It’s been a few days since the proverbial crap hit the fan once again in our special needs community, when another politician made a hurtful comment. Unintentional or not, it still stings when you hear leaders who are supposed to represent your needs in Washington, D.C., or in your state capital utter such distressing speech.
Let’s turn the clock back a bit to President Barack Obama when he was on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Everyone was so excited because it was the first time ever that a sitting President was on that show. He was relaxed. He was witty. Then, he dropped the bomb that shocked the special needs community. Claiming that his bowling score of 129 “was like the Special Olympics– or something” outraged many of us. I don’t care if you think he was just trying to poke fun at himself. I don’t care if you think that he was still trying to pour on his charm. What I care about was that he slapped the special needs community in the face when he made that comment. It was disrespectful, and his weak apology did nothing to help smooth over hurt feelings. As an aside, his own score wouldn’t even qualify for competing in the Special Olympics.
Then, we have Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s “hench man” as I like to call him. Rahm has a problem of controlling his mouth. In a closed door strategy meeting, he criticized a plan to air commercials attacking conservative Democrats as “f_____ing retarded”. Saying the “R” word in our circles is akin to saying the “N” word in the African American community. You. just. don’t. do. it. Sarah Palin called for Emanuel to step down after his “R” word comment became public.
Now, we have a newcomer to the “Ooops… I said ____” Club. Welcome, Bob Marshall. He is a Delegate representing Prince William county, Virginia (northern Virginia). He recently stated at a rally against Planned Parenthood that having a child with a disability is God’s punishment to a mother who has had a previous abortion. What in the world? God punishing a mother?
This comment not only made me see red, but also got the whole special needs community enraged as well. First, we don’t see our children (or those of us ourselves who have disabilities) as God’s punishment. We see them as God’s gift. In fact, we view all children as God’s gift, disabled or ‘perfect’. Anyway, aren’t we perfect in God’s eyes? Doesn’t God love us infinitely for who we are? So, how can this Mr. Marshall declare that God is sitting on His throne, doling out punishment in the way of a disabled child? What about those of us who haven’t had an abortion? Did we do something worse in God’s eyes?
Now, I’d like for you to take a look at the political affiliations of these three gentlemen. We all know that Mr. Obama and Mr. Emanuel are part of the Democratic Party. Of which political party does Mr. Marshall belong?
Would you be surprised if I told you the Republican Party?
Yes, Mr. Bob Marshall is a Republican.
Granted, politicians on either side of the aisle will make stupid comments, will make mistakes, and will try to smooth things over with their double-speak.
However, I am looking at this issue through the eyes of an American and as a Christian. To declare such careless opinions not only hurts people who cannot speak for themselves, but it also reflects poorly on us as a nation.
On a personal note, some of you know that I am on Twitter quite often. I follow about 3,000 people, and about 2,900 follow me in return. I have about a majority of conservative-minded political people in my follow group. Many of them I have known for about two years, have talked with them on and off Twitter, became friends with them on Facebook, and have considered them my friends. The other part of my follower group consist of people in the special needs/disability community: many advocates, lawyers, parents, and even people with disabilities.
I thought that when the news came out about Marshall that more of my conservative friends would rally with me about the insensitivity of his remarks, and the insincere apology he made. I mean, they all rallied around when Obama and Emanuel made their faux pas comments about the disability community.
Would you be surprised if I told you that I could count on two hands the number of conservative people that supported my anger about Marshall?
I blasted my Facebook wall with links to the articles, commented about how horrible this was that a so-called Christian would make crass comments like these. Aren’t conservatives supposed to be God-fearing, Bible-thumping, flag-waving, freedom-loving people?
I was heartbroken at the silence. One conservative mom even asked me, “Well, what do you want me to do about it? He apologized.”
Again, I was floored.
I am the kind of person that will stand with you, follow you into battle, lend my shoulder for you to cry on, and sit with you while you need to talk. I only ask that you do the same for me.
I will not back down about advocating for the disabled/special needs community. I will also not back down about my conservative beliefs. I do see how sometimes they conflict in the strongest and strangest of ways. However, if I don’t advocate, who will?
Here’s a little song to close out my long rant. Thanks for reading.