AFL-CIO President John Olsen is known for his over-the-top rhetoric when defending the cause he holds dear. His passion is legendary and admirable but his wording and timing at the large pro-labor rally this past weekend couldn’t have been worse.
The rally was one of several across the nation on May Day—a traditional day for celebrating labor. Olsen took to the mic in Bushnell Park and said, “There is a class war going on and it’s against the middle class—they [Republicans and corporations] trying to exterminate us,” he said.
The problem is, Sunday was also “Holocaust Remembrance Day” and the use of the word “exterminate” was unfortunate and regrettable even if unintentional. Words have meaning and even the most passionate supporters of a cause should weigh the appropriateness of their comments. The use of “exterminate” on Holocaust Remembrance Day was ill-advised at best. Knowing Olsen’s style, he can probably get a pass on this one. But he’d be smart to be more careful in the future.