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Union Boss With History of Violence Decries Vitriolic Rhetoric of Right

Written By : Warner Todd Huston
January 12, 2011

Well, it’s the old “glass houses” story, isn’t it? AFL-CIO boss Richard Trumka weighed in on the criminal shooting in Arizona and naturally he blamed the whole incident on “too much vitriolic, hate-filled rhetoric that we hear on radio and television.” This from a guy who has many times used worse rhetoric to incite violence in his unionizing past. Glass houses indeed.


On the AFL-CIO blog, Trumka wrote:

We must find ways to passionately debate and even disagree with each other without using words that can give unstable individuals an incitement to engage in violent acts.

…We do not know why the shooter targeted Rep. Giffords, or if he was influenced—directly or indirectly—by the outrageous rhetoric that’s become all-too-common in our politics.

But “too much vitriolic, hate-filled rhetoric that we hear on radio and television has demonized public servants and candidates as “enemies” and has made them sounds less than human. In the short run, it may inspire passions and votes. But in the long run, it’s toxic to the survival of rational discussion in our democracy. And it’s not worthy of our great nation.

As Pete List of reminds us, Trumka’s rhetoric helped inspire stabbings and other criminal actions in his days as a young union organizer. In fact, Trumka was involved in the murder of one Eddie York back in 1993.

Then there’s the criminal actions of union thugs in 1989 during the violence soaked Pittson mining strike where Trumka’s followers used shotguns and car bombs to attack their enemies. Trumka was president of the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) at the time. He didn’t seem so worked up against the violence his boys employed back then.

So, yeah… Richard Trumka should know all about “vitriolic” rhetoric that leads to violence and murder. He knows it all to well. In fact, he’s pretty good at it.

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