One of the most remarkable things about the 2011 Wisconsin uprising was how a protest so massive and so sustained managed to be entirely peaceful. Thousands of people occupied the capital building, around the clock, for two weeks straight, without incident. For months, as many as 100,000 people at a time marched around the statehouse, and exercised their right to free speech and assembly--without arrests or violence.
There was a spirit of camaraderie during those heady times. Young children held handmade signs supporting their teachers, and handed out home-baked cookies to protesters. Grandmothers, teachers, nurses, veterans, and students bundled up against the cold Wisconsin winter and raised their voices against anti-union legislation and cuts to education. Supporters from around the world phoned-in orders to Ian's Pizza to feed hungry protesters.
So when Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker said that his experience with the protests prepared him for the fight against the murderous militants known as ISIS, jaws across Wisconsin hit the floor.
Asked at the Conservative Political Action Conference how he would handle ISIS if elected president, the likely presidential candidate replied, "For years I've been concerned about that threat, not just abroad but here on American soil."
"If I can take on 100,000 protesters, I can do the same across the world," he said, to applause from the audience.
The statement was widely condemned.
“To compare the hundreds of thousands of teachers, students, grandmothers, veterans, correctional officers, nurses and all the workers who came out to peacefully protest and stand together for their rights as Americans to ISIS terrorists is disgusting and unacceptable,” said Phil Neuenfeldt, President of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO.
Here are the faces of some of those protesters that Walker "took on" in 2011, which he says will prepare him for confronting a group known for beheadings and burning people alive:
Walker clarified his remarks after the CPAC speech. "Let me be perfectly clear, I'm just pointing out the closest thing I have to handling this difficult situation is the 100,000 protesters I had to deal with," he told the Wisconsin State Journal.
According to Walker, this is "the closest thing I have to handling" the threat of global terrorism:
According to Walker, if he can handle this, he can handle anything across the globe:
"Gov. Walker, I know terrorism. I know that your own state's citizens speaking up for what's right isn't terrorism," said Jim Tucciarelli, a union representative in New York City whose office was one block away from the 9/11 attacks. "Today, after hearing your words, I also know the sound of cowardice."