White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel has apologized for referring to liberals as "retarded" during a strategy session last summer.Via. (Also.)
A White House official said Emanuel called Tim Shriver, the CEO of the Special Olympics, last week after his comments were reported in a Wall Street Journal article.
"Rahm called Tim Shriver Wednesday to apologize and the apology was accepted," a White House aide said. "The White House remains committed to addressing the concerns and needs of Americans living with disabilities and recognizes that derogatory remarks demean us all."
It strikes me as rather fucked-up that Emanuel would apologize to someone who is an advocate for the intellectually disabled, and that Shriver would accept on behalf of people with intellectual disabilities (though he is not intellectually disabled himself). Does that not necessarily communicate the message that disabled people can't understand bigotry, can't understand an apology for expressing it, and lack the capacity to accept (or not) that apology? Was there no one with intellectual disabilities who could have been an ambassador for the Special Olympics (or some other advocacy organization), who could have spoken to Emanuel directly?
Or, more importantly, to whom Emanuel could have offered his regret directly?
That is, of course, a rhetorical question. There are indeed plenty of people with intellectual disabilities who could have been involved in this communication so that it was not one privileged man apologizing to another privileged man.
The whole exchange just seems to reinforce the very narratives about people with intellectual disabilities that the Special Olympics purports to challenge. Icky.
I'll also just quickly note that, although the word should not be used that way, Emanuel clearly called liberal Democrats "fucking retarded" as an insult—and he has yet to apologize to them.