By Mark Rhoads
In the Chicago of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan gets to have free speech for unpopular views, but Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy does not. Why? Because Emanuel thinks he needs Fruit of Islam help to slow a crime wave in spte of Farrakhan's infamous anti-Jewish slander in the past. But Emanuel decrees that Dan Cathy's personal opinion that traditional marriage is between a man and a woman is so dangerous and radical that all employees and customers of the food chain Cathy leads are enemies of "Chicago values." Therefore any dissent from Emanuel's personal PC prejudice must not be tolerated and people who work for Chick-fil-A must be punished for the personal views of their CEO.
In today's Chicago Sun-Times, city hall reporter Fran Spielman wrote about Mayor Emanuel's approval of Louis Farrakhan's possible help in slowing down an increase in murders in the city even though Farrakhan made anti-semitic remarks in the past.
She wrote in part, "He’s (Emanuel) more concerned about reducing a 40-percent surge in Chicago homicides that’s become a media obsession and threatens to undermine his efforts to market Chicago to international tourists."
Unless Fran Spielman has a direct quote from the mayor as to what does or does not concern him the most, she is only offering her opinion as to the motives of Emanuel. Her further gratuitious opinion as to the idea that the increase in the murder rate has become a "media obsession" implies that it should not be one. Such a notion is just childish and narcissistic for members of the media. An increase of 40 percent in murders is not a mere "media obsession." The monstrous murder rate is hard news that affects hundred of families on a deeply painful, personal, and tragic level and not just because it might have some theoretical impact on tourism. The first obligation of any local government is to do all it can to protect the personal safety of its citizens from horrible crimes. The officers of Chicago's finest do the best job they can do in a courageous manner every day at high personal risk, but they need the full and active support of wise civilian leaders elected to manage all city agencies. Mayor Emanuel is flunking the test of basic wisdom so far.
Only yesterday, Emanuel said he will make life difficult for a fast-food retail chain Chick-fil-A, because he personally differs with the opinions of the CEO of the chain regarding the definition of marriage and any such disagreement must be branded as "anti-gay actions that means just the opinions themselves are dangerous regardless if the company itself has discriminated in any way. Because Emanuel decrees that "Chick-fil-A values are not Chicago values," then all potential employees that could be hired by the chain and all potential customers that might want to patronize the chain will be penalized in Chicago because Emanuel says so. So much for the freedom of speech rights of Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy when he was quoted last week a saying the he believes in "a biblical definition of marriage as between a man and a woman." Cathy further stated, “We are very much supportive of the family — the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that.”
So in Mayor Rahm Emanuel's Chicago from now on, no one who works for a company whose CEO dares to express such radical and dangerous ideas in public, may be allowed to work or start a new business because Emanuel declares that such views are not in his own radical view "Chicago values" which apparently now mean group-think political correctness that will not tolerate any dissent. That is important to Emanuel but the right to disagree with him is not. More murders are important to Emanuel because of the impact on tourism? But not because innocent people are losing their lives and the city government that Emanuel leads cannot deal with a crime wave? In Rahm Emanuel's world, the anti-Jewish remarks of Louis Farrakhan deserve free-speech protection but the remarks of Dan Cathy that only endorse traditional marriage do not deserve free-speech protection. Emanuel might want to be an effective leader, but he apparently lacks the common- sense and a few ounces of personal humility that might help him be a wiser leader. A wise leader would understand that free speech is a right that must be granted to all on an equal basis and not only reserved to those who happen to not to offend Emanuel. The Chick-fil-A company has not been accused of discriminating against any employee or customer and the personal opinions of the CEO are not proof that is has. For Emanuel to choose who may or may not express unpopular opinions in public based on whether they agree with his own subjective definition of what opinion is or is not a "Chicago value" is stupid. Much is made in news stories about the fact that Emanuel is a politician of Jewish heritage who apparently is willing to overlook the anti-Jewish opinions of Louis Farrakhan. But Emanuel has wandered so far from the traditional teachings of Judaism that he now cannot tolerate any opinion that marriage is between a man and a woman which was Jewish teaching for thousands of years but Emanuel now regards it as dangerous teaching. These are not the actions of a thoughtful or wise leader who can show respect for those who disagree with him and who claims that anyone who differs with his personal prejudice is therefore discrespectful of Chicago citizens and "Chicago values" as defined by Emanuel personally.
First Ward Alderman Joe Moreno made a statement even more stupid than Emanuel's. Moreno said,
“Same sex marriage, same-sex couples — that’s the civil rights fight of our time. To have those discriminatory policies from the top down is just not something that we’re open to. …We want responsible businesses.”
It is time for Alderman Moreno to put up or shut up. Exactly what are the Chick-fil-A company "policies" that he claims are "discriminatory?" The personal opinions of Dan Cathy are not company policies that discriminate against anyone anymore than the stupid personal opinions of Moreno are "policies" for everyone who lives in the First Ward. I think most Chicagoans want responsible businesses but they also reject irresponsible political demagogues who try to pander to special-interest activists by making false accusations against a company that does not discriminate.