Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel Scores An Ethics Alarms Hat Trick: “Ethics Dunce,” “Incompetent Elected Official of the Month,” and “Unethical Quote of the Week”

“Take THAT, Bill of Rights!”

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel gets, and richly deserves, the first Ethics Alarms Hat Trick for his astounding attack this week on a private citizen, Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy, for his personal, faith-based social views (specifically those opposing same sex marriage)  and the fact that he gives financial support to advocacy groups that back them.

Here is Emmanuel’s unethical, Hat Trick-winning (and un-American) quote:

“Chick-fil-A’s values are not Chicago values. They’re not respectful of our residents, our neighbors and our family members, and if you’re going to be part of the Chicago community, you should reflect the Chicago values.”

Thirty despicable words these are, born of the worst kind of liberal arrogance and thuggery, embodying dishonesty, disrespect, abuse of power, irresponsibility, and ignorance of the Bill of Rights…and they are jaw-droppingly stupid to boot.  Boston’s Mayor Menino had earlier jammed his feet in his massive mouth up to the knees on the same topic, but his transgression was threatening negative government action against an American citizen’s business based solely on his disagreement with its owner’s Constitutionally protected speech and political activity. This was less ominous than Emanuel’s attack for two reasons: most Americans with a 6th grade education could tell that what Menino was threatening was an unconstitutional abuse of government power that could not come to fruition, and Boston’s mayor says silly things on a regular basis, and thus is accorded similar slack to that given to Joe Biden. Still, Menino’s words were unforgivable, a totalitarian directive to “get in line with the government’s thinking or suffer the consequences” that is anathema to American traditions and values. Emanuel went further, however. He used his prominence, position, popularity and power to sic an entire community on a man based on his political and social opinions, with the intent of either ruining him financially or bending his opinions to the mayor’s will. Torquemada would have been proud.

Here are just a few of the other things wrong with Emanuel’s statement:

  1. It is factually wrong. There are no “Chicago values” relevant to this matter. Chicago remains torn as much as the rest of the country, which is divided approximately in half on the issue of gay marriage, and quite possibly polls over-estimate the “pro-” side.
  2. It is a lie. Chick-fil-A has no opinion regarding gay marriage. There is nothing about gay marriage in its corporate papers or mission statement. The public is ignorant about how corporations operate already, and the Mayor, who knows better, is trying to keep them this way. Chick-fil-A’s values have to do with chicken, food, service and profit. The values of its ownership and management that do not pertain to chicken, food, service and profit are irrelevant to Chick-fil-A. There are no substantive allegations that the company has refused to serve or hire gays or members of same-sex relationships. The statements of the company’s majority owner are not the company’s statements, and the philanthropic activities of the company are not company “policy.”
  3. It is hypocritical. “Chicago values,” such as they are, are nothing to be proud of. The city, like New Orleans, Washington, DC and many others, has tolerated a corrupt political system and government for generations. If there is anyone who should never preach “Chicago values,” it is a product of the city’s swill of a political system like Rahm Emanuel. Not only are Chick-fil-A’s values consistent with “Chicago values” even as erroneously defined by Emanuel, they are better than real  “Chicago values,’ because they don’t include corruption—-a February 2012 report by the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Illinois’ Institute of Government and Public Affairs named Chicago as “the most corrupt city in America,” noting that from 1976 to 2010, there were 1,531 convictions for public corruption, an average of 45 a year—or killing people—as of July 18 there were 300 murders in Chicago—or shooting them—- 1,459 people have been shot over the same period.
  4. It advocates thought-crime. It is not disrespectful of an individual, a group of individuals or even the majority of individuals to express opinions that they disagree with. The very concept is offensive to free thought and open civil discourse. Emanuel’s theory is authoritarian and Orwellian: dissent is an attack on the community and the state. Wrong. Emanuel’s statement is an attack on the state, because it advocates an end to the open exchange of opinions, advocacy and ideas that nourishes it.
  5. It asserts that conformity is mandatory, which denies pluralism, diversity, creativity, political vitality, policy debate and public participation in the political process.
  6. It is extortion.

With all of this, I do think that the Mayor’s hat trick provides us with a useful device for identifying the progressive, political correctness fascists in our midst, both in and out of public service and the media. Emanuel is clearly one, and anyone who makes excuses for him or supports his coercive tactics is another.

And a President who employs such a progressive fascist as his Chief of Staff? I think that is a troubling question. I will think about it, perhaps, on another day.

Now I’m going to go have a chicken sandwich.



Pointer: My wife.


Graphic: The Examiner

Ethics Alarms attempts to give proper attribution and credit to all sources of facts, analysis and other assistance that go into its blog posts. If you are aware of one I missed, or believe your own work was used in any way without proper attribution, please contact me, Jack Marshall, at

14 thoughts on “Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel Scores An Ethics Alarms Hat Trick: “Ethics Dunce,” “Incompetent Elected Official of the Month,” and “Unethical Quote of the Week”

  1. I must disagree with this, at least in part.

    Of course, there’s a corporate policy with respect to gay marriage. Sending millions of dollars to organizations who directly oppose such policies says all that needs saying, and it is disingenuous to suggest otherwise. This is the flip side of the Walmart gender discrimination suit from a few months ago: having official guidelines doesn’t mean they’re followed; not having them doesn’t mean there isn’t a de facto policy.

    Moreover, it simply isn’t true that there have been no allegations of discrimination against gay employees (or prospective employees) or customers. There have been. Whether those allegations have merit is, of course, another matter.

