Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Was Rahm Slurred?

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The Rahm Emanuel campaign is crying foul over some language used to describe him at a Gery Chico endorsement session at the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150.

    During a fiery speech introducing Chico, Jim Sweeney, president of the organization, used what could be construed as an insensitive comparison.

    "Rahm Emanuel is nothing but a Wall Street Judas," Sweeney said, suggesting that Emanuel sold out blue collar folks for a big pay day. " ... for a bag of silver that he collected when he went and passed NAFTA."

    Chico then walked on stage, shook Sweeney's hand and delivered his own remarks, but didn't address the comment.

    Some have interpreted Sweeney's remark as an anti-Semitic slur that compares Emanuel to a notorious Jewish man who was directly responsible for the death of Jesus Christ.

    The Emanuel campaign notified reporters about the comment, and when reporters asked Emanuel for his reaction he said he felt voters would "reject the values behind it, the ugliness behind it."   

    "We all know the history of that comment and the we know the history of that reference, which is why I have absolute confidence in the people of the city of Chicago, and what they'll see it for and they won't accept it," Emanuel said.

    The Chico campaign said the assertion that Sweeney made an anti-Semitic remark is misguided, and "particularly distasteful."

    "This is trade mark Rahm Emanuel divisive politics," said spokeswoman Brooke Anderson. 

    "The definition of Judas, according to the Merriam Webster dictionary, is "traitor: one who betrays under the guise of friendship.  Gery is the father of three Jewish children and it didn't once occur to him that Jim was implying anything besides the fact that Rahm betrayed the workers of this city.

    Sweeney released this statement, and is expected to speak on camera this evening: 

    "Throughout his political career, Rahm Emanuel has demonstrated a pattern of turning his back on the men and women of labor. From his profanity-laden slam at the United Auto Workers to abandoning nearly 1 million American jobs by heading the war room on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Rahm Emanuel has proven himself a traitor to the working class.

    My comments were in no way intended as anti-Semitic. Some of my heroes and mentors in the American Labor Movement, men like Samuel Gompers, the founder of the American Labor Movement, are of Jewish descent. The reference that I made to Rahm Emanuel as a "Judas" was solely intended to liken him to one of the great traitors in history.

    Rahm promises to put 1,000 policemen on the street, but he does not mention the thousands of manufacturing jobs that were lost across the City of Chicago as a result of NAFTA.”

    The video of the event was posted to youtube. You be the judge.