DeMint compares Chicago teachers to 'thugs'
September 14th, 2012
01:26 PM ET
6 years ago

DeMint compares Chicago teachers to 'thugs'

(CNN) - Sen. Jim DeMint made an apparent joke Friday on the tense labor dispute in Chicago's public school system, using a harsh word to describe those on strike.

"You know, we have had a lot of bad news this week. On my way over, I was reading another story about a distant place where thugs had put 400,000 children out in the streets. And then I realized that was a story about the Chicago teachers strike," DeMint said, prompting laughter from the crowd at the Values Voter Summit, a social-conservative event in Washington, D.C.

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The Chicago public school system is now in its fourth day of negotiations between unions and the city led by Democratic Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Class has been canceled this week for some 350,000 students.

This isn't the first time DeMint, a tea party favorite, has used the word to label unions. Last year, the senator blasted the National Labor Relations Board for "acting like a bunch of thugs" in its complaint over the move of a Boeing plant to South Carolina, a right-to-work state.

The word has also been in the news this week as protests erupted in parts of the Arab world by those offended by an anti-Islam online video. U.S. embassies were breached in Egypt and Yemen, and in Libya, four American workers, including the ambassador, were killed in an attack against a consulate.

The word "thug" was used by some pundits and lawmakers to describe those who waged the attacks. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon of California, for example, used the word in a statement on Tuesday.

"Again and again under President Obama, we have met threats and thugs with apologies and concessions," McKeon said.

DeMint's office said the senator was not trying to link the teacher strikes to the events in the Middle East.

"Any attempt to connect the senator's remarks with the terrorist attacks in the Middle East is ridiculous. There is no connection between the two," DeMint spokesman Wesley Denton said in a statement. "The union bosses in Chicago are acting like thugs by using children's education as a bargaining chip. The people attacking our embassies in the Middle East are terrorists."

Following his comment Friday, DeMint took a swipe at the president.

"I have even been trying to think of what would be good about President Obama being re-elected. I had to work on it a long time but I finally came up with something. If he was elected to a second term, he could no longer blame the previous administration for all of his problems," he said.

His comments came the same day the South Carolina senator and Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee–both members of the Senate Foreign Relations committee–announced they would introduce a bill calling for an investigation into the attacks on U.S. missions.

"The attacks on American embassies and diplomats are outrageous. The administration owes the American people detailed answers on how this happened and how it can be prevented in the future," DeMint said in a statement.

Filed under: 2012 • Jim DeMint • South Carolina • Values Voter Summit • Washington D.C.
soundoff (240 Responses)
  1. BigTBone

    So says the guy who's state is constantly on the bottom of education measurements.

    Like I trust him to make any kind of accurate assessment. Embarrassed of both the bible banger and the war drum banger Graham. The idiot citizens here loooove to vote for inequality.

    September 14, 2012 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  2. Tara

    Thug? Really? I never look at a grade school teacher and think to myself "What a thug. A hardened street criminal. My god." I can't believe we've come to a time where it's ok to treat the people who teach our children with contempt for simply being teachers or for banding together to ask that they be evaluated in a way that reflects their efforts. Considering how much of an uphill battle teaching America's children has become, we should be figuring out ways to attract the smartest people to teaching and supporting them as much as possible.

    September 14, 2012 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  3. gonetopot

    I try to stay informed about events and our political leaders. I have a friend that lived in an apartment complex where there were 4 guys that lived in the same complex. The 4 guys all drove high priced sports cars, had a lot of parties, but didn't seem to go to work. Then they would leave and my friend found out that they were "Union Protestors" working for the SEIU. They go around the country to organize and participate in union protests. The teacher's union in Chicago has them there right now. How sicking is it to walk out and start protesting and leave 300,000+ kids that should be in school. The Unions were great back in the 1960's and did a lot of good. Now they are just greedy.

    September 14, 2012 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  4. Mark Faucette

    Dear Mr. DeMint,

    If the American people changed your contract so that Congress was judged on its job performance on reducing unemployment and getting the economy moving again, you might understand exactly what the Chicago teachers want. Then again, you and the rest of your "thugs" might just be out of a job.

    September 14, 2012 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  5. BLKMANinAmerica

    The REAL 'thug' DeMint and all the repuks in Congress.

    September 14, 2012 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  6. scarf

    Senator Demint

    I've known thugs. Thugs are enemies of mine. Senator Demint, you're a thug.

    September 14, 2012 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  7. Tony in Maine

    DeMint needs to beg forgiveness of those who taught him to read. In turn, they need to beg his forgiveness for not teaching him civility and the ability to think before speaking.

    By taking cheap shots and going for the laugh rather than working toward solutions, DeMint exemplifies all that is wrong about our country these days.

    September 14, 2012 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  8. Veronica13

    When will we stand up and give money to educate the next generation instead of throwing it all down the toilet on the justice system. We pay to take care of criminals, yet our school kids go without decent curriculum, seasoned teachers, and the materials (inc. technology) that will help them to succeed. Without an education, more criminals are being created. 3rd world country here we come.

