The Objectification of Rahm’s Children

This here is a continuation of last week’s post regarding Rahm and his children.

I’m basically responding to the comment from Kamran Swanson and I wanted to clarify my statements. I appreciate the reply, and I hope I can do justice to the fine observations made by KS.

First, mya culpa KS. I realize now that I was buildin’ my case from more than just one news source. I should have also provided a link to this article titled Exclusive: Emanuel To Send Kids To U. Of C. Lab Schools

Here are the excerpts that were of interest to me:

“If I made a decision about my children that was not as father, but as mayor, first of all my kids would know it – because it is exactly what we said, they have a sixth sense about that – and I’d be less as a father,” he said. “I would know it and the public will understand, then I’m less of a person and I know they will appreciate that. I have absolute confidence in that.”

“There is nothing more important to me than my children and my family and you know this as a father … our kids are unbelievably smart. They know if tjey [sic] become instruments or second priorities,” he said. “And I never want my kids to grow up thinking that my career or my profession trumps their future or their relationship with me.”

So, to clarify, I believe that Rahm selectively used his children to get sympathy and acceptance from the public. Who is going to argue with the kind of logic he presents here? We all agree that parents want what’s best for their children; I said sos myself in the original post last week. Nobody will ever question that and Rahm knows it. All parents know it. However, to be perfectly clear, Rahm states how his children have this sixth sense about his parental abilities. Why use them to get more sympathy? Just tell us what you decided to do and leave it at that for now boss. Nah. Ya know why? ‘Cause he’s sellin’ himself as a caring parent by using his children to convince us. I’m not sayin’ he isn’t a caring parent. I’m just sayin’ that he’s makin’ sure we know what his children are thinkin’ ’cause it adds that level of humanism needed to push his political agenda over the top, or rather, through the doors of the lab school.

I’d like to know what his response would be if his children said, “Hey dad, my sixth sense tells me that school on the south side is too darn far. I rather go to school in our ‘hood so I can hang with my new friends and get some extra sleep in the morning. Whatdaya say pops?” Would Rahm still listen to his children? Would he tell the public?
My answer is this: I don’t think so ’cause Rahm the father would still do what Rahm the politician wants to do. I’m guessin’ he’d take his powerful parental role and tell his children to get in the car and we, the citizens of the city, would be none the wiser ’cause I’m sure Rahm would keep this family matter private.
Would we still think of him as being a caring parent if we knew this was going on? I do wonder.

Through it all, the children pay the price. They serve Rahm’s calculated needs perfectly. He serves ’em up at the right time, with just the right hint of moral awareness that keeps us all at bay, in our state of public education discontent. But we don’t question the politician disguised as the parent. Smooth move. We fall for it ’cause the father says the mayor is doin’ the right thing; and he can only be the father if he presents the children, the token, objectified, children. They serve his purpose well. Sad, but true.

My argument isn’t whether or not Rahm is a good father. It’s none of my business. My concern is that he is using political clout to state his case to the public and then, and then, and then, he’s using his children to demonstrate how moral he can be. This is almost as bad as those photos of children standing next to politicians while they sign new laws. No wait. I take it back. It is as equally bad. Stop playing these games with children. They are not political objects.

On a side note, and to address KS’s comment regarding Rahm sending his children to school on his own dime. I have to respectfully disagree. Rahm is sendin’ his children to school on our dime, the taxpayers of Chicago. Now, just like the mayor has the right to tell us, city employees where to live and by default, spend our nickles and dimes, we too should have a right to tell Rahm where to spend his quarters.

Thanks for readin’.

I know the public understands me. I have absolute confidence in that. My sixth sense tells me so.

One thought on “The Objectification of Rahm’s Children

  1. Hey Realist,

    Thank you for the lovely response. But I have a rejoinder as well 🙂

    I. I can concede that in some sense, Emmanuel is “using” his children in the above case. Not to get too pedantic, but what does it mean to “use” someone in an immoral way? We “use” people all the time without it being wrong. When I go to a coffee shop, I am using the barista to get my cup of coffee, and the barista is using me to get paid. But this is not wrong, because I am not trying to manipulate the barista, and in paying, I am helping the barista as well. Using another person only seems wrong when (a) they are being used, as my friend would say, “merely as a means to an end,” and (b) they are unaware of how they’re being used. If Emmanuel felt that an explanation was necessary to justify sending his kids to school, then referencing his kids in his argument was serving to their benefit as well.

