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‘R-Word’ Remark Prompts Emanuel To Meet With Disability Advocates

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(Updated: February 2, 2010 at 10:06 PM CT)

White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel will meet with a group of disability advocates Wednesday, more than a week after a media report quoted him using the word “retarded.”

The meeting will be an opportunity to discuss “the suffering and pain of people with intellectual disabilities that is perpetuated by the use of the terms ‘retard’ and ‘retarded,’” according to a statement from Special Olympics.

Special Olympics CEO Tim Shriver, Andrew Imparato of the American Association of People with Disabilities and Peter Berns, CEO of The Arc of the United States, were invited to the White House meeting. Two self-advocates and a parent advocate are also expected to attend.

Some of the advocates say they intend to ask Emanuel to become involved in the Special Olympics campaign “Spread the Word to End the Word.”

The meeting is the culmination of a week of back and forth after a report in The Wall Street Journal quoted Emanuel using the phrase “f—ing retarded” at a gathering of liberal groups and White House aides in August.

Disability advocacy groups quickly fired back after learning of Emanuel’s use of a term many people with disabilities find offensive. In response, Emanuel called Shriver to apologize and the apology was accepted, a development first reported by Disability Scoop. However, some advocacy groups continued to press for a public apology.

The controversy flared up again this week when Sarah Palin weighed in. The former Alaska governor and 2008 vice presidential candidate called for President Barack Obama to fire Emanuel over what she called a “slur.”

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