Last year in Wisconsin, the liberal media picked up the very insulting comparison that protesting government employees in Wisconsin were creating an "Arab Spring" for Gov. Scott Walker, as if he were an Arab dictator. "It's like Cairo moved to Madison," said ABC anchor Diane Sawyer. Now that the teachers are on strike in Chicago, this insulting meme has now shifted to Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
On Monday's edition of the Al Sharpton radio show -- titled Keepin' It Real -- Sharpton asked Stacy Davis Gates, the political director of the Chicago Teachers Union, "What does the city need to do to bring this strike to an end?" She announced there was an Arab Spring breaking out in Chicago:
STACY DAVIS GATES: Well, you know what’s interesting Reverend Al, is that this is sort of like an Arab Spring here in Chicago right now. Currently, there are five locals, AFT (American Federation of Teachers) locals, who are experiencing similar issues here. Eleven NEA locals have filed intent to strike within the last year. So this is not just confined to Chicago, either....
Our teachers have been bullied, they’ve been belittled by a Democratic mayor, who we think should be a friend to us. Why us? Why teachers?...Rahm Emanuel, that handpicked school board, bless their hearts. They don’t get it.
Sharpton made no attempt to square an "Arab spring" against a Jewish mayor, and whether there was something extra-hostile brewing in that analogy. Sharpton began the interview simply: "Tell us why the Chicago Teachers Union has called a strike today, first time in 25 years." Gates unspooled wild assertions about "black and brown" students getting the shaft in the inner city:
GATES: It’s about educational justice. We are in a time nationally where our students -- black and brown students to be very clear – are under the pressure of privatizers who want to collect off of the pathology that plague our communities. That’s what going on here in Chicago.
She added: “We have neoliberals who have taken the civil rights mantra and have reappropriated it for the means of profits.” After ranting against charter schools, she argued “I don’t see charter schools in the suburban areas. I don’t see them in the rural areas.”
Naturally, the leftist U.K. newspaper The Guardian can smell a racial angle in this:
"There is a racial dimension to the issue of seniority in the teaching profession," my colleague Gary Younge writes. "Private managers in charter schools prefer young, inexperienced teachers just out of college – who will teach to the curriculum and for the tests, and who tend to be white – over more experienced teachers who prefer more autonomy and, in Chicago at least, are often black. Already the racial demographics have changed considerably in the last 17 years. The union fears that if City Hall gets its way these changes will accelerate and intensify."