Walsh
Bob Walsh
13 years ago

Children of the 80’s (and Tom W, who is closer to my age),
Do you also think that George Lucas invented the term “storm troopers”? Did you understand the title of Achorn’s commentary (“The only thing we have to fear . . .”) as the 1932 FDR reference that it was? Achorn was not referring to Star Wars when he made the reference.
Remember your Niemoller (or, sigh, look it up if your don’t):
When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.
When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.
When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.
When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I wasn’t a Jew.
When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.

Pat Crowley
Pat Crowley
13 years ago

Sorry JB, but people in glass house and all. By the way, thanks for the email. It goes along with the other ones. I just wonder why you don’t post publicly what you say privately…

Will
13 years ago

I’m very familiar with Niemoller, mainly because he’s often trotted out when it’s not relevant. Nice try, Bob.
Perhaps the difference between you and the rest of us is that we don’t see Nazis lurking behind every corner out to get us. So, are you equating our government with that of Nazi Germany? Do tell.
PS For students of actual history, not just an imagined one, I would remind you of two things: the Nazis did not come to power in Germany until 1933, so the 1932 FDR reference of “fear” is not germane. More importantly, the Nazis did not create “stormtroopers”… They were of World War I origin under the Kaiser.
From Wikipedia: The Stormtroopers (in German Stoßtruppen, shock troops) were specialist military troops which were formed in the last years of World War I as the German army developed new methods of attacking enemy trenches, called “infiltration tactics”. Men trained in these methods were known in German as Sturmmann (literally “assault man” but usually translated as Stormtrooper), formed into companies of Sturmtruppen (Storm Troops). Other armies have also used the term “assault troops”, “shock troops” or fire teams for specialist soldiers who perform the infiltration tasks of stormtroopers.

Mike Cappelli
Mike Cappelli
13 years ago

I would like to know why those in public sector unions feel that they should be immune to the realities of life with respect to making the same from one year to the next. I’m not even talking about making less, or losing you job, but just the same – as in no raise.
Everyone in the private sector – those who pay the salaries for public sector workers (and that the drivel that you pay taxes, too) has to deal with the economic uncertainties of life.
Maybe you can answer that question Bob Walsh. When people all around me, including me, are making less money, losing jobs, not getting overtime, not getting bonuses and are experiencing the pain, what is it that makes you in public sector unions feel as though you shouldn’t pitch in to blunt the pain that we are all feeling?

Monique
Editor
13 years ago

So storm troopers precede Nazi Germany and, therefore, the original complaint is invalid.
But now Niemoller’s famous poem has been invoked. Therefore, we have to ask:
Mr. Walsh, who in modern day Rhode Island are you equating to the victim’s in Niemoller’s poem?

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
13 years ago

crowley-i don’t mind saying it publicly-i suggested you take the subway to where i grew up and take a long walk around in the evening-if it sounded nasty and sarcastic it was meant to-i have seen you spout nonsense on tv-call people fascists at the drop of a hat,and generally make an ass of yourself on ri’s future-as i told your pal jerzyk here,if you find that i’m being untruthful call me on it,otherwise cram it where the sun don’t shine you weasel

Tom W
Tom W
13 years ago

I have to admit that these days when one hears or reads “storm troopers” the most likely imagery that comes to mind is Nazism.
I’ll stipulate that Achorn’s choice of words could have been better. OTOH, I don’t think his use of the phrase is so egregious that anyone should get all bent out of shape over it.
In any case, Achorn is right overall regarding the underlying problem – the public sector unions’ hijacking of the political machinery for their special interest enrichment.

Tim
Tim
13 years ago

Monique
In the Rhode Island version of Martin Niemoller’s poem the victims are the taxpayers of Rhode Island and the THEY are Walsh and his goose-stepping brethren in the Democratic party.
For a robotic hack like Walsh to cite Martin Niemoller is the height of hilarity. As proven time and time again these progressives truly are deranged. lol

Pat Crowley
Pat Crowley
13 years ago

Carroll, Mr. Goldberg’s self serving definition is typical. Here is a better definition. Who does this describe? http://www.doublestandards.org/fascism1.html Laurence Britt identifies social and political agendas common to fascist regimes. His comparisons of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia), and Pinochet (Chile) yielded this list of 14 identifying characteristics of fascism. [The notes have been added.] 1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism. Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays. [1] 2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights. Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of ‘need.’ The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc. [2] 3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause. The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial, ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc. [3] 4. Supremacy of the Military. Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. [4a] Soldiers and military service are glamorized. [4b] 5. Rampant Sexism. The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Opposition to abortion is high [5a], as is homophobia and anti-gay legislation [5b] and national policy. 6. Controlled Mass Media. Sometimes the media are directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media are indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially… Read more »

