In evaluating Tuesday’s union melee in Michigan, as protesters physically attacked supporters of right-to-work legislation and collapsed a large tent set up by the conservative Americans for Prosperity, let’s do a quick flashback.
As Obamacare moved to final passage in Congress in March 2010, news outlets of all kinds reported that tea-party demonstrators outside the Capitol had spat at and used the “N-word” against members of the Congressional Black Caucus. The source for all those reports? Members of the Black Caucus, who then declined subsequent follow-up interviews.
Subsequent review of several tapes of the incident by Breitbart.com showed it didn’t happen. The late Andrew Breitbart promised a reward of $100,000 to anyone who could produce evidence it had. It went unclaimed. What went unreported was any serious attempt to correct the record by the same media outlets that reported the mythical “N-word” incident.
Flash forward to the grounds of the Michigan capitol in Lansing yesterday. Union supporters were certainly incited to violence. “There will be blood. There will be repercussions!” yelled Democratic state representative Douglas Geiss on the floor of the legislature, as the state moved toward becoming the 24th to pass a law allowing workers to hold a job without joining a union as a condition of employment. “We’re going to have a civil war,” Teamsters president Jimmy Hoffa told CNN that morning. Hoffa’s union is no stranger to either violence or extreme rhetoric. Back in September 2011, Hoffa yelled at a union gathering, “President Obama, this is your army. We are ready to march. Let’s take these son of bitches out.”
Some union supporters tried something along those lines yesterday in Michigan. A large tent set up by Americans For Prosperity and secured by 20-foot poles was torn down.
“We had been contacted by that group that they had three or four people that were actually trapped underneath the tent,” Lieutenant Mike Shaw of the Michigan State Police told MLive.com, which filmed the incident. “Two of them were in wheelchairs and there was also a propane tank in there. So we had to send troopers out, and naturally, the crowd was not too receptive.” Indeed, MLive.com reported that troopers were called scabs and were often blocked from going through the crowd. Luckily, no one was injured and everyone was able to leave the tent before it completely collapsed.
Conservative comedian Steven Crowder wasn’t so lucky. Film footage showed union protesters yelling “Kill him!” at him, then punching him in the face. He later Tweeted photos himself with a cut on his forehead and a chipped tooth.
AFL-CIO rep Eddie Vale deplored “the actions taken by a small group of people” but then claimed they were taunted into it. “The disciples of James O’Keefe were attempting to instigate the crowd all day,” he told reporters.
I couldn’t find any footage of such instigation on the many left-wing websites I perused. It’s possible it wasn’t caught on tape, but there were an awful lot of amateur cameras in Lansing on Tuesday. On the other hand, if you watched almost all the TV news reports and read the Associated Press’s 27-paragraph account of the Lansing protests, you would never have learned of the collapsing AFP tent or the attack on Steven Crowder. Luckily, independent videographers were there to record the incidents and make sure they don’t completely disappear down the memory hole. But as far as most of the mainstream media were concerned, the incidents didn’t happen.