This article is a report on our efforts at the Capitol Saturday
includes links to each of the media reports about it.
Shelli: I consider Saturday’s counter-rally a success. I say “counter-rally” because the effort was not conducted like a counter-protest. That was done purposefully out of concerns for safety and in the interest of not merely standing against the rally around the corner, but to stand for something.
Admittedly, I was reluctant to undertake the effort, not due to lack of commitment to the issue at hand, but because I saw it as a potentially volatile situation. In the end, that was the best reason to step in. Linda and I wanted to ensure that people who were opposed to the labor union rally’s sentiments and in support of collective bargaining reform could gather separately. We wanted the effort to be done properly, and again, to stand for something. If were going to get involved, we saw an opportunity to focus on Nebraska’s issues.
The “Save the American Dream” rally, organized by a national entity (Moveon.org), was focused on supporting Wisconsin’s unionized public employees and all “workers’ rights”. Our counter-rally was organized by us – a local group and supported by other local groups. We spent less time talking about what was happening around the corner and more time talking about Nebraska’s budget problems, the legislation sitting in the Business and Labor Committee in the State Legislature, and the lack of action from our elected officials.
We also talked about the real American dream, which is freedom, granted by God, and the opportunity to achieve whatever you set out to do – if you work hard. Absorb your own failures and benefit from your successes. It’s not about special classes or getting favors granted from elected officials who are beholden because of campaign contributions.
Instead of a small band of opposition on the edge of a crowd – a potentially volatile situation – in less than 48 hours, thanks to several groups in Nebraska, approximately 50 hardy folks came to the State Capitol – a number of them from Omaha and Fremont – to brave the cold weather.
We listened to some patriotic music, had some fellowship, talked about where things stand in the Unicameral, and distributed information. As we were about to wrap things up, with some folks going on their way and others leaving to meet for a warm cup of coffee nearby, we were brought face to face with a number of the things that are so problematic about “organized labor”.
Linda: First, is the apparent need to “never let a good crisis go to waste.” A corollary to this maxim is: When a crisis does not exist, manufacture one if you can. That’s what happened on Saturday. In spite of our effort to remain separate, a large number of union protesters rounded the corner from the west side of the Capitol building and marched down the sidewalk heading for the counter-rally in front of the north steps. As they marched, they chanted union slogans and waved their signs. We split our numbers down the middle, allowing the union supporters to pass between us. We initially responded to their chant with one of our own: “God bless you.”
Many of the union supporters kept walking, but approximately a dozen or more stopped after they passed through our ranks and turned to throw more chants and slogans our way, led by a young fellow with a bull horn (pictured below). They asserted, “Union rights are human rights.” We asked, “Who will pay?” They shouted about “democracy.” We responded, “Republic.”
The interaction continued in that vein for a short time, but the fact is that GiN had a permit for the base north steps; moveon.org and their followers did not. The police were called, and the union sympathizers were told to move along. They did move — across the street, where they continued their harassment from afar.
The point is, the entire interaction was unnecessary but was intentionally sought out and staged by the union. Why? What was the point? We have clear differences of opinion. Neither side was going to convince the other. So, what purpose was served? Clearly, the media loved it, as you can see from reading any of the articles or watching any of the news video linked below. If that was a goal, it was satisfied. But that accomplishment cuts both ways. If they got media attention, so did we.
I think their main goal was to intimidate. I say this because I was among the last of our number to leave the scene. As I was walking over to my car, parked near the north steps, the young man with the bull horn shouted to his cohorts, “They’re all gone. I guess that means WE WIN!” So, violating the permit they were issued, taking their demonstration to the other side of the Capitol in search of confrontation, shouting down people who disagree, and acting the bully equals success? Sadly, that seems to be the prevalent opinion among the ranks of the unions and their supporters.
Shelli: When I say that “a picture is worth a thousand words” and concluded my remarks, above with my remark about seeing some of the problems with “organized labor”, I reference not only what Linda described. By pointing out the picture, above, I am not even focusing on what looks like an angry bunch of guys. My focus is on the sign held by the bearded fellow…
“In Solidarity…Industrial Workers of the World”
WHOA – Workers of the World?!
Anyone else see a problem with that?
Media coverage of the Saturday of the events:
Omaha World Herald: Nebraskans put on dueling rallies over labor
Lincoln Journal Star: Pro-, anti-union groups gather outside Capitol, briefly exchange words