Chicago teachers union president on the rich: ‘Off with their heads!’

posted at 5:31 pm on January 9, 2013 by Mary Katharine Ham

From the leader of the unfailing public servants who brought you 350,000 Chicago students abandoned for two weeks, comes this gem. Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union:

In the clip, recorded Dec. 2 during her keynote address of the Illinois Labor History Society’s Union Hall of Honor dinner and posted on YouTube Monday, Lewis noted that an earlier generation of labor leaders resolved their differences with the rich with a very straightforward mantra: “Off with their heads.”

“Do not think for a minute that the wealthy are ever going to allow you to legislate their riches away from them,” Lewis told the audience at the event. “However, we are in a moment where the wealth disparity in this country is very reminiscent of the robber baron ages. The labor leaders of that time, though, were ready to kill. They were. They were just — off with their heads. They were seriously talking about that.”

Ah, yes, that is a “straightforward mantra.” In Huffington Post‘s version, the story is about “conservative ire” over a labor union head chortling over chopping off the heads of the rich since they won’t allow all their money to be legislated away. I would submit the story is the publicly indulged liberal fantasy of chopping off the heads of the rich, not the appropriately dispensed corresponding “ire.” The audience enjoys the moment, laughing at Lewis’ invocation of Robespierran remedies, as NRO put it, at which point Lewis generously allows, “I don’t think we’re at that point.” Yet.

Lewis goes on to justify her murderous fantasy by claiming—what else?—those richies are just trying to kill her!

That’s scary to most people. But the key is, they think nothing about killing us. They think nothing about putting our people in harm’s way. They think nothing about lethal working conditions.

The most recent strike was about whether the district could evaluate teachers using student test scores (party an Obama initiative), the length of the school day, and whether the district would have to hire teachers from a pool of laid-off teachers or could search for applicants elsewhere. Heroes, every single one of them.

A statement from Chicago Public Schools just barely, barely grazes Lewis for her comments.

CPS’ Chief Communications Officer Becky Carroll responded to the issue in a statement Tuesday, saying:

“Our focus is on our students and their education. This kind of rhetoric has no place in the work that must be done to address the issues facing our District. We all must look for constructive ways to address and resolve these very serious issues in order to best support the academic success of our children. “

You may remember Lewis from such idiocies as “Teach For America and charter schools kill kids,” and being reprimanded for making fun of Sec. of Education Arne Duncan’s lisp. Hero.

Exit video: Some stock footage of Lewis’ other keynote addresses over the years:


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