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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Ewing Adds to Slippery Slope Republicans Have Us On

          Are Republicans just trying to piss people off at this point?

          Just days after Todd Akin coined the disturbing phrase “legitimate rape,” another Republican, Mark Ewing of Alaska, running for the state House, said, “We are spending millions and millions of dollars educating children that have a hard time making their wheelchair move and, I’m sorry, but you’ve got to say, ‘no’ somewhere. We need to educate our children, but there are certain individuals that are just not going to benefit from an education.”

          I’m sorry, too, Mark, but I’ve got to say, you’re an a--hole. I try to keep certain standards with my writing, but this is one of those times that more polite terms just don’t cut it. (I had to force myself not to spell out the actual word in deference to some level of professionalism.) Of course, Todd fits the same descriptions, but I’m going to focus on your stupidity today. These days you just have to make tough choices when it comes to responding to the idiotic statements coming out of the mouths of Republicans.

          People are already trying to come to Ewing’s rescue by explaining what he really meant. You know, those let’s-get-real geniuses, who just happen to generally be white, upper to middle class (financially, that is), and don’t usually have to deal with imperfections in their lives like someone with a bothersome disability.

          They want the rest of us to believe that Ewing was talking about kids who are so severely physically and mentally disabled that they can’t possibly benefit from an education. Let’s say for a moment that they’re correct – they’re dead wrong, but let’s pretend. What exactly would Ewing like society to do? Lock such people away? Just sort of let them die? And what does it say about a man (and, as in the past, I have to use the term man only in the biological sense for a politician) who thinks this is the answer to budget woes?

          By the way, in my experience most kids who fit the above description are more than likely in school all day with a small group of children with similar disabilities in one classroom – if they get that much. To suggest it’s costing “millions and millions of dollars” in a local race is complete BS, and implies costs nationally that are just as phony. Despite the Ewings of the world, even if his supporters’ premise about the kids he was referring to was accurate, budget cuts aren’t a viable excuse to deprive kids with the severest of disabilities the chance to have all of the stimulation they can get by being around other people. If that’s actually all a kid could get for an education, it’s as important as the education of anyone else.

          But, let’s do “get real.” Ewing wasn’t referring to kids with the most extreme disabilities. He referred to “children that have a hard time making their wheelchair move.”

          At the risk of validating a suggestion I’ve already heard that I make these things about me, I’m not as adept as some at making my wheelchair move. I essentially use one arm and my legs to move my manual chair, and I even use a power chair to go places independently – like to college, for instance, before I graduated with honors.

          No, I actually don’t think Ewing was referring to people with disabilities similar to me. But exactly where would he like to draw the line? Before I was mainstreamed I went to school with a lot of kids with Muscular Dystrophy who could barely push a wheelchair. Would they have just been sh-t out of luck under Ewing? MD is a progressive disability. Most kids with MD, I believe, are essentially able-bodied at a very young age. Do we cut off their schooling after they need a wheelchair or wait until they can’t push a manual anymore? Maybe Ewing has a speed limit in mind? Slip under 5 m.p.h. and time’s up?

          Actually, I went to school with some kids with the exact types of disabilities Ewing referred to. Guys like Timmy, who I knew for years. His cerebral palsy was much more severe than mine. Talking was such an effort it would often make him sweat, his limbs were strapped down to his wheelchair, and he probably never got much passed a fourth or fifth grade education. He was also a pretty funny guy who liked all the same stuff other kids did, and, like a lot of the kids I knew, lived in a home for kids with disabilities. I shudder the think what would have happened to Timmy if Ewing and his apologists ran the world. Keep him at the home all day? Or would even that be too expensive? How about 20 years from now when society has adjusted to the Timmy’s of the world staying in a home all day because they’re not worth the expense of sending them to school and the economy tanks again? I suppose it will be time to “get real” and take away their homes.

          Oh, by the way, if I remember her stories correctly, my mom was once told by doctors that I would never move. They probably thought I’d physically be a lot like Timmy. I wonder how much chance I would have had to prove them wrong without going to school where I received physical therapy.

          Hopefully, the consequences of what Ewing really said sound asinine to most people. The problem is Ewing’s words don’t sound absurd to all people. Based on his words I feel very safe guessing that Ewing has had no experience having someone with a disability in his life. His words were flip, thoughtless comments spoken out of ignorance, stupidity, and arrogance.

          It wasn’t long ago that while everyone dismissed Martin Harty, another Republican, as the dumb old man that he was and still is if he’s alive for suggesting that people with disabilities be shipped off to a place like Siberia, some Republicans were defending his right to speak. Now, some people want to explain Ewing’s words as if they have validity on some level.

          The Republican party has us all on a very slippery slope that seems to be getting slicker by the day. Voters need to wake-up and give them a dose of reality in November.

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