Pritzker, Brannigan and the “politics” of apologies

Pritzker, Brannigan and the “politics” of apologies

Pritzker, Brannigan and the “politics” of apologies

Some Arab American and Muslim activists have launched a vicious campaign against Palos Township Trustee Sharon Brannigan who expressed opinions critical of the “Middle Eastern” community that they claimed were racist. Brannigan apologized three times but they refused to accept her apology. However, J.B. Pritzker slammed Muslims as terrorists when he ran for Congress in the 9th District in 1998 and refused to apologize until he met with the same activists behind closed-doors. And guess what, they accepted his apology. Of course, Brannigan is a Republican tied to the leaders who fought Toni Preckwinkle and Pritzker is a Democrat backed by Toni Preckwinkle. It’s not about principles, racism, or doing what’s right. It’s all about slimy ugly politics

By Ray Hanania

The Regional Feb. 8, 2018: Back in 1998, J.B. Pritzker was hoping to be elected congressman in one of Illinois’ most important “Jewish” districts, the 9th congressional district succeeding the venerable Congressman Sidney Yates.

Yates was ill and was retiring from office. To ingratiate himself with Jewish voters, Pritzker slammed an Arab Muslim group that was frequently criticizing Israel, the American Muslim Council. Pritzker called them “terrorists,” a falsehood that drew much support from the racist, anti-Arab news media in Illinois.

Pritzker lost, and the inspiring and progressive Jan Schakowsky was elected and continues to represent that district.

J.B. Pritzker from his campaign Facebook Page at UFCW union endorsement.

J.B. Pritzker from his campaign Facebook Page at UFCW union endorsement.

In the race for governor, Pritzker is being challenge by Chris Kennedy. Unlike in 1998, Arab American and Muslim voters have become more and more influential in deciding elections in Illinois and politicians have been reaching out for their support, being more mindful of the emotions that often drive the nasty name-calling between pro-Israel extremists and pro-Palestinian extremists. There are extremists on both sides, but there are more moderates who support peace and who are willing to compromise on both sides, too, constituents that Schakowsky represents, by the way.

One of the leading Arab American organizations, the Arab American Democratic Club, reached out to both Kennedy and Pritzker. Kennedy responded enthusiastically but Pritzker refused to meet with them, organizing another group of Arabs and Muslims to secure their support.

Pritzker’s apology came in the form of a statement from Jordan AbuDayyeh to an online publication called “Capitol Fax” and was not issued publicly. Pritzker met with some leaders of the Arab American and Muslim community, including many who are part of the protest against Sharon Brannigan.

Sharon Brannigan

Brannigan got in trouble with these Arabs and Muslims who dug up postings she made on her Facebook page about the need to enforce immigration laws several years ago that questioned why there were so many Middle Eastern people living in the Southwest suburbs.

Brannigan apologized for those and other similar postings three separate times, but the activists refused to accept her apology.

Pritzker’s quiet, “silent” apology was accepted, however. without hesitation by many of the same Arab Americans who are criticizing Brannigan.

Brannigan’s apology was made publicly and released to the media. Pritzker’s was released quietly in a closed-door meeting and to a sympathetic online writer read mostly by insiders!


Well, it’s all about politics. Brannigan is a Republican trustee in the powerful and wildly influential Palos Township board. Pritzker is a Democrat running for the obscure, little influential position of Illinois Governor.

I’m being sarcastic, of course.

The only reason anyone cares about Palos Township, other than the thousands of people who benefit from its medical services, property tax services, and food pantry, is because Palos Township is the home of Cook County Board Commissioner and Township Committeeman Sean Morrison who almost singlehandedly forced the County board to revoke the oppressive one cent tax on sweetened drinks and soda pop.

County Board President Toni Preckwinkle is very angry with Morrison. She has singled him out for political attacks. Preckwinkle is also close to many of the people involved in the attacks against Brannigan. (The same group of people attacking Brannigan have openly endorsed Preckwinkle in the upcoming election. Preckwinkle is being challenged by Bob Fioretti in theMarch 20, 2018 Democratic Primary.)

I’m Arab but I am also American. A proud American. I served during the Vietnam War. I pay my taxes. And, I support many progressive and forward thinking elected officials, mostly Democrats but some Republicans, too.

Party affiliation shouldn’t be the only reason why we support someone. I support elected officials who respect my community. Because if you can respect Arab Americans, then you truly believe in diversity, fairness and stand against racism.

Sharon Brannigan apologized three times. I accept it. And I would accept Pritzker’s apology, too, if he did it publicly rather than quietly behind closed-doors to a small handful of Arab Americans who seem to be playing politics with their own community.

That says a lot.

(Ray Hanania is an award-winning columnist, author and former Chicago City Hall reporter. Email him at

To read more on the hypocrisy of the protestors against Sharon Brannigan, read:

The bullying of Sharon Brannigan

The bullying of Sharon Brannigan Sharon Brannigan, a suburban Township politician who made some improper comparisons while arguing about immigration policy has suddenly become the target of the protesters against anti-Muslim, anti-Arab racism. …

Brannigan reaches out to Arabs and Muslims

Brannigan reaches out to Arabs and Muslims Palos Township Trustee Sharon Brannigan offended Arabs and Muslims with broad stroke comments about immigration that pointed a finger at their race and religion. But Brannigan apologized this week, …

A letter from a reader on the Brannigan controversy

A letter from a reader on the Brannigan controversy A reader writes asking about the protests by Muslims in suburban Chicagoland against Republican Palos Township trustee Sharon Brannigan and comments she has made in the past criticizing …


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Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award-winning columnist, author & former Chicago City Hall reporter (1977-1992). A veteran who served during the Vietnam War and the recipient of four SPJ Peter Lisagor Awards for column writing, Hanania writes weekly opinion columns on mainstream American & Chicagoland topics for the Southwest News-Herald, Des Plaines Valley News, the Regional News, The Reporter Newspapers, and Suburban Chicagoland.  

Hanania also writes about Middle East issues for the Arab News, and The Arab Daily News criticizing government policies in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

A critic of mainstream news media bias, Hanania advocates for peace & justice for Israel & Palestine, & the empowerment of Arabs in America. 

"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."

Click Here to LISTEN to Hanania's live radio show on 2nd Friday every month 7 AM CST. Click here to listen to Ray's Podcasts. 

His columns are archived here. Hanania was named "Best Ethnic American Columnist" by the New America Media in November 2007, and is the 2009 recipient of the SPJ National Sigma Delta Chi Award for column writing.

Email Ray Hanania at

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