I didn't pay much attention to Trump's mocking a reporter with a disability at the time. I saw the two seconds' worth of clip but I never saw footage of the reporter. I knew Trump was a fool anyway and I knew he took shots at everyone. I mean the guy mocked John McCain for being a POW. What kind of man does that?
I don't spend much time with people with severe disabilities these days, and so the footage didn't hit me like a ton of bricks like it would have a few years ago. I looked at this ad and I suddenly imagined watching television with my kid and having the image of Trump doing that come up on the screen.
You see Grace. Grace doesn't look like she has the spasticity Trump made fun of. J did, big time. His arms did that and worse. And I could see J asking a politician a question.
One of my biggest fears when J was little was that kids would make fun of him in school. Where I grew up, in suburban New York, making fun of others in that respect was very common. There was a joke running around when I was a kid, a joke about spasticity - I thought it was kind of funny at the time though it made me a bit sad. The punch line was immortalized, God only knows why, by the Grateful Dead:
If you know the Dead, you probably know the image.
One of the biggest and best surprises of my life was how rarely that happened to J. Kids did not tend to make fun of him. If anything, they were mostly protective of him. If teachers had to tell kids not to make fun of him, I never heard about it, and I'm pretty sure I would have. We now have a Presidential candidate who has less sense and worse ethics than about a dozen years' worth of J's classmates.
I go back to imagining watching TV with J and having this come up. And then comes the next step: Explaining that millions of Americans support this man, knowing this about him. What kind of conversation would we have? In terms of politicians, I suppose I'd talk to him about Ted Kennedy, the main Senator who pushed ADA through Congress. There was once a politician whose work meant that we could get J's wheelchair onto the sidewalk because curbs have cutaways and that we could park close to where we were going because there is handicapped parking.
There is a fundamental difference between taking shots at people for what they do and taking shots at people for who they are. I've blogged about that a lot. Bigotry is about taking shots at people for who they are. We have a Presidential candidate who takes shots at people like my son when he objects to their questions. I guess the message to him would have been that you can't speak up because your disability makes your questions illegitimate.
No, Virginia, the candidates are not indistinguishable or equivalent. Even Republicans understand that.
Happy Fathers' Day to my fellow fathers.