- Action #1: Tell your senators to vote “NO.”
- Action #2: “Dear President Biden. Please reconsider this appointment.”
President Biden announced late Friday afternoon that he will nominate Rahm Emanuel to be the U.S. ambassador to Japan. Emanual is remembered as the the former mayor of Chicago who tried to cover up the police killing of Laquan McDonald, and who drove Black residents from their neighborhoods by starving them of essential resources,
None of Emanuel’s actions from that time are forgotten and none are forgiven. This should have been clear after a previous attempt to make him secretary of secretary of the Department of Transportation was met with protests from leaders of public service unions, civil rights groups and progressive organizations. Not only is Biden’s nomination an immense miscalculation for a post for which any number of candidates would be better suited temperamentally, but it is an huge affront to the Black voters who helped put him in office.
Action #1: Tell your senators to vote “NO.”
Rahm Emanuel’s nomination must first be approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Neither Feinstein, nor Padilla are members. However, contact them anyway in case the committee passes him through. In the meantime, the number of our calls against the appointment will be mentioned to the committee…
Minimal script to your senators: I’m calling from [zip code] to urge Sen. [___] to announce that [he/she] will vote against Biden’s nomination of Rahm Emanuel as ambassador to Japan. Emanuel has a long record of being extremely undiplomatic, abrasive and contemptuous of humane values. His record as mayor of Chicago, where his administration oversaw the coverup of the horrific police shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, is especially troubling, as well as his gentrification plans that starved Black neighborhoods of resources. His nomination is an affront to Black voters and if he is confirmed, he will be an embarrassing international incident waiting to happen in Japan. This man has failed upwards long enough. Ask the senator to suggest someone more suitable to President Biden.
- Senator Feinstein: email, DC (202) 224-3841, LA (310) 914-7300, SF (415) 393-0707, SD (619) 231-9712, Fresno (559) 485-7430
- and Senator Padilla: email, DC (202) 224-3553, LA (310) 231-4494, SAC (916) 448-2787, Fresno (559) 497-5109, SF (415) 981-9369, SD (619) 239-3884
- Who is my representative/senator?: https://whoismyrepresentative.com
Action #2: “Dear President Biden. Please reconsider this appointment.”
Sample email script: Dear Joe,
You rose above your Democratic rivals with the help of Black voters. You became president because Black voters were a organizing powerhouse, helping deliver battleground states and even Georgia for you. According to an AP poll, 9 in 10 Black voters put a check mark next to your name.
But this constituency has a long memory. The war on COVID has shown that Tuskegee has not been forgotten, and the past actions of former Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel is still a fresh wound to the community.
The president who hosted the family of George Floyd at the White House, stating a need to “collectively say enough of the senseless killings,” should not be nominating to an ambassadorship the man deemed responsible for covering up the brutal police killings of Laquan McDonald and who carried out a brutal gentrification program that starved Black neighborhoods of vital resources.
Victims & relatives of victims of police brutality released a statement: “The possibility that Rahm Emanuel will become ambassador to Japan is abhorrent to those of us who continue to mourn the loss of our loved ones due to police violence that he aided & abetted.”
Congressman Jamaal Bowman wrote: “Black Lives Matter can’t just be a slogan. It has to be reflected in our actions as a government, and as a people. Rewarding Rahm Emanuel’s cover-up of Laquan McDonald’s murder with an ambassadorship is not an act that reflects a value of or respect for Black lives.”
Beyond Chicago, Emanuel is well known as arrogant, elitist, abrasive and contemptuous of progressive values – an embarrassing incident waiting to happen. He is the wrong choice to represent us overseas and the wrong choice for the American people who supported you.
Please listen to your constituency. This man is a symbol of lethal disrespect for Black lives. Making him a U.S. ambassador would make the U.S. government a similar symbol. You may personally like him, but it’s now your responsibility to the right thing for all of us.
Contact Joe Biden: https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/
What the heck happened in Chicago?
For those not familiar with Emanuel’s record as mayor from 2011 to 2019, here is part of the chicagoreporter‘s succinct synopsis.
