By CARL GREEN
Belleville, IL – Organizers of the Southwestern Illinois Central Labor Council’s recent awards dinner figured bringing in pro-union news reporter Charles Jaco as the main speaker would have an impact. And they were right.
Jaco made everybody laugh with stark descriptions of President Trump. Then he scared the hell out of everybody.
The man who vaulted to fame on CNN during the Gulf War in 1991 is also a St. Louis resident and lifelong union member and supporter. He has worked for KMOX, KTRS 550 and KTVI television.
His message was a warning – that the United States has been launched down a road that we’ve seen before in places like Nazi Germany and Cambodia, places where unions and democracy are seen as the enemy and where the quest for ever larger fortunes overwhelms people trying to make a living.
Jaco has been there before, in his extensive international reporting over the years, and to him, it looks all too familiar.
“I’ve seen this movie. It’s in a different language, but I have seen this movie. This is how it starts,” he said. “Authoritarianism and dictatorship do not begin with truckloads of guys in uniform rounding up all their political enemies. That happens at the end.
“At the beginning, things are a lot more gentle. They start to manipulate words. They start to manipulate images. What they want to do is argue that there is such a thing as alternative facts. That what you see with your own lying eyes isn’t true.”
THE TRUE TRUMP
Jaco described Trump as an unstable, racist con artist who will not be reined in by the Republicans in charge of Congress.
“You have a party that’s blathered on about patriotism and family values for decades,” he said. “They have sold gallons, barrels, truckloads of this snake oil. And we have bought it.
“We have allowed them to define the terms. We have allowed them to say they are tired of finding a moral difference between a vicious racist and somebody who is opposing a vicious racist; and that labor unions, which brought us higher wages, better working conditions, the middle class and the weekend, are somehow the enemies of the American people.
“They have told us that cutting taxes for people who have more money than some small European countries is somehow going to benefit all of us.
“And yet, for reasons that pass all understanding, we have swallowed this bilge.”
The upcoming elections are at the mid-term of Trump’s term but still are the greatest opportunity we have to turn the tide back in favor of the American ideals of freedom, democracy and opportunity for all, Jaco told an appreciative crowd that responded at times with laughter, applause and vocal support.
DID IT TO OURSELVES
“Despite voter suppression and interference by the Kremlin, we did this to ourselves,” he said. “There is not one person out there who voted for Donald Trump who can tell me they didn’t know this was coming, because Donald Trump made it crystal clear during the campaign who he was, what he stood for and what he was going to do.
“When a dangerous psychotic tells you who he is, believe it. Listen. Now is the time to undo this. We can undo it, we will undo it, not through violence, not with hatred, but with love for our country, love for our families, love and hope for the future of this great nation.”
Labor’s role should be at the front of the line seeking to defeat Trump at the ballot box and to remove him from office, Jaco said.
“Organized Labor has always been on the right side of history,” he said. “Organized Labor has been about the working men and women of this country and getting a fair shake for them. It is time that the men and women of Organized Labor realized that we can no longer tolerate this state of affairs. Something has to be done. What has to be done is impeachment. What has to be done is the 25th Amendment, which would declare the president unfit to serve.
“You are voting in a referendum about whether or not we made one of the worst mistakes we ever made as a country and how we can fix it. And yes, we can fix it. It’s not going to be easy but we can do it, but only if every one of us is as active and engaged as the men and women who risked everything so we could be sitting here tonight, black and white, young and old, as part of Organized Labor.”