In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the issue's role in campaign politics. In the 2016 campaign, number of posts discussed Trump's bad record on disability issues more generally. As his actions as president indicate, he has little use for Americans with disabilities.
The White House hosted a ceremony April 27 to celebrate U.S. Paralympic athletes. But rather than honor them, Trump remarked that they are “a little tough to watch too much, but I watched as much as I could.” Some were quick to defend Trump’s comments, arguing that they may not have been derogatory. Such generous interpretations, however, ignore two realities: Trump’s own prior disparagement of disabled people (among many others) and just how close to home his particular remark regarding the Paralympics hits with those of us who are disabled.
I was born without a left hand. I’ve never known life without a disability. Being physically different from those around you, and in such an obvious way, can be a deeply isolating feeling. That feeling is exacerbated by the realization — or at least perception — that others view you not only as less capable than them, but as abnormal. Trump’s callous remark regarding the Paralympics was a harsh reminder of this reality and what disabled people experience nearly daily.