“Emanuel’s eight years in office have seen numerous scandals, starting with the attempt to bury the video of Laquan McDonald’s murder. His hand-picked Chicago Public Schools chief, Barbara Byrd-Bennett, went to prison for corruption. The CEOs of Emanuel’s two favorite charter school operators, Nobel and UNO, resigned in disgrace. Sexual abuse at Chicago Public Schools was covered up. Unsafe levels of lead in drinking water were covered up, and hearings on the issue have been blocked. And a new whistleblower’s lawsuit offers evidence that the code of silence covering up misconduct in the Chicago Police Department is as strong as ever…
…Meanwhile,…two multi-billion-dollar mega-developments seem to continue what (Democratic governor candidate) Chris Kennedy called Emanuel’s “strategic gentrification plan.” Under Emanuel, population loss has continued – in particular the city continues to lose African-American residents – with growth in one demographic only: young people (under 45) earning over $100,000 a year. That’s the goal of Emanuel’s focus on a “global city,” on attracting corporate headquarters and building bike lanes. That focus hasn’t benefited black communities: from 2010 to 2017, covering most of Emanuel’s two terms – a period of economic recovery – the Chicago area’s black unemployment rate fell by just 0.4 percent to 17.2 percent, close to triple the rate for African-Americans nationally.“
This has a personal resonance for us at Indivisible Ventura. Shortly after Trump was elected, we attended a seminar on non-violent organizing put on by the Midwest Academy, whose trainers had honed their resistance chops in then-Mayor Emanual’s Chicago. Our training was illustrated by tales of their struggle against what was called Emanuel’s “plan to make the city “whiter” and wealthier” by “cutting off funding for schools, (in 2013, he closed 49 public schools), mostly in Black neighborhoods) cutting off funding for police, allowing people to be forced to live in food deserts, closing hospitals, closing access to mental health facilities. What choice do people have but to move, to leave?”
The Chicago Public Schools moved to close all four South Side high schools for a year before a new school opened, leaving hundreds of students without access to a local high school, suddenly being forced to cross gang boundaries. A student commented: “First, he starves the school of the resources they need to be successful. Then he opens a new charter school in the area to siphon students away from their neglected neighborhood schools. After that, Rahm declares schools ‘underutilized’ and slates them for closure.” Our resistance training included descriptions of their escalating battle to save the area’s last open-enrollment high school, culminating in 2015 with a 34-day hunger strike.
What happened BEFORE he became mayor of Chicago?
(from thenation.com)“…Emanuel is supposed to be the guy who “gets things done.” But that’s a problem when what gets done is ruinous. In the Clinton White House, Rahm had a hand in defending virtually all of Clinton’s mistakes—including NAFTA and other feckless trade policies, repeal of welfare, the crime bill and mass incarceration. In the Congress, he joined in support of Bush’s war of choice in Iraq—surely the greatest foreign policy debacle since Vietnam. In the Obama White House, Rahm cut the deal with Big Pharma to continue the ban on negotiating bulk discounts on drugs that Democrats had campaigned against for years. He also pushed to dismember the ACA—which was saved only by Pelosi’s fierce intervention. He helped sculpt Obama’s futile strategy of squandering months pursuing Republican support when Democrats enjoyed a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. He joined the push for premature austerity. He championed Obama’s Transpacific Trade Partnership—which was opposed by most Democrats.
Rahm earned a reputation for punching down at the left, cursing liberal groups that wanted to pressure Democrats to support Obama’s health care plan and bleating “Fuck the UAW” when autoworkers had the temerity to seek better job guarantees in the auto bailout. As mayor, he championed closing grade schools, primarily in black communities, warring with the teachers’ union, and privatizing public services, thus living up to the sobriquet “mayor of the 1 percent.”…
…Not surprisingly, over two dozen progressive groups issued a statement opposing his nomination, citing a lack of “ethics, integrity and diplomatic skills.” National NAACP President Derrick Johnson said, “His time in public service proved to be burdened with preventable scandal and abandonment of Chicago’s most vulnerable community.”
What else did two dozen progressive groups say about him?
Coalition Opposes Rahm Emanuel For Ambassador Post, Citing Absence of “Ethics, Integrity and Diplomatic Skills”
(From RootsAction) “More than two dozen organizations announced Tuesday that they strongly oppose any nomination of former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to be a U.S. ambassador. Noting that President Biden is reportedly considering Emanuel as ambassador to Japan or China, a joint statement declared: “Such top diplomatic posts should only go to individuals with ethics, integrity and diplomatic skills. Emanuel possesses none of those qualifications.”
National organizations signing the statement include Black Youth Project 100, Demand Progress Education Fund, Justice Democrats, People’s Action, Progressive Democrats of America, RootsAction.org, Veterans For Peace, and Working Families Party. Several Chicago groups also signed the statement, including the Chicago Committee Against War and Racism, Chicago Democratic Socialists of America, and Indivisible Chicago Alliance.
The statement said that Emanuel “has routinely served elite corporate interests and rarely the interests of the broad public or the causes of racial justice, economic equity or the peaceful resolution of conflicts at home or abroad. And whether in federal or municipal office, he has been known for his abrasive, arrogant style of wielding power.”
The statement added: “Emanuel’s disgraceful behavior as mayor of Chicago cannot be erased or ignored. At a time when the Democratic Party leadership has joined with most Americans in asserting that Black lives matter, it would be a travesty to elevate to an ambassadorship someone who has epitomized the attitude that Black lives do not matter.”
Leaders of some of the organizations augmented the joint statement with individual comments.
