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Thursday, October 2, 2008

Palin Twists Words and We all Suffer the Consequences

Patricia Bauer has once again brought my attention to a news story that I missed. Apparently Palin was interviewed by conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt. I am not familiar with Hewitt as I try to avoid listening to conservative radio programs. The transcript and full interview with Palin can be found at Hugh Hewitt's website. The interview and transcript are about what one would expect. Like Bauer, I was struck by Palin's answer to one question. Hewitt asked Palin about her pro-life and anti abortion views speculating that the birth of her son Trig was partially responsible for why the mainstream media hates her.

Palin's reply to Hewitt is hard to follow, misleading and highlights her extreme religious and conservative views. Palin stated this is "the most hurtful and nonsensical slap that we've been taking" referring to her pro-life position. Palin goes on to lament the fact that people "just don't understand" her decision give birth to Trig. For Palin this is ironic because she is trying to usher in a "culture of life" while her opponent Obama would not support a measure that would ban partial birth abortion. Palin thinks that Obama's position is "so far, far left its certainly out of the mainstream of America. To me, that is the extreme position, not my position of just wanting that the culture of life to be respected, and not wanting government to sanction the idea of ending life".

Like Palin, I too don't understand. I don't understand why she cannot separate her religious and political views. I don't understand how giving birth to her son Trig who has Down Syndrome instantly transformed her into an advocate for children with special needs. I don't understand why adults with Down Syndrome are stigmatized and often are forced to live in an institution. I don't understand why programs that could empower disabled people are objectionable to the Republican Party. I don't understand why the unemployment rate for people with a disability has been and remains about 70% I don't understand why Paralympic athletes are grossly underfunded. I don't understand why the Supreme Court has gutted the ADA. I don't understand why people have no clue what disability rights are but quickly acknowledge the civil rights of other minority groups.

Partisan politics are pointless, a fact that seems to have escaped the notice of both the McCain and Obama campaigns. There is much that needs to be done in this country given the dismal state of the economy. It is painfully obvious to me that the most vulnerable are truly suffering or simply worried about whether they can afford to heat their homes this winter. Like many others, I don't understand how we arrived at this juncture. How did so much of the wealth in this country end up in the hands of such a tiny minority of individuals. I for one blame Ronald Reagan and his pro-business anti-regulatory philosophy that has run amuck the last two decades. What is good for business is not necessarily good for the people of this country when giant corporations are run by CEOs that have no conception of ethics. Will any of this be discussed tonight when Biden and Palin square off with another? Not a chance and that is the fault of a deeply flawed electoral process that has enabled our elected officials to become a class apart who have no connection to the people that voted for them.


FridaWrites said...

Beautifully said.

william Peace said...

Frida, Wow, thanks for the compliment.

Jennifer Bartlett said...

I am thinking about what you have said in the second to last paragraph. I have written extensively asking the same questions!

I think PWD are partially to blame. I don't understand why WE don't mobilize. I don't understand why WE don't march. I don't understand why WE let ourselves be invisible.

I am a poet/professor with cerebral palsy. My CP is much easier than most, but I still cope with all the prejudices that got along with a disability. I have fought tooth and nail to get where I am in life. I don't understand why others don't take on the same fight.

william Peace said...

Jennifer, I am less concerned with who to blame for the social, economic, and political deprivation associated with disability than I am with change. As to your why questions, I think the major problem in the big picture is the lack of cohesion within the disability community. As a group, people with a disability are splintered into various factions often associated with a particular physical deficit. This is a remnant of the medical model of disability that dominated American society. Until we disabled people unite as a political group and lobby long and hard, I am pessimistic about significant social change taking place in my lifetime. I only wish I had an idea about how to get all people to rally around and support disability rights. In the meantime, like you I cope with needless prejudice and do my best to educate others. As for those disabled people that do not assert their rights, I can readily understand this. It is easier to go with the flow than assert yourself. It is only through education that I became aware of the insidious nature of how American culture devalues those who are disabled. Not all disabled people are lucky enough to go to college and work as hard as you have.

Jennifer Bartlett said...


I totally agree with you. I don't mean to lay blame. What I want to do, rather, is rally the troops. Like you, I am at a loss of how to do it. I, like you, go through the world educating people on an individual basis. Again, I don't want you to think I'm blaming the victim. What I'm saying is come on people, you can empower yourself!

Yes, I did have lots of luck. I realize that. But, I disagree with you on one point. Hard work and a resistance to 'go with the flow' are not a matter of luck.

william Peace said...

Jennifer, Rallying the troops is good and I wish we disabled people could reach a much wider base of support as other minority groups have done. In terms of going with the flow I meant this is easily done because people like routine and do not want to question the status quo. In contrast, viewing disability from a civil rights perspective is an unpopular belief. Disabled people are not supposed to assert their civil rights and when they do others are often shocked. I know, as do you, this takes inner strength and determination. Hard work also figures into the equation here and I have no doubt you have worked very hard to get where you are. I teach at Purchase College and getting any academic teaching position is difficult. When you factor in a disability, the job search is that much more difficult.

Terri said...

I agree with the conversation here and I want to comment on one of Palin's talking points. I follow a very liberal website and several times in the last month someone has posted something vile about Down syndrome there--each time, within minutes, there have been hundreds of comments refuting the writer and demanding that the post be removed, which it has.

There is a societal disregard for disability and I don't know why either, but Palin really can't call that liberal and blame it for her poor reception--she needs to look somewhere else for that (I could make some suggestions if she is in the mood for introspection at some point!)

william Peace said...

The social disregard for disability never ceases to puzzle me. Many academics tie the exclusion and stigma associated with disability to fear. That is, all people know it is possible to become disabled. I have no doubt this is a variable but much more is involved. I also think the Supreme Court's interpretation of the ADA and narrowing of who is legally disabled has created confusion. None of this explains why almost two decades have passed since the ADA became law and the average person still does not equate disability rights with civil rights. This is a huge problem that I do not know how to overcome.