By BERRY CRAIG
AFT Local 1360
Early 20th-century capitalist powers-that-be hated and feared United Mine Workers of America union organizer Mary Harris “Mother” Jones. A U.S. district attorney dubbed her "the most dangerous woman in America.” The plutocracy agreed.
Move over Mother Jones. Make room for another labor leader, Randi Weingarten. She's “the most dangerous person in the world,” according to Mike Pompeo, Donald Trump’s CIA chief, secretary of state and possible challenger for the GOP presidential nod in 2024.
Added Pompeo, a West Point grad who also was a tea party-tilting Kansas congressman: “I tell the story often — I get asked, ‘Who’s the most dangerous person in the world? Is it Chairman Kim, is it Xi Jinping?"
Nope. He says it's the president of my union, the American Federation of Teachers.
Today's plutocracy and its defenders in politics like Pompeo despise labor leaders like Weingarten whose union "champions fairness; democracy; economic opportunity; and high-quality public education, healthcare and public services for our students, their families and our communities" and is "committed to advancing these principles through community engagement, organizing, collective bargaining and political activism, and especially through the work our members do."
Jones was unapologetically militant. She had to be; coal operators were bare-knuckles union-busters who hired private armies and even called on machine-gun armed National Guard troops to keep the UMWA at bay. “She was banished from more towns and was held incommunicado in more jails in more states than any other union leader of the time,” according to the AFL-CIO. “In 1912, she was even charged with a capital offense by a military tribunal in West Virginia and held under house arrest for weeks until popular outrage and national attention forced the governor to release her.”
Though we live in a world where thuggish dictators are a dime a dozen, Pompeo chose to slander a democratically-elected president and a free trade union: "If you ask, ‘Who’s the most likely to take this republic down?’ It would be the teacher’s unions, and the filth that they’re teaching our kids, and the fact that they don’t know math and reading or writing.”
Does Pompeo really believe the asinine hyperbole he's spewing? Probably not. But with his sights evidently set on the White House and Trump already an announced candidate, he likely figures that a good way to peel off some of the MAGA base is to crank up the demagoguery against that old hard-right bugbear, teacher unions.
At any rate, Weingarten returned fire on Twitter: “I know that Mike Pompeo is running for president, and frankly, I don’t know whether to characterize his characterization in the @daveweigel interview as ridiculous or dangerous.” She said when Pompeo ran the state department, he stuck up for the "Middle East’s tyrants & undermined Ukraine. He was more focused on pleasing Trump than fighting 4 freedom, national security & democracy. To compare us to China means he must not know what his own department says."
Heretofore, Pompeo has been among the most oleaginous of Trump toadies. But if he really wanted to distance himself from Trump as a candidate, HuffPost's Ron Dicker proposed that he "could have said his insurrection-fomenting ex-boss was the most dangerous.”
Dicker added that after all, Pompeo has “been criticizing Trump as he ponders a challenge to him and others in the GOP for a presidential run. Or he could have said Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose unprovoked invasion of Ukraine has led to thousands dying and a spike in global tension.”
Weingarten also schooled Pompeo on Twitter, explaining that AFT fights “for freedom, democracy, and an economy that works for all. We fight for what kids & communities need. Strong public schools that are safe and welcoming, where kids learn how to think & work with others. That’s the American Dream!”
Of course, unions are the American nightmare to Pompeo, Trump and just about every Republican nowadays.
Okay, the world's most dangerous? Judge for yourself. North Korea under Kim and China under Xi are brutal communist dictatorships. Both countries are nuclear powers capable of blowing up sizeable chunks of Mother Earth.
Weingarten is a democratically-elected union president. The AFT is a nuke-free zone.
Kim and XI run large, well-trained and well-equipped military machines. If Weingarten commands any soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines, I’ve never seen any of them at union meetings.