Rightbloggers Denounce the Wealthy, Treasonous Schoolteachers of Wisconsin

tomt200.jpg The effort by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and the Republican-led state legislature to deprive the state's teachers of collective bargaining rights was catnip to rightbloggers last week. This is because it involves two of their traditional objects of hatred: Unions and public education.

You know things are serious when the intensely rightwing Andrew Breitbart's Big Government and the Washington Times actually use the famous communist President Franklin Roosevelt as a stick to beat the teachers' union. (Real Clear Politics even added, "FDR's Ghost Is Smiling on Wisconsin's Governor," perhaps in admiration of his nerve.)

Liberals suggest that Walker deliberately blew a hole in the state budget so that he could claim an economic necessity to deprive the local union of its traditional right to bargain. (This became easier to believe when the union offered concessions on wages -- it had made others previously -- and Walker ignored them.)

The apparent goal is to destroy the teachers' union. (See Joshua Treviño's Guardian column, accurately summarized by him as "my Guardian piece on the need to smash Wisconsin's public-sector unions.") But long acquaintance with conservative rhetoric suggests that their ultimate goal is to "smash" all unions, via anti-union front groups and legislation.

As we have seen in our own Labor Day coverage, and in countless excoriations of "Big Labor," rightbloggers are on the union-smashing case. The Wisconsin controversy has only strengthened their resolve against "international socialist labor unions." Some, like The Anchoress, admit that unions were perhaps useful once -- that is, back when their parents relied on unions to help them earn enough to feed and clothe their kids -- but now "unions have overplayed their hands, and we've reached a point of unsustainability."

In my day, we paid teachers with dried leaves and bread crumbs. Now they all want "decent wages" and "health care." Oooh, right away, Your Highness!
Since they hate unions, rightbloggers seemed to feel, they ought to hate the people who belong to them, too. So they heaped abuse on teachers.

National Review's Jay Nordlinger denounced teachers as "some of the most petulant, greediest, nastiest unionists around." While once upon a time, he said, "teachers were rather like missionaries. You practically had to take a vow of poverty to be a teacher," now they are "well paid," which Nordlinger considered an outrage.

Bookworm of Right-Wing News, while generous toward his own, underpaid teacher-father, called current teachers "well-paid cogs benefiting from the union's depredations," said that "because of tenure, too many incompetent teachers occupying America's classrooms, bringing the whole profession into disrepute" (he also blamed "women's lib"), and called the Wisconsin standoff "the public sector's Gettysburg or Midway or Battle of the Bulge." (We're sorry we couldn't summarize his argument more coherently, but look what we had to work with.)

Rightbloggers also claimed that teachers were outrageously highly-paid. Does this contradict your actual experience of teachers? Ours too. Rightbloggers had to play around with the numbers to make it look more convincing.

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