Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Disability under the Reign of Trump

I've been keeping pretty quiet on this issue because I feel like there's enough bad news out there already and plenty of information already available about how and why the Trump administration is bad news for disabled people.  There's also the fact that I come from a position of privilege being a citizen and resident of New Zealand where the socially backwards policies of the republican government in power are less likely to impact me.  But I have friends in the United States who will and are directly affected and I can't keep silent anymore while others suffer.

I'm always wary of speaking over people with more experience and less privilege than me, so I will be linking to some other blog posts and such at the end from people who are on the coalface.  But I will open up with a few of my own thoughts.

Truth is, I'm scared.  I'm scared of what the future holds for people like me both here and at the front lines in the US.  I'm not naive enough to think that I'm completely safe down here at the bottom of the world, when we live in the age of globalisation and an increasingly hostile political landscape.  I'm also angry.  I'm angry that voting has become a joke and complacency has allowed extreme nationalism and xenophobia to rise in the case of Brexit, and now Trump; that the US election system is such that the popular vote doesn't get the presidency; and that someone as incompetent and hateful as Trump has been able to become president and worse still, backed up by a full republican senate, minimising the chance of really damaging laws and such to pass.

I'm angry and scared that uninformed and inept people are being brought in under the Trump administration.  I'm angry that reason and evidence-based knowledge is being silenced and eliminated.  I'm angry and scared as day by day, we seeing more and more hallmarks of a fascist regime before our very eyes.  Hate groups have been empowered and emboldened against people of colour, disabled people, jewish, LGBTQ folk, and so on.

Ableist Attitudes

It's no big secret that Donald Trump is ableist in a very obvious way, having been called out frequently during his campaign by disability activists.  Most notably from his mockery of Pulitzer-award-winning investigative reporter, Serge Kovaleski from New York Times who has Arthrogryposis affecting his right arm and hand.  This was most famously brought to attention by Meryl Streep during her acceptance speech for lifetime achievement award at the Golden Globe Awards.  While I have some fundamental disagreements about certain points of Meryl's speech... “It was that moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter. Someone he outranked in privilege, power and the capacity to fight back. It kind of broke my heart when I saw it" sorry but no, Serge absolutely has the capacity to fight back AND to speak for himself... however, Meryl at least highlighted Trump's blatant ableism for the world to see.

Administration and Staffing

But there are more subtle and damaging ways in which Trump and his administration is being ableist, starting from the first day in office when all data on disability was removed from the white house website including contacts to a disability outreach team throwing into question what happens with disability rights and the White House.  [side note: I am led to believe that all the disability data and data on climate change can now be found here in the Obama administration archives website].  Also tellingly is the appointment of Betsy Devos who seems to completely unqualified to the role of Secretary of Education, apparently being confused between federal and state jurisdiction when it comes to a fairly important civil rights law: the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), a a federal law that was signed in by republican president, George Bush in 1990.  There are of course a myriad of other reasons Betsy's appointment is concerning, not least of all her suggestion that a school might need a gun to protect them from bears.  And of course her impact has already been felt with an IDEA resource website having been removed, a worrying precedent.

Affordable Care Act...

The most concerning is the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, and potentially other social services and structural supports that many disabled US citizens rely on to live!  This is one area I cannot begin to understand or explain as I don't really understand the US health system, so here is a great post I found on Andrew Pulrang's blog Disability Thinking: ACA Repeal: Reasons and Consequences.  I don't know enough about the US health system, but I only need to think of the social and health services I need and use and which a great many people need and use to realise the terrible effects on our lives if they were removed.

And now for the other posts as promised (in chronological order):

Donald Trump's Ableism is Downright Scary
Trump's not just Racist and Sexist. He's Ableist
If you give Trump a Twitter...
Disability Thinking: Post Election thoughts

I obviously don't want to leave this post on a no-hope note, so I direct you to this post which helped remind me that none of this are in it alone.  I also gained a lot of hope for the future in the wake of the Women's Marches across the world.  Complacency is our enemy, but with hope and strength we can win.  Love trumps Hate <3 p="">

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