Jewish Journal

Rahm Gets the Lash

by  Joe R. Hicks

February 2, 2010 | 8:22 pm

According to Webster’s dictionary, the definition of “retarded” is slow or limited in intellectual or emotional development or academic progress.”  But now Barack Obama’s Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel has gotten himself into hot water after referring to liberal activist groups as “f—-ing retarded.” Gotcha!

As could be guessed, advocacy groups and political opponents of the president jumped on the remarks – some seeking advantage for organizational agendas or to cause the president embarrassment.  It seems of no consequence that the President’s staff head dropped the “F” bomb in the midst of a White House staff meeting – who cared.  But the word “retarded,” once made public, allowed disability groups to use the comment as a weapon in the bully-pulpit of advocacy politics.

Last year, the president appeared on Jay Leno’s NBC show and joked about his inability to bowl, saying “It’s like – it was like Special Olympics, or something.”  Gotcha!

Of course, Emanuel has prostrated himself before the Gods of political correctness, calling Tim Shriver, CEO of the Special Olympics, among others to apologize for the comment.

But let’s put Emanuel’s comment into perspective, shall we?  Emanuel is known as a less than sensitive fellow, one who routinely uses “colorful” and crude expressions to help get his often abrasive points across.  He was reacting to the announcement that some liberal activists groups planned to air some attack ads aimed at conservative Democrats who dared be less than supportive of the president’s healthcare bill – legislation which lies prostrate and on life-support. 

In true form, Emanuel called this idea “… retarded.”  I mean, why would you want to alienate members of Congress – folks whose votes will be needed in upcoming House and Senate battles?  Yeah, it is kind of, well, retarded – in the classic Webster’s sense of the word.

But isn’t this just more of the same political correctness game that has afflicted almost all aspects of our lives?  Beyond their wildest dreams, advocacy groups have succeeded in affecting the ways that government tries to control the kinds of food people eat, the types of cars we drive, or the manner in which children’s games and sports events have managed to make winning a new sort of sin.  Excellence is no longer the coin of the realm, what matters in this world of the “touchy-feely” is that you played the game – even if you sucked.

The penchant toward political correctness is what drove some reactions to the recent use of the word “Negro” by Senate Leader Harry Reid in comments he made in support of Barack Obama’s run for the White House.  Of course, there was nothing derogatory about Reid’s comments.

Nor was there anything to take offense at in the recent comments of MSNBC’s Chris Matthews. To the horror of the racially-conscious, he admitted that he “nearly” forgot that President Obama is black while watching the State of the Union address.  The race police leaped to the attack. Gotcha!

But what Matthews said – albeit awkwardly - is actually indicative of the nation’s contemporary racial landscape.  There was some initial amusement over the first black president “thing” – however, Matthews stumbled onto something real.  Most Americans tend to concentrate - in these hard times - on the content of what he says about important issues they care about, and not on the President’s skin color.

The claim that “disadvantaged” minorities, and Americans with disabilities, are perpetual victims is a disempowering message.  The majority of Americans with disabilities are strong, contributing people who have overcome adversity and aren’t about to wilt simply at overhearing a word that strident advocates now claim is the equivalent of the “N-word.”   

But go tell that to Sarah Palin.  Responding to Emanuel’s comment, the former vice presidential candidate and now a media commentator said: “Just as we’d be appalled if any public figure of Rahm’s stature ever used the ‘N-word’ or other such inappropriate language, Rahm’s slur on all God’s children with cognitive and developmental disabilities – and the people who love them – is unacceptable, and it’s heartbreaking.”

Come on! It should be clear to all, except those with political agendas to serve, that Emanuel’s comments were directed at left/liberal political activists, and not at any individual – certainly not those with physical, cognitive or emotional disabilities.  Unless you’re a black rapper, who perversely claims another meaning, “Nigger” has only one use – to offend. The word “retard,” however, can be utilized in many ways - most often not offensive.  So, “retarded” is now the new “N-word?”

Enough already!  There are all too many critical issues facing the nation, and using politically correct “gotcha” politics to bludgeon others into submission or to win political points somehow seems beyond pointless.

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