White House Chief Emanuel Signs ‘R-Word’ Pledge, Calls Effort ‘Important’
Capping more than a week of scrutiny, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel signed the Special Olympics pledge to end use of the “r-word.”
The move makes good on a promise Emanuel made during a White House meeting with disability advocates Wednesday. At the meeting, Emanuel agreed to sign the pledge, which is part of a Special Olympics campaign called “Spread the Word to End the Word.”
Emanuel’s pledge was posted on the campaign’s Web site r-word.org at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, according to Special Olympics spokeswoman Kirsten Seckler.
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The r-word pledge reads: “I pledge and support the elimination of the derogatory use of the r-word from everyday speech and promote the acceptance and inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities.” In addition, Emanuel added, “this is so important, and I’m glad to support it.”
A White House spokeswoman told The Los Angeles Times that Emanuel planned to discuss the pledge with his children as a way to use the situation as a “teachable moment.”
Last week, Emanuel was quoted in The Wall Street Journal using the phrase “f—ing retarded.” The remark quickly drew fire from disability advocates and yielded a call from former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin for Emanuel to be fired.
Ultimately, Emanuel met with a group of advocates Wednesday at the White House to apologize. In addition to signing the r-word pledge, Emanuel said at the meeting that the administration would review proposed federal legislation that would replace references to “mental retardation” with the term “intellectual disability” throughout federal law.