The historical illiteracy of Wisconsin teachers; Update: Crosshairs, “Reload”
posted at 2:15 pm on February 17, 2011 by Ed Morrissey
Godwin’s Law states that any political argument, carried on long enough, will eventually provoke a Nazi reference. My own personal corollary to Godwin’s Law is that the first side to invoke it invariably loses, mainly because Nazis and Adolf Hitler are simply not analogous to normal politics in American democracy, unless one is discussing actual neo-Nazis. It exposes a clear lack of historical literacy about the Nazis and the history between the two World Wars of the last century. It’s the kind of argument favored by the relatively uneducated.
That’s what makes the protests in Wisconsin over Governor Scott Walker’s proposal to curtail the power of public-sector unions so deliciously ironic. Hot Air reader Tim R in Madison took his camera with him when he attended the large protests staged by the teachers against the budget bill that would require contributions for pensions and health insurance, as well as put new curbs on collective bargaining. Tim discovered signs like this at the protest yesterday at 6 pm just after the speakers concluded:
This is one of the milder examples, although it’s worth noting that teachers brought their students with them to the protest. I wonder if the same teacher holding this sign would discipline a student who wrote something similar on a chalkboard, with or without the underscores.
This seems to be a theme at the protests:
Er, Hitler? Why Hitler, of all possible comparisons? One of her colleagues helpfully held a sign to explain it:
First, Walker hasn’t “outlowed” unions, or even proposed outlawing them, either. Walker’s proposal would restrict negotiations with non-law-enforcement unions to wages only, and would require recertification votes each year. It would also make Wisconsin a right-to-work state, ending automatic deduction of union dues from paychecks and instead make them voluntary. That may put unions in a tough position to justify their continued representation, but it hardly outlaws the unions.
Besides, even if it did, it’s a fallacious argument. Hitler was also a vegetarian who owned a dog. Are all vegetarians Nazis? All dog owners? The Nazis aren’t history’s great villains because Hitler opposed public-sector unions. To equate that with Naziism isn’t just reprehensible, it’s downright ignorant and minimizes the actual horrors of Naziism.
That doesn’t stop Wisconsin educators from expanding on their theme:
What do you get when you cross Hosni Mubarak and Adolf Hitler? One ugly baby, that’s for sure, but not Scott Walker. Again, this appears to be a recurring theme in this teachers’ protest. (Also, it looks like anti-smoking efforts have been for naught in the classroom.)
But while we’re noticing just how poorly Wisconsin teachers do at history, it looks as though some of them might have problems with the present:
“Impeach Bush”? Maybe it’s a leftover sign from a few years ago. The Anchoress points out another sign at a different locale which reads “I AM THE FUTURE – I NEEN QUALITY TEACHERS.” From what we’ve seen of these protests, the entire state of Wisconsin is in need of quality teachers, and it looks like the union is the biggest impediment to getting them.
Meanwhile, Democrats in the Wisconsin Senate have gone AWOL in an attempt to avoid casting a vote on the bill:
A three-day-long stand-off at the Wisconsin state capitol between union supporters and those backing the Republican governor’s budget cuts just went to another level Thursday as Democratic senators apparently fled the state to prevent a vote on Gov. Scott Walker’s budget-repair bill, which would cut public employee union collective bargaining rights and require them to contribute to pensions and health care.
Law enforcement has been sent to find missing Democratic lawmakers, according to a Madison, Wis. ABC affiliate. State Sen. leader Scott Fitzgerald said only one Democrat is needed for quorum to vote on the controversial bill, which is expected to pass a Republican-majority Senate. The “Sergeant of Arms is going door to door to find Democratic senators.”
The budget-repair bill passed a finance committee 12-4 late last night, its last hurdle before a Senate vote, on party lines convincing Senate Democrats that moderate Republicans would not deliver them an upset victory over the Gov. Scott Walker.
They have to come home eventually, and they can’t avoid their responsibilities forever.