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Rod Paige Criticizes Teachers Union
February 23, 2004 1:54 PM   Subscribe

Rod Paige Criticizes Teachers Union Education Secretary Rod Paige called the nation's largest teachers union a "terrorist organization" during a private White House meeting with governors on Monday. Democratic and Republican governors confirmed Paige's remarks about the National Education Association.
posted by Postroad (39 comments total)

 
what an asshole.
posted by specialk420 at 1:55 PM on February 23, 2004


damn commies terrorists
posted by woil at 2:01 PM on February 23, 2004


Isn't that taken a wee bit out of context? I heard it was in light-hearted humor.
posted by aaronshaf at 2:03 PM on February 23, 2004


Yeah, I think it was a bad joke, not an actual statement of fact by the secretary.
posted by mathowie at 2:05 PM on February 23, 2004


Anything with the word "terrorist" in it is rarely considered light-hearted humor anymore, for better or worse. Anyhow.

Damn teachers: we've been found out. If I wasn't on the list before, I sure as hell am now. Thanks, Rod. No more air travel for me.
posted by josephtate at 2:07 PM on February 23, 2004


OH MY GOD THIS IS SO HORRIBLE QUICK I MUST ALERT MY WHOLE FAMILY QUICK WE NEED GRASS ROOTS ORGANIZATION AND GUNS.

Who is on the guns?
posted by xmutex at 2:10 PM on February 23, 2004


It is true that the NEA is not a terrorist organization, but I don't think Sec. Page really meant that. The NEA is a left-wing teacher's union that often puts the interests of its members ahead of the interests of educating children. I'd bet that that's what he really meant to say.
posted by Durwood at 2:12 PM on February 23, 2004


No, Durwood, clearly what he meant to say GEEARRGHGH BRAINS NEED BRAINS.
posted by xmutex at 2:14 PM on February 23, 2004


If he thinks calling the NEA a terrorist organization qualifies as a joke, he should try telling the flight attendant on his next plane trip that he has a bomb in his shoe and see if that gets any laughs.
posted by owen at 2:18 PM on February 23, 2004


Who is on the guns?

Maybe he's dyslexic (like the president?) and meant to say the NRA is a terrorist organization. They've got guns.
posted by LeLiLo at 2:20 PM on February 23, 2004


I heard it was in light-hearted humor.

Yeah, I think it was a bad joke, not an actual statement of fact by the secretary.


Instead, he should have told the one about Gandhi running the gas station.
posted by LeLiLo at 2:26 PM on February 23, 2004


My wife's a terrorist. I'll let her know.

But should I tell her that before or after I've clubbed her unconscious and tied her up - for the good of society, of course - while the Homeland Security police come to take her away to Guantanamo for a little 'vacation' ?
posted by troutfishing at 2:28 PM on February 23, 2004


Instead, he should have told the one about Gandhi running the gas station.

No, No... Silly! That was different...


My wife's a terrorist. I'll let her know.

Calling the NEA a "terrorist organization," while a stupid comment, is very different than calling teachers terrorists.

Unions have political agendas that many/some of their members may not agree with, but are forced to pay dues to support.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 2:32 PM on February 23, 2004


This isn't a new tactic from the GOP. Four years ago, Oklahoma's then-governor, Frank Keating (R), was asked how to deal with the teacher's union (the OEA, the state branch of the NEA).

His response? "Homicide."
posted by mdeatherage at 2:57 PM on February 23, 2004


It's been quite the tempest/teacup day here at MeFi, yes?
posted by dhoyt at 2:59 PM on February 23, 2004


You people can be really ridiculous. It's not a freaking political tactic, it's a freaking bad joke. Everyone makes them.
posted by xmutex at 3:06 PM on February 23, 2004


The NEA is a left-wing teacher's union that often puts the interests of its members ahead of the interests of educating children.

Absolutely. Whatever is this world coming to? Can't imagine why a trade organization would worry about taking care of its members, enabling them to get to their jobs -- of, you know, educating the children.
posted by pineapple at 3:07 PM on February 23, 2004


"Anything with the word "terrorist" in it is rarely considered light-hearted humor anymore"

Unclench. Humor hasn't died. And Republicans are allowed to tell jokes. Just because you don't think it was funny doesn't mean many others didn't. For instance, if I announce that Bush is a Nazi, we all know it's a joke, even if no one laughs.

What the hell happened to light-hearted? If you keep scowling 24-7 your face is going to freeze that way.

Attack the policies and failures people!!!!!!! Not the dumb jokes. We need to vote out Bush & Co because they tell stupid jokes? No!!!!! We vote them out because they're running the country into the ground fiscally, because they've made us more hated and distrusted around the world, and because they've failed to execute on policy initiatives (other than those which gut the Bill Of Rights).
posted by y6y6y6 at 3:16 PM on February 23, 2004


Can't imagine why a trade organization would worry about taking care of its members

Well, they're called the National Education Association, not the National Educators' Organization. That means they should be focused more on education than on educators, and should act more as a professional association than a labor organization.

