Thursday, December 22, 2005

"Thuggish" Equals Black?

The head of the New York Transit Workers Union seems to be engaging in a bit of racial profiling.

And what may have begun inadvertently, when Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said on Tuesday that union leaders had "thuggishly turned their backs on New York City," took on a life of its own yesterday as minority leaders and union members attacked the mayor's conduct as objectionable, or worse. "There has been some offensive and insulting language used," said Roger Toussaint, the union leader. "This is regrettable and it is certainly unbecoming for the mayor of the city of New York to be using this type of language."

But others were more extreme in their response. Leroy Bright, 56, a black bus operator who is also a union organizer, saw racial coding in Mr. Bloomberg's choice of words. "The word thug is usually attributed to people of color whenever something negative takes place," he said, adding that the language was "unnecessarily hostile."

Al Sharpton too: "How did we become thugs? Because we strike over a pension?"

"I do not think the language would have been used in a union that was not as heavily populated by people of color," he added. "And whether he intentionally did it or not, he offended a lot of people of color and he ought to address that, and come to the bargaining table."

Condidering what a shallow reservoir of sympathy the transit workers have to draw on, I don't think it's helpful to their cause to start disparaging legitimate criticism as racist.


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