Classy to the bitter end.
(AFLCIO.org) — A Message from AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka:
All of us will remember the horror and anguish we experienced 10 years ago. Whether we lost loved ones ourselves — family members, union brothers and sisters — or felt the shock of a society that lost nearly 3,000 people and was forever changed, we need no reminding. . . .
In state after state this year — with the heroism of 9/11 less than a decade behind us — politicians targeted the paychecks, benefits and basic rights of these workers in a rabid campaign to shift government support to tax breaks for the wealthy and already profitable corporations.
Wealthy CEOs, anti-government extremist front groups and frothing talk show hosts — from the Rush Limbaughs and Glenn Becks to the Koch brothers, Karl Rove’s American Crossroads group, Americans for Prosperity, the Club for Growth, FreedomWorks and the American Legislative Exchange Council — also pushed open the door to hate.
We’ve seen the costs of hatred in ill-thought wars, in shameful attacks on immigrants and our LGBT neighbors. We saw it in the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. We saw it in the racism that has found overt and covert expression since Barack Obama began his run for office — from outright declarations of people who said out loud they would never vote for a black man to the ridiculously persistent obsession with our president’s birth certificate. Regardless of his policies or priorities, President Obama is shadowed by the drumbeat of suspicion based on his “other”-ness. And those suspicions are fed and watered constantly by forces that were threatened by his message of “hope and change.”
We’ve seen the cost of greed in the recklessness of financial institutions that created the greatest economic collapse since the Great Depression and the devastating jobs crisis that persists today.
But I remember that other door that opened on 9/11 — the door to our better selves, to our understanding that we are one and our values require us to care for one another.
That’s what sent 347 firefighters to their death at the Twin Towers 10 years ago. It’s also what sent firefighters to stand with teachers in Wisconsin even though Gov. Scott Walker had exempted them from his attack on public employees. It’s what moves employed people now to demand good jobs for the 26 million Americans who are looking for work. It’s what gives us the courage to take on a crumbling economy and the politicians preaching austerity and ignoring our jobs crisis — to take them on and say, “We are America. We are better than this. And we are one.”
Brothers and sisters, friends, I hope you will join me in marking this solemn anniversary by committing to redouble your activism on behalf of America’s everyday working heroes. We will rise or fall together.