Back in the day it was pretty easy to list the most dangerous occupations: lumberjack and tuna fisherman/women were usually at the top. There was also high-rise window washer, skyscraper gandy dancer, amateur alligator wrestler, cab driver and of course cops and firefighters. Many news organizations — either the alleged source, or enemy of fake news — are also on lockdown. Now it is a little more complicated to figure who faces potential danger just for showing up to work. Many more have been added to the list.
The new lineup of endangered-because-of-their-job species includes such unlikely individuals as paper conservator at the National Archives, almost any IRS, Social Security or Defense Department employee, even down to child care professionals at (any) federal day care center. The danger zone can include high profiles places like D.C. or New York City. Or strip mall federal offices in Kansas or California. Some federal jobs — or agencies — have always been at risk. Now that includes almost any job, location or agency. Targeting federal workers is not new. Feds, even in little-noticed clerical jobs, have always been under the gun. But not so much as today. Many people will remember April 1995 when two home-grown terrorists blew up the Alfred P. Murrah federal building in Oklahoma. With a rented truck and homemade bomb — fertilizer, diesel fuel and some other chemicals — they managed to kill 168 people. The dead in the multi-agency building included 19 children. Their parents worked for than a dozen agencies. The kids were there where they could be near their parents. And safe.
In February 2010 a disgruntled taxpayer rented an airplane and crashed it into an IRS field office in Austin, Texas. “Only” one person, other than the pilot, was killed. But 19 were injured. Some still can’t function normally even today. Since those well-publicized attacks there have been many others. Smaller, some with only minor national coverage. On “good’ days there are minor and major incidents at IRS offices, Social Security waiting rooms and VA hospitals. Some are “normal” stress incidents to the people dealing with them. Some are deadly dangerous. The politics of the times are making it much, much worse than many of us can remember. The term “Jack-Booted Thugs” is back to describe federal workers who, in fact, are hardly storm troopers. Both the left and right have used it in the past. Including some politicians whose lives were saved when armed men entered the U.S. Capitol intent on whacking the leadership.
Fed life isn’t fair. That we accept. But sometimes it is really ridiculous. This time some prominent politicians, who ought (and probably do) know better are using the “Jack-Booted Thugs” label to describe places like — and employees of — the FBI and the IRS. Pointing it at various federal operations and, by association, maybe you! In the meantime Congress has been beefing its own security. It needs a few more men and women to protect and defend them.