Monday, June 13, 2016

Disability and Politics: Grace

Yesterday, The Atlantic published my essay on "Grace," the new anti-Trump ad put out by Priorities USA, a pro-left Super PAC. On another Sunday, I would have spent a lot of the day publicizing it, but given the massacre in Orlando, it felt inappropriate. Still, I think there are important themes here.

"Grace" uses the moment when Trump made fun of a disabled New York Times reporter last fall to condemn the candidate, but in doing so trades on some disability stereotypes that make me a bit uncomfortable. I reached out to a diverse group of disability activists for their comments:
Disability has a peculiar place in American society. Disabled individuals often evoke sympathy, but they also experience intense discrimination. Disabled children are routinely bullied, especially as they age. Disabled adults have widespread civil-rights protections under the ADA but still encounter enormous obstacles to work, independence, and community integration. Disability is an aspect of the human condition, yet “the disabled” are often isolated and marginalized.
It’s not clear that “Grace” will help with these problems. I spoke to a number of disability-rights activists about the ad. Each condemned Trump’s conduct and are glad to see him held accountable for it. They like the idea of using his insults as a campaign issue. Yet no one was entirely comfortable with the imagery.
Please read the whole thing, especially the remarks from Alice Wong, Dominick Evans, and Vilissa Thompson.

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