CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith & Life for the Years of Winter…
The TV ad Hillary Clinton ran in 2016, showing young kids watching Donald Trump ridiculing and humiliating a physically handicapped reporter, backfired. The assumption was that everyone would think that such ridicule is a bad thing. There are many who do not, who not only think ridiculing the handicapped is acceptable, but that discriminating against them is perfectly okay.
That includes folks like movie star and director, Clint Eastwood, whose movies and actions say, “Better dead than handicapped, not because it’s hard on them, but it’s because we who are not handicapped should not have to make adjustments to accommodate those who are.” The movie that represents this is “Million Dollar Baby.”
When Eastwood was mayor of Carmel, CA, and also owned a restaurant there, he fought hard against any handicapped-friendly legislation. “Why should I have to put a ramp on my restaurant? If they can’t get in, that’s their problem.”
Rush Limbaugh has famously ridiculed Michael J. Fox’s Parkinson’s Disease twitches, even suggesting Fox doesn’t have to twitch like that but just does it to get sympathy.
In one way, ridicule and discrimination against handicapped folks is just the old blame-the-victim approach, If it’s their own fault, we don’t have to do anything to help them, don’t even have to be sympathetic.
In another way, such ridicule and discrimination is just classic bullying. Bullying, by definition, is the strong picking on the weak.
I have a friend who was recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s. At first he was reluctant to go to a support group, because he knew there would be people there further advanced in the disease. He didn’t want to see what he would become. He goes, though, and is glad that he does.
His reluctance, though, points out a psychological problem that is hard to deal with politically.
There is something within us that fears and despises weakness, because we know that we ourselves might become handicapped, weak and defenseless. We don’t want to acknowledge that.
The big problem is that we are unwilling to acknowledge the psychological reasons. We deal with the handicapped only in social and political terms.
You don’t get Gestapo or ICE or KGB or Secret Police or Stasi unless there are people who want to do those jobs, who enjoy causing others harm and misery.
The politicians who are undoing the Americans With Disabilities Act claim it is because they are pro-business, and it costs businesses too much to have to make their places handicapped accessible. I suspect some of them have convinced themselves that is their reason. There is an even better chance, though, that they are afraid of vulnerability and unconsciously want to make it illegal.
We all claim our political actions as based on social policies of some sort or another, but we should never rule out the personal and psychological reasons, even in the political. Perhaps especially in the political.