|Big Jim Larkin: Enemy to Andrew Cuomo|
100 years ago next July, 100,000 pounds of TNT permanently shut the Statue of Liberty's torch and shattered the stained glass of St. Patrick's Cathedral, a force felt as far away as Maryland.
The explosion was an attack by German secret agents on munitions barges parked at Black Tom Island in New York Harbor. The 2 AM uproar—which killed seven and approached 5.5 on the Richter Scale—is remembered as "one of the worst acts of terrorism in American history." Black Tom was a black eye for the United States as it ambled toward the Great War.
With ISIS pissing its way across the Middle East and beyond, terrorism still persists, albeit absent the pickelhaubes and mustard gas.
The terrorists of today could be your next door neighbor, or even your child's school teacher, as Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker recently revealed.
Walker compared protesters of his anti-union measures to those who like to film themselves cutting off people's heads. Interestingly, Walker's war on workers might propel him into contention for the White House in 2016, where he and his wealthy donors may fight teachers at home and murderous psychopaths abroad. Doubtless Walker and his burgeoning bald spot will find the military industrial complex just as generous to his campaign as the Koch brothers.
Not long after shrapnel struck Lady Liberty at Black Tom, a union organizer from Ireland was also branded a terrorist.
Fresh from leading Dublin's factory workers and their families through a harrowing eight-month lockout—a seminal moment in Irish labor history—James "Big Jim"Larkin traveled to Black Tom just before the explosion to help dockworkers fight for higher pay and better working conditions. Though he denied direct involvement in the attack, Larkin's union activism on the docks certainly didn't help weapons reach the allies any faster.
It was Big Jim's forceful advocacy for workers and the union movement, however, and not the suspected sabotage at Black Tom that ensnared him in the First Red Scare of 1920, when Russian Bolsheviks were feared much more than ISIS is today. Big Jim's big mouth got him charged with "criminal anarchy" and sent to Sing Sing for three years just for speaking freely in a free country.
Imprisoning unionists for assault with the First Amendment is something Scott Walker and other candidates might consider in the lead up to the presidential
Upon his release from prison in 1923, Larkin returned to Ireland and was hailed as a hero for his unionism and contributions to Irish independence. His exploits helped elect him to the newly formed Irish government, but he was not allowed to serve due to his bankruptcy. It seems Super PAC's didn't exist in Ireland in 1927.
Larkin continued fighting for working families until he died in his sleep in 1947, a legend of the labor movement.
As he celebrated St. Patrick's Day 2015 at his mansion, New York Governor and corporate bootlicker Andrew Cuomo made no mention of Jim Larkin or the struggles of union workers. This should surprise no one considering Cuomo's bromances with billionaires and reckless crusade to "break" public schools.
Jim Larkin's grave shifted, however, when Secretary to the Governor Bill Mulrow thanked the administration's "friends in labor" at the reception.
If Andrew Cuomo is a friend, then who are labor's enemies? Scott Walker? ISIS?
Andrew Cuomo is no friend to labor.
Though Cuomo offered praise at the party for his Irish predecessor Al Smith, he didn't mention how Smith pardoned Larkin and deported him back to Dublin, sparing Big Jim from at least two more years in jail.
After all, Cuomo would deport all union members if given the chance, especially teachers.
Working families throughout New York and the nation must care for their communities and just say no to the likes of Cuomo. Like the bullets and bombs at Black Tom, efforts to divide and conquer must be identified and incinerated before they create craters.
Larkin's legacy will live on, as long as we let it.