    September 14, 2012 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  9. abby1

    It is very disheartening that a politician would insult our teachers and call them thugs. I can understand these labor disputes being emotionally brutal, but there is no need to insult these teachers.

    September 14, 2012 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  10. Marie MD

    Because if anyone knows anything about thugs and nothing about education is the dimwit from the South!
    Go take care of your redneck state!

    September 14, 2012 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |

    DeMint is no different than Romney always whining about "union thugs". Republicans hate working people and the middle class.

    September 14, 2012 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  12. CS Madison

    Well at least if Jim wakes up with a decapitated horse head in bed with him he'll know who to blame.

    September 14, 2012 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  13. gramma nance

    Any wonder why there are fewer and fewer teachers...??? As for making $72,000...did you calculate how much the BS degree and Master's degree cost? And thust me, as a retired teacher...I was NOT done at 3:30. There were hours and hours preparing at home and weekends too. And I spent summer attending classes to improve myself. Thugs...OMG what an a–hole!

    September 14, 2012 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  14. Sniffit

    2. Extremely rich people and corporations that act in their own self-interest by using tax loopholes, foreign banks and complicated tax shelters to avoid paying their taxes, and who try to use that wealth to buy even more preferential tax and economic policies, all while the national deficit and debt and Medicare and Social Security problems are created by a lack of revenue as a result of tax cuts and a massive recession...they are all patriotic heroes.

    Any questions?

    September 14, 2012 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  15. Jeetu

    I think the real thug in this story is Senator DeMint. Accompanied by him are his republican colleagues who are bigger thugs as well. And, then they want us to vote for them. Don't be conned by their games. Recognize them for what they are as the are robbing USA and making us the middle and poor classed poorer. They are also degrading our status in the civilized world.

    Let us vote them out in Novmeber by electing Obama to the white house and democracts to the House and the Senate. There is no place in our governance for "thugs" like Senator DeMint or his republican colleagues.

    September 14, 2012 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  16. "He's Dead Jim."

    Read headline – that was enough to get the gist. Idiot politician says teachers are like thugs... guess he thinks they don't deserve a raise; after all, they aren't real thugs like our politicians, lawyers, or wall street investment bankers. Only the elite are supposed to get raises and still not "publicly" be considered thugs. What do you call George Bush Jr.? DUMB WAR PRESIDENT?

    September 14, 2012 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  17. Bill

    Typical Teabagger. Hurling insults and ignorant comments against hard working teachers in an area in which he has no vested interest or knowledge. Meanwhile, since 2007, he's collected close to a million dollars from realtors, lawyers, and people in the finance and securities industry. But yet, he calls teachers the thugs. What a clown.

    September 14, 2012 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  18. chris hanson

    I can understand the GOP's problem with teachers in the USA. It's so difficult to brainwash a well educated electorate. It is much easier to convince under educated US citizens to vote to raise their own taxes while cutting the taxes of the wealthy. The under educated are far more gullible and naive.

    September 14, 2012 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  19. dbf

    Teachers themselves aren't thugs but you could say that the union leaders are, they exploit their members for their own gain. Now to the issue, Chicago students have some of the worst graduation rates and lowest test scores in the country. Don't you think that something isn't right here, why should the teachers get a raise when their average salary is already $75K and the student are failing?

    September 14, 2012 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  20. "He's Dead Jim."


    September 14, 2012 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  21. tcaud

    I'd like to see someone show this "senator" what a real thug is like.

    September 14, 2012 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  22. Thomas

    What is crazy about the GOP and guys like DeMint .

    If it was Department of corrections officers on strike , he wouldn't call them Tugs , he would pay them more!

    Welcome to the world of the GOP ! Privatize , Deregulate , Out Source .

    Where do I out source my children ?

    September 14, 2012 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  23. "He's Dead Jim."


    September 14, 2012 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  24. Larry L

    @Fair is Fair

    S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    That is inappropriate. These teachers aren't beating people up or any such thing like that. They want their evaluation based on something that makes sense.
    You know, S.B., I've never been a big fan of standardized tests. Having said that, teachers, like every other occupation, should have some kind of metric(s) upon which they're evaluated. What would your suggestions be?
    I'd like to see metric to measure members of Congress. Half of my career in the military was spent trying to plan under a "continuing resolution" because they couldn't get a budget together – their most basic role. Now they take their orders from Grover Norquist and the Tea Party. Who elected them? The House wasted their time and our money voting 33 times on the same issue! The Republicans in the Senate used the filibuster three time as much as any Senate in history – effectively rendering the Senate useless. Why not score the Congress and throw the b@$+@rd$ out when they don't do their job?

    September 14, 2012 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  25. paulr50

    He got it right. Unions are thugs and everything that does not get fixed over the last 4 years is Obamas fault.

    September 14, 2012 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
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