The following is an open letter to Lily Eskelsen Garcia, President of the National Education Association.
Dear Ms. Eskelsen Garcia,
At a rally in South Carolina last Tuesday night, Donald Trump did a ghastly impression of New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski. As I’m sure you’ve read by now, Mr. Kovaleski had dared to contradict Trump’s lies about, well, about a whole bunch of things. In response, The Donald mocked him. More specifically, he mimicked his disability. As I understand it, Mr. Kovaleski has a condition called arthrogryposis, which affects the movement of his arms.
Here’s Mr. