Menu JTA Search

Teacher’s union official schooled on ‘blood libel’

SIGN UP FOR THE JTA DAILY BRIEFING

Back in 2011, when Sarah Palin called accusations that rhetoric from her and other on the right contributed to Jared Loughner’s shooting Tucson rampage a "blood libel,"there was a heated debate over the use of the phrase in American political discourse. Critics slammed Palin’s words as inappropriate, while others defended her usage as apt and accused her critics of partisan motivations.

Now someone on the left is taking flak for his use of the phrase. Leo Casey, an official with New York’s United Federation of Teachers, accused former CNN anchor Campbell Brown of a "blood libel" against the union for Wall Street Journal Op-Ed that she wrote on the challenges of firing teachers accused of sexual misconduct.

[[READMORE]]

"The entirely false slander that we protect and defend sexual predators is, for us, the equivalent of a blood libel," Casey wrote. "There are not words to describe the feelings of anger and outrage we have that the Mayor of the City of New York and his proxies would stoop to such contemptible falsehoods."

The Anti-Defamation League’s Abraham Foxman criticized him:

While the term “blood libel” has become part of the English parlance to refer to someone being falsely accused, he should have used another phrase, instead of one so fraught with pain in Jewish history.  To use it in reference to criticism of the school union’s policies and practices was clearly inappropriate and over-the-top.

Casey, for his part, has offered a sort of non-apology apology:

I have a great deal of respect for Mr. Foxman and the ADL. I would simply say that while we are accustomed to having our positions misrepresented by the Mayor and his proxies, the slander that a union of teachers protects sexual predators and seeks to have them remain in the classroom was so beyond the pale of acceptable discourse, so utterly violative of our life’s work as educators and unionists, so cynical in its use of children in an attempt to demonize us with falsehood, that it evoked that comparison for me. I regret if it was in any way disturbing to Mr. Foxman.

Now Randi Weingarten, the head of the American Federation of Teachers — UFT’S national umbrella — and the former head of New York’s UFT, has tweeted: "Regrettable use of words- teachers& their union protect children;@LeoECasey was justifiably upset w/charge that we don’t."

Brown, incidentally, converted to Judaism and is married to Mitt Romney adviser Dan Senor, who has also been in the news of late. Brown slammed Casey as well: "Addressing the issue of sexual misconduct in the classroom is important on the merits. Rather than engage in a constructive discussion, they are injecting a really toxic charge to try and stop that discussion before it even starts."
 

NEXT STORY