Justin Katz
13 years ago

Fortunately, Pat, I don’t have to devote much time to a response to your list, because most of the readers here will see the stunning applicability of most of the qualities that you cite to modern progressives, while you can be relied upon to remain deaf. I mean, come on:
1. Che. That fist picture.
2. Right to life. Freedom of association and speech. Hate speech legislation.
3. Common foe: Bush and the neocons. (You can call Rev. Wright for the extended list.)
4. Can’t help but see attacks on the second amendment as an inverse manifestation of this.
5. This one will differ by definition and is partly a product of convenient selection and partly of chronology.
6. Are you kidding?
7. I’ll quote (approximately) Cameron Diaz: “If you want rape to be legal, vote for Republicans.” You’re a master of this sort of thing, too.
8. As we’ve argued before, around here, progressives have formed a godless religion to promote in this place.
9. Interesting point, Mr. Assistant Executive Director.
10. Rewritten history. Ever look up the definition and history of the word “fascio”?
11. Oh, no, conservative academics are never censored. And think of all those Christian artists who receive National Endowment for the Arts grants.
12. Sounds like a good way to control transfat ingestion and enforce recycling.
13. Ha. Ha ha!
14. Yup, and liberal Rhody is a great place to study this.

Tom W
Tom W
13 years ago

Gee, Pat Crowley’s posted characteristics are (not)surprisingly reminiscent of organized labor! >>1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism. Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays. [1] Union / AFL-CIO labels; stickers; t-shirts. SEIU’s purple shirts. “Look for the union label!” >>2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights. Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of ‘need.’ The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc. Though different in degree, labor unions ignore human rights by forcing membership and dues (“closed shop”) upon the unwilling. “Union democracy” is typically also a sham: public voting instead of secret ballots; only being able to vote for some local officials but not for the national leadership. Organized labor is also pushing the Orwellian named “Employee Free Choice Act” – which will effectively eliminate secret ballot elections in the union organizing process – 100% of a workforce will be forced into unionization (and dues paying) if 50% + 1 employee “sign cards” (called “card check recognition”)… cards that are collected by union organizers. Picture a group of Teamsters visiting the homes of employees and in front of their spouse and kids and “convincing” the employee that he/she wants to sign that card to join the Teamsters, and you’ll get the idea behind why organized labor sees that Act as the ticket to dues riches). >>3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause. The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or… Read more »

michael
michael
13 years ago

It is amazing how people can read the same thing and comprehend the meaning to fit thier particular views. I’m not picking sides, just making an observation. I don’t think labor unions are fascist in nature, nor do I think republicans are fascist. I am thankful that our representative democracy forces both sides to compromise now and then. Under a fascist dictatorship there can be only one view, that being whoever managed to scrape their way to power. We can pontificate all we want but never make the people with opposing views see things our way. It doesn’t make the other side evil, dishonest or wrong, just different.

Joe Mahn
Joe Mahn
13 years ago

Is that actually Walsh and Crowley responding?
The days of the NEA are numbered. Soon (2010) sanity in the form of vouchers and even privatization will bring RI back from the brink.
Remember HOPE is our state motto.
joe bernstein? You are a third grader right? Clean up your act man. This is the public square and you have stains, stains, stains everywhere.
JM

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
13 years ago

i don’t know who you are JM and and could care less what you think,but if you know so much about me put it out there

Frank
Frank
13 years ago

Michael, in light of the many thoughtful points made above, what is it about unions that makes you feel that they are not fascist organizations?
I am trying to keep an open mind here and since you did not support your statement in any way I’m just wondering how you formed your opinion.

michael
michael
13 years ago

fas·cism [ fá shìzzəm ] or Fas·cism [ fá shìzzəm ]
noun
Definition:
dictatorial movement: any movement, ideology, or attitude that favors dictatorial government, centralized control of private enterprise, repression of all opposition, and extreme nationalism
To be honest I never gave it much thought. I always equated fascism with Stalin, Mussilini and Hitler and can’t see how they and orginized labor have anything in common. I looked up the definition of fascism and still see no direct link. One could argue that unions seek centralized control of private enterprize but that is a stretch. Repression of all opposition may stick, and probably does, but the survival instinct inherant in most of us makes individuals as complicit as a union of individuals. We certainly don’t want a dictatorial government and pride in our country exists regardless of our union status.