    Without more context (which I have been unable to find), it is impossible to say whether Mayor Emanuel is threatening to put the power of his office behind his opposition to Chick-fil-A, as Boston’s mayor did, and as one Chicago alderman has done (he has acted unethically; I’m not ready to say that about Emanuel… well, I’m not ready to say that in this instance). One fact is incontrovertible: there’s already a Chick-fil-A in Chicago, and I have seen no allegations that Emanuel has taken any steps to get them to leave. That is, even mayors have 1st amendment rights.

    All that said, Emanuel doesn’t have a track record that inspires confidence in his integrity, and I agree with the rest of your analysis.

    • 1. I strongly disagree that giving contributions to advocacy organizations constitutes a corporate policy. How is support of a political position the equivalent of policy? A policy of GIVING, perhaps; an operating policy, no. What if the company gives to such organizations to protest the tactics of pro gay marriage advocates? An anti-gay policy in a corporation would extend beyond giving.
      2. Pending allegations in court, or just unsubstantiated accusations? I can’t find either, but I suppose if tghe bar is set low enough, any company has “allegations” against it.
      3. Yes, Rahm has a right to be unethical.

      • You know, I’m not going to explicitly narrow “allegations”…I should have to. In my view, “allegations’ in the context of the post clearly means “allegations with substance to back them up,” not just any allegations. Anyone can make an allegation. A false or fanciful allegation is more properly called “slander.”

  2. The ‘anti-gay’ groups they are said to have donated money to are-

    Marriage & Family Legacy Fund: $994,199
    Fellowship Of Christian Athletes: $480,000
    National Christian Foundation: $240,000
    Focus On The Family: $12,500
    Eagle Forum: $5,000
    Exodus International: $1,000
    Family Research Council: $1,000

    I haven’t found anything yet on these sites that indicates that they are anti-gay or have ‘agendas’ to hurt gays. These are either Christian groups or pro-family groups. A Southern Christian supports groups that promote families, is that a surprise? I spend part of my year in GA and I know from being here about five years now that this company does a world of good in the community.

  3. Apparently Rahm Emanuel (and the rest of the Obama Administration) would clearly love to repeal the First Amendment. What comes next?

    What gives Emanuel the right, and how does he have the nerve, to go after the CEO of Chika-Fil-A for his personal beliefs and his expression of them? Not the Constitution, certainly. Instead, it is the tone, egotism, and (unfounded) certainty of their superiority that infects the entire Obama administration. They are right; everyone who doesn’t agree is wrong. They can think that, but they can’t go after individuals for their free expression of beliefs. Obama a Constitutional law professor? Too bad for the reputation of the Ivy League – and all law schools – in my opinion. The tone Obama has set in his White House is coming closer and closer to a totalitarian one: you disagree with me and I’ll come get you.

    Just a final thought: it is not only the historic corruption in Chicago that makes Emanuel’s “Chicago values” comment laughable. I went to college in Chicago, and it is one of the most diverse cities in the nation. There are still ethnic neighborhoods and businesses that run along major avenues (six blocks of Polish language signs, six blocks of Italian, six blocks of Chinese, etc.), so exactly how does one characterize “Chicago values” when one can’t possibly lump all residents together in one group? I live in the City of Alexandria, Virginia: aside from our pride in celebrating our 400th anniversary as an incorporated city, I know for certain that “Alexandria values” are as diverse as any other city.

    Sorry for the language, but Emanuel is pure bullshit.

    PS On another subject: I am part and co-owner of a small business, and no one can tell me that we didn’t build that business on our own. Great faux pas, since more than 50% of working people own or work for small businesses. More crap, more ignorance, more baiting from Obama. He understands NOTHING about how real people live and work. Nothing.

  4. “[Menino’s words were]…a totalitarian directive to ‘get in line with the government’s thinking or suffer the consequences’ that is anathema to American traditions and values.”

    In the lifetimes of most of us who comment here, such authoritarianism has become decreasingly “anathema” and increasingly the norm in American political culture. That is perhaps ironic, especially given recent years’ proliferation of media – perhaps not.

    The notion of “solidarity amidst diversity” seems destined to require ever stronger hands to establish and preserve whatever conformity or uniformity the authorities are most in agreement about. The reality of “lock-step” conformity is elusive, but that does not deter the authorities (or, the “agents of the people’s authority,” if you’re still a believer in “democracy” and representative government) from attempting to impose at least the appearance of “lock-step order.”

    We may be seeing the playing-out of dilemmas that diversity (beyond some evolving consensus-definable, consensus-tolerating degree) poses. Diversity is wonderful, but it can be “tolerated” to a point where the permissiveness which diversity requires forms obstacles to effective governance and as such, only promotes and enables anarchy. Freedom of thought and speech may become ever more frequently the casualties of the dilemmas’ resolution, no matter whom is elected. The only tolerable alternative that seems thinkable is some kind of civil Balkanization. Perhaps it is more realistic and more ethically feasible to expect, and thus to advocate, the “United” States not to remain so traditionally united.

  5. Diversity is interesting in the way it is defined. If we look at diversity of cars, I think of the Wal-Mart parking lot. I will find anything there from brand-new Cadillacs to 30-year old Buicks that defy physics by starting and running. I have chosen churches this way. I drive by during the service and look at the cars in the parking lot. You can tell a lot about a congregation that way.

    When certain politicians define diversity, however, it is more like a parking lot of 2012 Honda Accord EX 4-cylinder sedans. Each of the cars will be equipped with an automatic transmission, the gray interior option, and backup sensors. The cars will be every color available with a predefined “correct” percentage of cars of each color.

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