Maybe the name was intentionally chosen to make it seem to the public more like they are one and not the other, even though they are. If you're against them, you're against education, not educators. Hmm?
posted by kindall at 3:21 PM on February 23, 2004


and yet again we see that anyone that doesnt toe the white house line is a terrorist. Arent we all so glad we have such a balanced and responsible administration.
posted by MrLint at 3:39 PM on February 23, 2004


And of course, the evildoers in the teacher's union are the only ones looking out for their own, and the members of the NEA could not possibly care less about the precious children everybody seems to be going on about these days. And the Department of Education is, of course, the only organization who really cares about the children.

The children, the children, won't they think of the children. We care, they don't. No, we care, they don't.

Please. Tempest, teacup, indeed.
posted by chicobangs at 4:09 PM on February 23, 2004


Maybe if his boss wasn't running around jamming terrorists down our fucking throats, then this might be funny. As it stands it's not funny. Not one bit.

I second the asshole comment.
posted by damnitkage at 4:18 PM on February 23, 2004


Unions have political agendas that many/some of their members may not agree with, but are forced to pay dues to support.

Hmm...you mean like governments?
posted by freebird at 4:29 PM on February 23, 2004


When unions are so readily called Left Wing then indeed the country is in deep trouble. The history of unions in this country is an honorable one, bringing reduced work hours, shorter work days, vacation time, retirement benefits etc etc They came into eexistence because Management got so out of hand and a countervailing force (unions) was needed....I know a lot of teachers and I have found them much more conservative than Leftists trying to do away with the country...when all the jobs go bye bye then you will have what you wanted: no more unions (and of course lousy paid jobs)...lots of luck.
posted by Postroad at 4:44 PM on February 23, 2004


Teachers are shat upon in this society. They barely make a livable wage in most places. You would think educating the next generation would be an important priority for our society, but, instead, we pay teachers crap. And the amount of crap that they have to put up with from parents, children, administrators and the clueless public makes it a largely thankless job. God bless people who feel that calling.

And yeah, this comment, while probably meant in jest, just betrays his true feelings about teachers, and shows that he is an asshole.

The next time you think unions are unnecessary, go read the Jungle by Upton Sinclair. Or a history textbook. Generally, given a chance, employers will try to take advantage of their workers. Hence the need for workers to organize to ensure that they won't be taken advantage of.

And, yes, I'm biased. My wife is a teacher. And a damned good one, too.
posted by geekhorde at 4:44 PM on February 23, 2004


The guy was NOT kidding in his dumb remark. He makes his apology and makes things worse by claiming lobby groups for NEA are bad --as though the drug or gun industry are just a bunch of do gooders. Here is what the dolt said:

SECRETARY PAIGE ISSUES APOLOGY FOR COMMENT ABOUT NEA
Mon Feb 23 2004 18:51:54 ET U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige today issued the following apology for his remarks about the NEA.

"It was an inappropriate choice of words to describe the obstructionist scare tactics the NEA's Washington lobbyists have employed against No Child Left Behind's historic education reforms. I also said, as I have repeatedly, that our nation's teachers, who have dedicated their lives to service in the classroom, are the real soldiers of democracy, whereas the NEA's high-priced Washington lobbyists have made no secret that they will fight against bringing real, rock-solid improvements in the way we educate all our children regardless of skin color, accent or where they live. But, as one who grew up on the receiving end of insensitive remarks, I should have chosen my words better."
posted by Postroad at 4:50 PM on February 23, 2004


What damnitkage said, in spades. I weep over what they're doing to my beloved English language, and every "bad joke" like this just hammers the nails in further.

TERR-OR-IST, TERR-OR-IST, WE'RE A MEAN, SONOFABITCH!

(Bonus points for IDing source.)
posted by adamgreenfield at 5:03 PM on February 23, 2004


Hmmmmm...... On further reading it seems the man is indeed a facist wingnut. Serves me right for assuming something stupid had to be a joke.
posted by y6y6y6 at 5:06 PM on February 23, 2004


Facist......... Hmmm......... Or perhaps fascist.
posted by y6y6y6 at 5:09 PM on February 23, 2004


It'd be kinda cool if the NEA showed the flexibilty and decentered-ness of really effective terrorist orgs.
posted by mecran01 at 6:00 PM on February 23, 2004


My old high school shop teacher used to confiscate all weapons that we made in class. He clearly needs to tell us where those weapons are. I don't care if the UN says he doesn't have them, I don't believe that he would ever get rid of them.

Blah.

Oh and I call wtf on that "apology". That was nearly as apologetic as Gen. PAtton was after hitting the shell-shocked soldier. Sorry my ass.
posted by jmgorman at 8:27 PM on February 23, 2004


"It was an inappropriate choice of words to describe the obstructionist scare tactics the NEA's Washington lobbyists have employed against No Child Left Behind's historic education reforms. I also said, as I have repeatedly, that our nation's teachers, who have dedicated their lives to service in the classroom, are the real soldiers of democracy, whereas the NEA's high-priced Washington lobbyists have made no secret that they will fight against bringing real, rock-solid improvements in the way we educate all our children regardless of skin color, accent or where they live. But, as one who grew up on the receiving end of insensitive remarks, I should have chosen my words better."