Tom W
Tom W
13 years ago

To add some clarity regarding my post on unions and fascism (in response to Pat Crowley’s post): my intentions were mixed. To some extent there was a bit of sarcasm / tongue in cheek and intent to “tweak” Mr. Crowley. But there was also a serious element too. While I would certainly not equate organized labor as being equivalent to the fascist regimes of Nazi Germany and the like, there are some philosophical similarities in their establishment and operation. In essence fascism; communism; socialism; liberalism-progressivism and organized labor are all about subordination of the individual (and individual liberty) to a collective: a collective in the form of a nation state, economic (“working”) class, or labor union. As George Orwell so brilliantly parodied in the book Animal Farm, collectivism inherently concentrates power within a “leadership” (government / political party / union bosses), and seeks to keep and maintain and increase its power by forcing individuals into the collective, or at least to obey it and maintain subservience to it. As to labor unions, like many human institutions their practice in action is often at variance both with the theory underlying their establishment and how they portray themselves. In theory private-sector unions equalize bargaining power between employees and management; and this does occur (though not universally). But as collectivist organizations they also concentrate power at the top, force people into “membership,” and somewhat like politicians with the cookie jar of forcibly extracted tax revenue, union bosses all too typically see the stream of forced dues money coming in the door as a personal piggy bank or assets with which to provide jobs and other perks for friends and relatives. Human nature is such that the greater the concentration of power, the greater the likelihood of abuse … indeed the inevitability of abuse.… Read more »

michael
michael
13 years ago

The vision of unions, public and private sector has been effectively blurred by years of imagery both in print and other media. Those sympathetic to or members of unions disregard the messages, those hostile toward unions suck it in.
Just grouping the following; fascism; communism; socialism; liberalism-progressivism and organized labor in the same sentance suggests to those looking to solidify their biased view of the unions their opinions are indeed valid, the unions are a communist, socialist tick sucking the blood of the taxpayer. Examples of this relentless attack can be found on most editorial pages and talk radio shows. People hear and read what they want to hear and read.
I have been a union member for seventeen years. Many family members are union members. Never were any of us persuaded to do anything that went against our beliefs. Union membership is a tiny part of our lives. Catagorizing a person because of their membership in a union is ridiculous. Likening union members to fascists equally so.

Joe Mahn
Joe Mahn
13 years ago

joe bernstein:
I have no idea who you are either. The stains refer to your disrespect for your fellow bloggers who take the time and make the effort to write coherent sentences and use (for the most part) proper punctuation, syntax and grammar in their posts.
Ideas have consequences. You would serve your ideas better if you used the written word with the respect it is due. Buy yourself an English handbook and follow the bloody rules.
JM

Joe Mahn
Joe Mahn
13 years ago

Unions and Fascism It seems to me that the analogic nature of words and also these ideas (Unions and Fascism) is causing some confusion, or is being used to confuse the essential focus of this debate. There are elements of unions that are wholly acceptable and there are elements that are not. Recruitment of members is fine. It is when membership is absolutely mandatory or coerced by thuggery or worse that a line is crossed. Dues are appropriate. It is when these monies are used inappropriately to feather the nests of leaders or buy the influence, or worse, the vote of an elected public official that corruption rears its ugly head. Leadership is key to the organization of any group, even one whose main purpose is to exert the power of the many over the few for the good of the many. It is when that leadership uses the power of the many to intimidate and terrorize the few into acquiescing to some egregious or otherwise corrupt action or activity that is good for them but bad for the greater community that revolution becomes an option. Hence we have unions in our state that act, many times, for the good of their members with no regard (and in some cases with contempt) for the greater good of the community at large. This is at its best called savvy negotiating and at its worst greed but not necessarily fascism. At the same time some of these unions use fascist thuggery and fear tactics to maintain their power and influence, and so the invocation of “storm troopers” to describe the tactics of some union leaders (who do remind us of evil emperors and dark lords of the sith) and also thereby the reference to some elements of fascism. I know several union… Read more »

rhody
rhody
13 years ago

Do we union members in the private sector need to start practicing our goosestepping, too?
Hey, getting angry at all these insults and lies about unions takes years off one’s life. I choose to laugh at them instead.

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
13 years ago

JM-Now that you have explained what you mean,I am not even mildly offended because I do get a lot of criticism for run on sentences,etc.
Strangely, on my former job as an INS agent,my reports were considered models of brevity and clarity.
I thought you were trying to say you had some derogatory information about me,in which case I would think it would be the decent thing to accuse me specifically of one thing or another.
I got the impression you didn’t like what NEA does either so I was confused about why you’d have a beef with me.
Some good writers in the fiction area write ungrammatcally.
BTW I have a degree in Criminal Justice from John Jay College where I was on the Dean’s List each semester and was 9th in a class of 143 at Session 110 of the US Border Patrol Academy(okay,it’s not Harvard).
Now if you want to see me at my dumbest just fire away with a math question.

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