To the California Federation of Teachers, it's not the war on
terrorism, but the "so-called war on terrorism" -- and the CFT wants no part
The vote was unanimous -- sort of like an Iraqi presidential
Congress approved a resolution allowing President Bush to use
military force against Saddam Hussein. The American Federation of Teachers
approved a measure supporting "the use of the wide range of powers at the
country's disposal to eradicate this threat to our people, our liberty and
our children's future."
In protest, according to spokesman Fred Glass, the California
unit of the nationwide teachers' organization approved a resolution opposing
the war. In a recent session, the CFT's State Council, which is comprised of
representatives of some 150 locals, approved the resolution without a single
hand raised in opposition.
The CFT resolution states that there is no credible evidence
linking Iraq to a terrorism threat, that Bush "is seeking any pretext to
overthrow the government of a sovereign nation, in violation of
international law," that civil liberties are being restricted and that "the
administration is using the so-called war on terrorism to distract the
American people from the vital issues they confront." It then urges its
members to "get involved" with antiwar groups.
Teacher Barry Fike of the Berkeley local said that it would be
wrong to infer that the anti-Bush language means that the CFT supports
Hussein. That's true.
It's also true that the CFT resolution impugned Bush's motives,
as well as his approach, but did not criticize Hussein in any way. Call it a
Once again, a teachers' union is taking flak for its position on
the war on terrorism. In August, The Washington Times reported that the
National Education Association had put together a post-Sept. 11 curriculum
that advised teachers to "discuss historical instances of American
intolerance" -- as if American intolerance invited the attacks.
An appalled AFT spokeswoman told The Washington Times, "The AFT
does not support a blame-America approach in particular and wishes to
distance itself from the entire document."
In this case, Fike noted, the CFT resolution has nothing to do
with curriculum. It takes a political position. "I have a right as an
American" to take positions, said Fike.
That "my right" line reminds me of the latest bit of antiwar
rhetoric. You can see it hanging outside the City Lights Bookstore in San
Francisco, with the sign, "Dissent is not un-American."
Who said it was?
That statement deliberately airbrushes out the difference
between the act of dissent and the content of dissent. If a resolution
states that U.S. motives for getting into war are purely political or venal,
whether true or false, it's an anti-American remark.
I'll add: In S.F., antiwar isn't dissent -- it's orthodox.
When antiwar types say dissent isn't un-American, what they're
really saying is that while they can denigrate hawks, it's un-American to
criticize antiwar types.
Mike Antonucci, a critic of teachers' unions who runs the
Education Intelligence Agency, said the CFT resolution "just widens the
disconnect between the average member and the union."
Or it widens the disconnect between CFT teachers (it should be
noted that CFT is the smaller California teachers union) and parents who are
fearful that educators will try to brainwash their kids against the war
If you're one such parent, adopt a new slogan: Dissent of
dissent is not un-American.
And here's the question to ask your kids' teacher: If dissent is
so dandy, why did not even one teacher vote against the CFT resolution?