Democratic strategist Bob Beckel on Tuesday joined with other pro-union pundits in blaming United Auto Workers’ stunning defeat at the hands of Volkswagen workers last week on cultural bias, going so far as to invoke the automaker’s past with Nazi Germany.
“Let’s face it,” Beckel said on Fox News Tuesday, “Volkswagen has the kind of unionization it does because V.W. had a long, storied history with Hitler and the Nazis.”
Fox News’ Bill Hemmer and Andrea Tantaros responded with audible groans and urged Beckel to leave it at that.
“Bill, wrap this segment up,” said Tantaros, one of Beckel’s co-hosts on Fox’s “The Five.”
“We don’t have enough time,” Hemmer said, directing his comment at Beckel.
“That’s the problem!” Beckel said. “You can’t raise these things because history — history dictates a lot of things! If you don’t think Volkswagen had a long, storied history with the Nazis, it’s the reason that they got unionized. It’s the first company to unionize in Germany, when the Americans took over.”
Tantaros interjected: “Volkswagen didn’t have to invite UAW to the table and have conversations with them. And they did and they left it up to the workers. Leave it at that.”
After spending an enormous amount of money wooing workers at the Tennessee plant, the UAW was ultimately rejected last week by a vote of 712-626.
Beckel’s comments were made in reference to other pro-union pundits who have suggested since the results of the vote were released late Friday that that some sort of deep-rooted cultural and racial biases may have played a role in the UAW’s defeat.
Those opposed to the UAW’s efforts “portrayed this as a northern invasion, a re-fighting of the Civil War,” MSNBC’s Timothy Noah said after the vote. “Apparently, there are not a lot of black employees in this particular plant, so that kind – waving of the Confederate flag was an effective strategy.”
Beckel seemingly shied away from saying outright that racism was responsible for the UAW’s defeat.
“I’m blaming much more the culture than I am race,” he said when pressed for clarification by Hemmer. “I talked to a UAW organizer who was down there and he said stuff on the floor of the shop – it was people saying, other businesses in the area, saying, ‘We don’t want to be unionized. You really want these Northern people to come down here?’ This very much reminds us of the civil rights movement.’”
“Just to be clear,” Hemmer said, “that’s what you’re going with?”
“What do you mean, ‘that’s what I’m going with’?” Beckel asked.
“The secondhand talk on the floor of a plant that claims racism? It just seems like … everything south of the Mason-Dixon Line comes back to the Confederate flag?” Hemmer said.
“Well, Democrats would like it to come back,” Tantaros said.
Shortly after that exchange, Beckel fell back on Nazi references, prompting Hemmer to wrap up the segment as quickly as possible.
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