Make Them Go Away



From Chapter 3: The Complaint.

People had been violently hateful of "Negroes." People hated the Irish, the Italians. People are violently, angrily, religiously against gays and lesbians and gay rights. But people had never been against the handicapped. Whenever people complained about disability rights, they preceded their complaint with this: "No one is against the handicapped."

"No one is against the handicapped" is why disability rights has had so little hearing in this country. The phrase says that there is no animus against disabled people -- even though they are segregated and kept from full access to society, even though the special programs society affords them make for a much circumscribed life -- far more circumscribed than what any nondisabled citizen would settle for (we will see this in Chapter 13). The purpose of the phrase is to stifle dissent, although it is doubtful those who use the phrase so unthinkingly are fully aware of what they are doing.

Clint Eastwood was not against the handicapped, he explained to reporters; far from it. His effort to change the ADA, as he explained over and over, was only to help.

"No one wishes to stint on helping the disabled," The New York Times had editorialized when the ADA passed the Senate, nevertheless going on to add that access "cost too much."

The Orange County Register, which, at the other end of the ideological spectrum, had simply called it a bad law, wasn't against the handicapped either, its editorial writer hastened to add -- nor was hardly any "decent" person. "All decent people sympathize with the disabled and try to help them when necessary. The charity of Americans is renowned worldwide. And most Americans go out of their way to treat fairly, in the workplace and elsewhere, those whom Providence has disabled."

That, said the writer, was the precise reason the ADA wasn't needed. While it was true that there was some discrimination; "and the disabled sometimes suffer unnecessarily at the hands of others," the fact was that "not all injustice can be eliminated in this world." This was a parroting of the Right's views about "the handicapped," based firmly on the medical model of disability. | BOOK ORDERING INFO |

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