Which is interesting, because none of the teachers that I work with are all that fond of many of the measures behind "no child left behind." Most of them see it as a political move by people who have never seen the inside of a classroom to impose additional constraints on teachers. Locally the testing fracas has resulted in protest as a beloved principal at a troubled school with a high transient rate, may or may not have had her job threatened due to test scores.

I honestly don't believe that "no child left behind" will last very long. As much as people like to complain about other public schools, in most communities there are strong, social grass-roots support for schools and administrators.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:55 PM on February 23, 2004


This is the George W. Bush Administration school of diplomacy :

1) Make comment (or "joke") so over the edge that everyone nearby is speechless.

2) Big media flap ensues.

3) Obfusticate, deny, backpedal or apologize if necessary or - as a last resort - issue a code red terror alert and then pull Osama Bin laden's freeze-dried corpse out of the White House freezer and parade it through the streets of D.C. and NYC in ticker tape parades.

4) $ Profit !
posted by troutfishing at 9:19 PM on February 23, 2004


Those high paid lobbyists are just fine, so long as they work for big pharma, tobacco/food (see Kraft, Nabisco), etc and bring their power to bear on the side of profit v. social concerns, but those damn educators shouldn't have them too!

We need them kids hyped up on sugar, dosed with the ADD drug du jour and lighting up for pleasure, not actually learning.
You see, if they learn to read, write and produce independent thoughts, we'll be done for.

Just reading between the lines, folks.
posted by sillygit at 9:56 PM on February 23, 2004


The extent to which people in this administration will go to smear and demonize everyone and anyone who happens to be, politically, to the left of the Faux News Channel is quite simply breathtaking.

Nixon must be spinning in his grave just thinking of the sh*t he would have gotten away with had he come to the White House in the present day instead of 35 years ago.
posted by clevershark at 11:14 PM on February 23, 2004


When unions are so readily called Left Wing then indeed the country is in deep trouble.

Why? Left wing is not a pejorative, and it is certainly an apt description of the political positions that the NEA and almost all trade organizations routinely line up behind. Let's be realistic. The NEA's political contributions in the last 3 federal election cycles show 96.6% of their financial support went to democrats. That's left wing, pretty much by definition.

The extent to which people in this administration will go to smear and demonize everyone and anyone who happens to be, politically, to the left of the Faux News Channel is quite simply breathtaking.

Yeah, because an offhanded, stupid remark in a closed room is a coordinated effort to smear and demonize.
posted by Dreama at 3:18 AM on February 24, 2004


The chief architect of the "Texas Miracle" that wasn't has zero credibility to make any statements regarding education in America. I have posted on this fraud twice here in the past if you are not familiar with Paige's past.

He's much like his boss who has zero credibility to attack anyone on issues of honesty, patriotism, honor, and bravery.
posted by nofundy at 5:21 AM on February 24, 2004


Dreama - You may be right, but that meme : " Teacher's Union = Terrorist Organization " certainly was broadcast far and wide due to Paige's little "accidental" gaffe.

An accident, or deft PR ?

The knee-jerk reaction was predictable. This - the media reaction and inadvertent broadcast of the meme - would have been very easy to script.
posted by troutfishing at 7:20 AM on February 24, 2004


As a matter of fact, I can picture it vividly :

[ Rove takes a big fat toke ] "Karl, I don't see how you can smoke that shit. It bad for your brain" [ George W. ] "Au contraire, my king, au contraire" [ Rove chuckles ] "All I can say is - I'm not judgmental or anything, but this better never get out. I'd be toast." [W] "Toasted, my chocolate truffle, toasted. Work on that diction a little. Some people think you're dumb.....Holy crap on a libral bran muffin, batman - I've got a tasty nugget of an idea !" [K] "Karl, you're getting kind of fat - that shit makes you eat too many.... and - you know how I am on the Jesus thing. That 'Holy Crap' stuff doesn't sit right in my gut, just sayin...." [W] "Not now, my little Dorito...I'm on to a little project.....let the liberals jerk themselves around and consolidate your base too. Just like Psyops, but much, much easier. You like that, my lord and master, right ? 100% legal dirty tricks ? Those are the best... " [K] "OK Karl. I'm all ears" [ pulls on ears in exaggerated, mocking fashion ] " Right, well - we'll script Paige and have him 'accidentally' make a 'stupid joke' that equates the NEA ( the teacher's group, not the arts group ) with terrorist organizations. The 'liberal media' [ chuckles ] will pick it up and hammer the association into the minds of millions of Americans. Get yr note cards, boy ! - I'M TOOTIN ! - next, we'll....." [ GW rolls eyes, begins to scratch away on a yellow legal pad ] "Yeah karl, next you're ordering deep fried chocolate nougat bars from the kitchen, I know. Don't forget your lipitor. Sorry - you were saying ? I'm all ears" [ tugs on ears to assuage a slightly peeved, but giggling Rove ]
posted by troutfishing at 7:42 AM on February 24, 2004


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