White House Meeting Draws ‘R-Word’ Apology, Pledge From Emanuel
White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel apologized to a group of disability advocates Wednesday for using the word “retarded” and said he would pledge to help end use of the word.
Emanuel met with leaders from Special Olympics, The Arc of the United States and the American Association of People with Disabilities as well as two self-advocates and a parent advocate Wednesday at the White House. The meeting came more than a week after The Wall Street Journal quoted Emanuel using the phrase “f—ing retarded.”
“He sincerely apologized for his mistake and the pain it caused in our community,” the advocates said in a joint statement following their meeting with Emanuel. “This is another small step on the road to a country that accepts the gifts of all.”
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Last week, Emanuel called Special Olympics CEO Tim Shriver to apologize for the comment. But the private apology was considered inadequate by many in the disability community.
The issue erupted, however, when former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin wrote about Emanuel’s use of the “slur” on her Facebook page this week and called for him to be fired.
In addition to the apology, Emanuel said he would take the Special Olympics pledge to end use of the r-word. The pledge is part of the organization’s “Spread the Word to End the Word” campaign.
Furthermore, Emanuel said the administration would review proposed federal legislation that would replace references to “mental retardation” with the term “intellectual disability” throughout federal law.