“Rahm Emanuel is unfit for elected office and unfit for an appointed position in the Biden administration or any administration,” said Maurice Mitchell, the national director of the Working Families Party. “President Biden pledged to have the back of the Black community that sent him to the White House. Appointing Rahm Emanuel to anything is a broken promise. We don’t ‘build back better’ by rewarding coverups for murder.”
Jeff Cohen, co-founder of RootsAction.org, said that “President Biden should think long and hard before igniting a firestorm of opposition from the Democratic Party base if he selects Emanuel for an ambassador job. Like many other organizations, RootsAction is ready, willing and able to organize a strong grassroots campaign insisting that the Senate reject an Emanuel nomination if it comes to that.”
An ambassadorial nomination of Emanuel would require Senate confirmation.
“We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again — Rahm Emanuel is a ladder-climbing hack who is unfit to serve anywhere in the Biden administration,” People’s Action Deputy Director Bree Carlson said. “His previous stints in public office were riddled with failures. He covered up the murder of Laquan McDonald, defunded public schools, and attacked benefits for poor people. It would be a slap in the face for many to see President Biden ignore the loud calls of opposition towards him.”
The executive director of Progressive Democrats of America, Alan Minsky, said: “Rahm Emanuel should not be an ambassador for the United States. Emanuel is best known for burying evidence of racist state violence in order to advance his political career; for trying to crush a teachers’ union; and, generally, for having contempt for anyone who opposed him and the powerful interests he represents. That is not the profile of someone who should serve as an ambassador for a democratic republic or an open society.”
News reports have said that President Biden is likely to name Rahm Emanuel as the U.S. ambassador to China or Japan. Such top diplomatic posts should only go to individuals with ethics, integrity and diplomatic skills. Emanuel possesses none of those qualifications.
As organizations supported by millions of voters and activists, we oppose selecting Emanuel to represent the United States as an ambassador. He has routinely served elite corporate interests and rarely the interests of the broad public or the causes of racial justice, economic equity or the peaceful resolution of conflicts at home or abroad. And whether in federal or municipal office, he has been known for his abrasive, arrogant style of wielding power.
Emanuel’s disgraceful behavior as mayor of Chicago cannot be erased or ignored. At a time when the Democratic Party leadership has joined with most Americans in asserting that Black lives matter, it would be a travesty to elevate to an ambassadorship someone who has epitomized the attitude that Black lives do not matter.
After being elected mayor of Chicago in 2011, Emanuel presided over a scandal-plagued administration that included the closing of 49 public schools, many in Black neighborhoods. As he faced a re-election campaign, for 13 months Emanuel’s administration suppressed a horrific dashcam video showing the death of Laquan McDonald, an African-American teenager who had been shot 16 times by a Chicago police officer as he walked away from the officer. Soon after a judge ordered the city to release the video, polling found that only 17 percent of Chicagoans believed Emanuel when he said he’d never seen the video; most city residents wanted him to resign as mayor. HuffPost has reported that “he became the least popular mayor in modern Chicago history after failing to explain why he blocked the release of a video of the police killing of Laquan McDonald, a 17-year-old Black resident, until after his 2015 reelection.”
When reports emerged last November that President-elect Biden was considering Emanuel for a cabinet post, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted: “Rahm Emanuel helped cover up the murder of Laquan McDonald. Covering up a murder is disqualifying for public leadership.” Then-Congressman-elect Mondaire Jones weighed in: “Rahm Emanuel covered up the murder of a Black teenager, Laquan McDonald, while he was mayor of Chicago. That he’s being considered for a cabinet position is completely outrageous and, honestly, very hurtful.”
Emanuel’s anti-union record includes record-setting closures of Chicago public schools while expanding charter schools and harsh intransigence during the city’s 2012 teachers’ union strike. Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants, has called Emanuel “a union buster.”
National NAACP President Derrick Johnson said: “As the former mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel has shown us that he is not a principled leader or person. His time in public service proved to be burdened with preventable scandal and abandonment of Chicago’s most vulnerable community. How can we expect him to do better on a federal level? His actions and approach to governing are detrimental to the Biden administration and, more importantly, the American people.”
Emanuel’s record is also troubling on issues of war and diplomacy. Elected to Congress in November 2002, he endorsed the disastrous Iraq invasion and supported the war long after most Democrats in Congress and most of the public had turned against it. Our country needs ambassadors who seek reconciliation and peace rather than conflict and war.”
American Friends Service Committee, Chicago Office
Arab American Action Network
Black Youth Project 100
Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression
Chicago Area Peace Action
Chicago Committee Against War and Racism
Chicago Democratic Socialists of America
Demand Progress Education Fund
If Not Now
Indivisible Chicago Alliance
Jewish Voice for Peace Action
Just Foreign Policy
Muslim Delegates and Allies Coalition
People for Bernie
Progressive Democrats of America
The People’s Lobby
United for Peace and Justice
U.S. Palestinian Community Network
Veterans For Peace
Working Families Party
World Beyond War