    Furthermore, “using” a person in an argument, such as Rahm referencing his kids, is arguably not using a person at all. He is in no way manipulating or harming them, or affecting their lives in any negative way.

    I’d take your logic to mean that every time a parent volunteers their child for an acting gig, even when the money is being used for that child’s future, that the parents are using their children.

    Would I be mistaken in thinking that you would be okay if he sent his kids to the lab school, but that every time he was asked about it, he simply said “no comment?” He was being interviewed, asked a question about this, and probably thought it was fair to explain himself. Should he have refrained from doing even that? After all, if the only sense in which he is using his children is by using them in an argument, then the “no comment” reply seems like the right thing to do in your estimation. But if he did that, I imagine he’d again be criticized for not providing a justification for his actions.

    II. I still can’t see the connection that he’s using his political power to get his kids into the school. I read the article, and it looks like Emanuel was simply responding to a question about where he’d send his children, and he’s explaining how he made that choice. I still did not see anything about him using his political clout to get his children into the school.

    III. You’re right that, in some sense, he may be using the tax-payer’s dollar. But a few things:

    +1. He was a wealthy man before he became mayor, and if he was going to live in Chicago, he probably would’ve sent his kids to the Lab school anyway. I don’t know the details of his personal finances, but it sounds like he had the means.

    +2. Unless I misunderstand the connection you’re using, you are essentially raising the question of how public employees should or should not spend their money. But the argument that “He’s a public employee, and receives taxpayer-funded paychecks, and therefore taxpayers should decide how he should be allowed to spend his money” is a tricky one and filled with land mines. We, too, are public employees and receive taxpayer-funded paychecks. The logical consequence of your argument would turn the taxpayer into a sort of tyrant over how you and I spend our paychecks. I drink beer on the weekend: drinking a great craft-beer is one of my favorite things to do on the weekend. Not every tax-payer would appreciate that some of their money ultimately goes to my beer, my vacations (my hypothetical vacations), my dinners that I have with friends, the money I donate to various organizations, etc. Even when a paycheck is funded by public dollars, that money becomes private as soon as it is given to a private citizen, in exchange for services that citizen provided to the public.

    +3. The question of whether or not it is just to restrict where public employees live is a related but different question. There are, after all, laws in place governing where we live, where there is not any such law concerning where a public employee sends his/her children to school. And there’s something to be said for following the law, and when it is just to break laws. In terms of our liberty, I agree this is an unjust law, and wish that it would be repealed. I believe it is hypocritical that the new CPS chief Brizard is getting an exemption from that rule. But those are different questions.

    IV. You wonder what would Rahm do if his kids wanted to go to school closer to home, and suspect that if they wanted to go closer to home, he’d still send his kids to the Lab school in order for him to look like a responsible parent. IF this is true in its entirety, then I would concede my skeptic response to your criticisms of Emanuel’s moral character. But this is dubious speculation. Heck, even if his kids did protest, it wouldn’t prove he was using his kids if he sent them to the Lab school. I’ve never been a father, but my understanding is that sometimes you need to do things to your children that they don’t want to do: in fact, it’s a father’s duty in some cases. One big reason for my skepticism here is that it assumes Rahm asked himself, “what will make me look better: sending my kids to the Lab school, or sending them to CPS,” and then choosing the Lab school. But if he had thought about it at all, and if he’d consulted the Daleys, Clintons, and Obamas, which the article says he did, then surely he would know that he would be accused of hypocricy, and NOT earn respect, for sending his kids to the Lab school. In other words, if I’m going to speculate, I think there’s more to suggest he knew he would pay a bigger political cost than receive a political benefit by sending his kids to the Lab school.

    I hate being the Rahm Emanuel apologist, but I think it’s important to examine the validity of the argument.

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