I gave up on the idea that my disabled identity was in any way singular when my nation began bombing Iraqi children and civilians with a slogan for god’s sake: “Shock and Awe”.
We have destroyed Iraqi hospitals, neighborhood housing, electrical generating plants, and all with the goal of devastating every woman, man, and child in sight. As a human rights activist I realized that the Pentagon’s campaign meant that I couldn’t spend any additional time imagining that my disability is a meaningful category of humankind.
I used to think otherwise. I liked imagining that being blind I was oddly singular in terms of suffering. Blind people are more likely to experience unemployment than the general population. I have experienced at various times the degradations of social services and food stamps.
Nowadays I see that my hardships are part of a generalized policy that’s aimed at putting as many people into straightened circumstances as possible.
While western leaders talk about installing democracy in the middle east they unleash terrible violence on that very region and create disabled soldiers and civilians with astonishing efficiency.
The Iraqi people who suffer disabilities as a consequence of U.S. foreign policy are out of luck. Veterans who come home to the U.S. with disabilities are only provisionally better off—depending on where they live they may or may not get good medical and rehabilitation treatment.
So I’m an angry blind dude who believes that we are living in inhumane times and that the American people are not sufficiently disgusted by the spectacle of what nowadays is called “collateral damage”—as if a slick euphemism can disguise the fact that we have been maiming innocent people as a matter of policy.
Don’t tell me that the children of Iraq are the same as Al Qaeda. Don’t tell me that we can’t look after people who are the victims of war. I won’t believe you.
I see disablism and ableism as constituent components of a larger and terrifying inhumanity that is repugnant. Human rights cannot be sequenced or sub-divided anymore. The dignity of all life depends on this principle of unity.
I suppose I sound like Eugene Debbs. I’m sleepless when I think of the suffering of others. I really am.
Am I still fighting for disability access? You betcha. But I want to be at the victory celebration where the elderly and the young, the trans-gendered or gay people, or those who emigrated from Mexico are accorded equal dignity. I’m chilled to the bone by the corporate fascism that seems to have clouded our age.