Just when the leaders of the state’s largest teachers’ union desperately needed help, who–of all people–becomes their unwitting savior? None other than the chief editorial writer for The Star-Ledger–a man who has spent a good part of his career bashing the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA).
The NJEA’s leaders, responsible for a colossal political blunder in the last state election, so needed someone to change the subject–and that is precisely what Tom Moran did. In a tweet promoting a limp, lifeless column about the union, Moran said he believed Democratic legislative leaders wanted to “murder” the organization ‘s leaders.
The smell of blood and cordite from Texas and Las Vegas still hangs sharply in the air we all breathe. We trudge through the cold, heads down, in literally murderous times. For those who get paid to choose one word over another for public display, invoking the image of murder now is just plain awful and dumb.
Worse yet, the column he was promoting didn’t come close to matching his Twitter-feverish words. It was a typical let’s-get-the-usual-suspects-to-say-what-the-writer-wants-them-to-say sort of blah-blah-blah. No mention of the urge to kill.
Come on–there is no particular reason why Steve Sweeney, Loretta Weinberg, or Joe Vitale–the state senate Democrats quoted–would want to murder the NJEA’s leaders.
If anything, the union’s boneheaded, expensive and unsuccessful campaign against Sweeney had to be wonderfully liberating for them and the state party.
Deep down, the Democrats don’t want to murder the NJEA leaders; they want to send them flowers with heartfelt words of gratitude. The Democrats in the Legislature don’t owe the NJEA a dime, thanks to the NJEA. And, far from demanding an apology from Moran and the newspaper’s management, the union should be thanking them for changing the subject so effectively.
But, typically, the editorial writer’s blind hatred of everything teacher-union got in the way of common sense.
Now the big gorilla in the room isn’t the naïve and politically inept decision by the union to go after Sweeney by promoting an adoring fan of Donald Trump.
It is murder.
And its invocation allowed the union to move on from Sweeney to this statement:
“There is no place in public discourse for the kind of violent language that Tom Moran used on Twitter yesterday. His casual reference to the alleged desire of some top Democrats to murder NJEA’s leadership is disturbing and inappropriate. If any elected official expressed such a desire to Moran, he should have harshly condemned it, not repeated it as if it is an acceptable or unexceptional statement in the context of a political disagreement.
“Even worse, if no one actually said that to Moran and he invented that language on his own, he should apologize immediately to the leaders of NJEA for his use of violent, terrifying language to promote his article. His animus toward NJEA is no secret, but that does not excuse his utter lack of judgment in using that language. We hold the First Amendment in high regard, but with the right to free speech comes responsibility. Moran’s casual and unapologetic use of violent imagery hurts the credibility of the Star Ledger and of all who value civil discourse.
“We urge all elected officials in New Jersey to condemn Moran’s use of such violent language. It is not only dangerous, but it degrades the level of political discourse by inserting the threat of violence into political disagreements.
“Our leaders are public figures, but they are also educators who have families and loved ones. No one should have to see a public reference to the hoped-for murder of their loved ones. Moran owes a particular apology to the families of NJEA’s leaders for his vile tweet.”
Of course, no one is hoping for the murder of anyone’s loved ones here–and the union’s leaders know it. But the editorial writer stepped right in it with his loose language.
The truth is the NJEA’s leaders threw the dice in the last election–and they lost. They did not incite Democrats to murder, they weakened the union’s political position, giving Democrats permission–an excuse, rather–to vote against the best interests of the teachers and children of New Jersey. Like supporting charter school expansion.
Wouldn’t be the first time. The NJEA allowed tenure “reform” to happen. The NJEA allowed the spread of charter schools, especially in Camden. The NJEA tried to cut its own pension deal with Chris Christie.
All of these were signs of weakness. Weakness that should have been obvious to the union’s leaders. Weakness that should concern members.
And the kind of weakness that should have led the NJEA’s political strategists and top leaders to avoid the embarrassment of a losing fight against Steve Sweeney.
A fight that made the union weaker. And will result in additional losses to children and teachers.
But the union’s leaders don’t have to worry about all of that now.
Now, they can scream bloody murder.