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In New York City, the U.F.T. Betrays Al Shanker’s Legacy

Ronald Radosh

Two days from now a primary election to pick the Democratic Party candidate for Congress in the 8th Brooklyn-Queens Congressional District in New York City will take place. The two men contending for the spot are New York City Councilman Charles Barron and New York State Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries.

Both men are African-American, but their differences are profound. Jeffries is a moderate centrist who has gone against the grain of his own party by supporting school vouchers and educational reform. In contrast, Barron is a an ultra-leftist who chose opposition to Israel as the major focus of his candidacy and who is in no uncertain terms a black racist.

Last week the former KKK leader David Duke gave Barron his endorsement:

The possible election of [Barron], a dedicated anti-Zionist to the U.S. Congress, has thrown the Zionist-influenced media and the Zio-political establishment in a tizzy.

Duke acknowledged that he doesn’t agree with Barron on everything but stressed that “I certainly agree with Barron that Israel is the worst rogue terrorist state on Earth.”

Among Barron’s most notable statements are his praise of the late Moammar Qadaffi as a hero, inviting the Zimbabwean killer and dictator Robert Mugabe to City Hall in New York, and saying at a rally on behalf of reparations for slavery,

I want to go up to the closest white person and say, ‘You can’t understand this. It’s a black thing’ and then slap him, just for my mental health.

As for Israel, Barron has said that “the biggest terrorist in the world is the government of Israel.” In the New York City Council, he protested about sitting near a statue of Thomas Jefferson, who he said was “a slaveholder, a hypocrite and a racist.”

The opponents of Barron read like a Who’s Who of New York’s Democratic Party establishment. They include Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, Governor Andrew Cuomo, Rep. Jerry Nadler, and others. These Democrats see a Barron victory as an embarrassment to their party and city, undermining the clout of their congressional delegation. They are terrified about the possibility that Barron will win the primary, and hence win a seat in Congress in a district that always votes Democratic.

The problem, however, is that New York City’s major trade unions, led by AFSCME, have endorsed Barron and are actively supporting him. DC-37 represents 25,000 Department of Education employees and backs Barron because of his opposition to charter schools, which the union opposes. Its executive director, the leftist unionist Lillian Roberts, stated that “city workers and their unions have had to fight major battles to protect rights that we fought hard to win as well as to preserve the vital safety-net services we provide to an ever-growing clientele,” which is clearly enough for her to support Barron despite his racism and extremism.

Most importantly, Jeffries has been a strong supporter of charter schools, and opposed a lawsuit against them brought by the NAACP and the United Federation of Teachers. Barron, in contrast, has emerged as the strongest opponent of such schools.

As BuzzFeed reported, “Powerful public workers’ unions are throwing their weight — in public and behind the scenes — behind a Brooklyn Congressional candidate who has allied himself with despots like Muammar Qaddafi and Robert Mugabe.” It went on to report that “AFSCME, is planning to dive into the race on Barron’s behalf.” A smaller group, the Civil Service Employees, successfully blocked attempts to get union support for Barron’s rival, Hakeem Jeffries. Also joining the movement for Barron is the old left-wing stalwart in New York’s union movement, Local 1199, now part of the SIEU, and the once powerful Transit Workers Union, led by “Red” Mike Quill in the 30s and 40s.

With low turnout in primary elections and powerful union support to mobilize its cadre, it seems at present that the black racist Barron will win the contest and be on his way to a seat in Congress.

So, what, one wonders, will be the position of the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), the powerhouse in the union movement and the Democratic Party? The answer soon came. The UFT announced that in the Barron-Jeffries race, they will remain neutral! While the fanatical black nationalist supporters in the union ranks of Barron are furious, the decision of the UFT delegate assembly and its leadership to remain silent and not take a stand is in essence a message to its membership that as far as they are concerned, a Barron victory is acceptable.

If the founder of the UFT, the late Albert Shanker, still lived he would be in the forefront of an effort to mobilize his membership to stand up against Barron. One must remember that Shanker attained his national notoriety and fame as the leader of the UFT’s strike in Ocean-Hill Brownsville in 1968. He went to jail in 1969 for two weeks after refusing to call off the strike. The experiment in so-called “community control,” financed by the Ford Foundation, led local black nationalist leaders to fire largely Jewish teachers from the schools at which they worked. Black activists condemned Shanker as a racist, and regularly used anti-Semitic taunts against Shanker and striking teachers, most of whom were Jewish.

When one side is evil and the other sane, neutrality serves only to support those who favor evil. Al Shanker would have understood that, and taken a firm stand in support of Hakeem Jeffries, despite his support of vouchers. How far the UFT has fallen since the days of Al Shanker’s leadership!

Unless a miracle takes place, New Yorkers in the next Congress will be disgraced when Charles Barron represents one of their Congressional districts.

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