Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

December 21, 2012

Violence in Michigan gets little play


— Welcome to another installment of "President Obama was just kidding" when he talked repeatedly during the presidential campaign of wanting to make sure we live in a country where "everybody plays by the same rules."

Really? Try a little experiment. Turn the sound off on your computer, and then watch some video from this past week of demonstrations in Lansing, Mich.

Go to Instapundit.com, and watch news commentator Steve Crowder get sucker punched multiple times by obscenity shrieking protesters. You don't need the sound to read their lips, believe me.

Watch the protesters tear down a massive tent with people still beneath it, as a few cops vainly try to stop them. Watch the faces contorted with rage and hate, the fists shaking.

And then, imagine that this is a Tea Party protest.

Oh, my. The outrage from the president to Democratic congressional offices to the anchor chairs on MSNBC to the mainstream media would resound from sea to littered sea. The sexual slur used to describe the Tea Party would be on all their lips.

The video of Crowder being punched out would be running in an endless loop. The guys who hit him, whose faces were clearly visible, would have been arrested and prosecuted by now. There would probably be posters of them at anti-Tea Party rallies labeled, "These are the Faces of Hate."

There would be serious discussions on talk shows about the need for government to crack down on such seditious mobs.

And at some point, the Healer in Chief would lecture us all once again on the need to conduct political dialogue, "in a way that heals, not a way that wounds," as he did after the shooting in Tucson in January 2011.

But none of that is happening. While mainstream television outlets covered the events, somehow they didn't have the time to mention the violence, other than that a couple of protesters were pepper sprayed. No arrests for assaulting Crowder have been reported.

Not only have Democrats failed to condemn the violence, they have encouraged it. Michigan State Rep. Douglas Geiss declared on the House floor: "There will be blood," although to his marginal credit he later walked it back with a statement on his website that he, "condemn(s) violence, the destruction of property and all other illegal activity in the strongest possible terms." That's better than nothing, but talk is cheap.

No condemnations from the president, either.

And that, of course, is because this is not the Tea Party. It is Big Labor. And Big Labor doesn't have to play by the same rules in Obama's America, especially when it is objecting to legislation that undermines some of its extortionate power.

The reporter they attacked? Well, he was a FOX News contributor, and every right-thinking person knows that FOX reporters don't deserve the same legal protections that those at MSNBC do.

The president bears some of the responsibility for inciting what would be universally described as a "mob" if they were conservatives. He declared at a rally that, "What we shouldn't be doing is trying to take away your rights to bargain for better wages or working conditions."

I wonder if the president knows that it weakens your argument to lie about what the legislation does. He knows the so-called "right to work" laws passed by both houses of the Michigan Legislature and signed by Gov. Rick Snyder take away no rights. They don't touch workers' rights to organize, to bargain for whatever they want, and to strike. The truth is that they expand workers' rights, by giving them a choice about whether they want to join a union and pay dues or not.

This legislation is pro-choice. Aren't all liberals pro-choice? Or does that only apply to women's "healthcare decisions"?

Does it ever occur to union leaders that they have a big problem if the only way they can exist is to force people to belong?

About the only substantive thing the president said in his speech in Michigan was that right-to-work laws mean "the right to work for less."

Yes, that is a possibility. But with factories and other jobs flowing to other right-to-work states, with unemployment at catastrophic levels in Michigan, with Detroit on the brink of insolvency while it pays $1.08 in benefits to municipal workers and retirees for every $1 it pays in salary, with barely more than half its working-age population in, or trying to be in, the labor force, a job with a little less money is vastly better than no job at all.

Ask those employed by Hostess, where good jobs at good wages are going away, in part because unions wouldn't bend on absurd, costly work rules.

The only "negative" thing this legislation does to unions is to require that they compete.

If unions are doing a great job, bringing real benefit to their members and helping to make the economy better, they will hardly be able to contain the stampede to join them. If they are losing members, they ought to look in the mirror, instead of reflexively blaming Republicans for imaginary losses of rights.

Behaving like thugs and bullies is not the way to gain public support, even if hypocritical political leaders enable it.

- Taylor Armerding is an independent columnist. Contact him at t.armerding@verizon.net.