As the New York transit strike slogs through Day 3, the biggest outrage seems to be directed not at the strikers, but at Mayor Bloomberg, who called the strikers’ conduct “thuggish”, “unconsciounable” and “cowardly.” Of course, the strikers’ union and its supporters are calling Bloomberg a racist for calling the thugs thugs.
But what no one seems to recall is that the term “thug”, as applied historically to New York unions, goes back quite a long spell. Even before Jimmy Hoffa became part of the New Jersey landscape, it was simply routine to refer to union “thugs” around New York, if only to differentiate them from Mafia, political and other common New York thugs, especially street thugs. It ain’t racism, folks. It’s merely a more precise use of the Queen’s English.
One can only wonder how long it will be before Dominique de Villepin comes to the defense of Transport Workers Union Local 100 prez and strike leader, Roger Toussaint. Bloomberg is no racist. But is he an anti-French xenophobe? We can only hope.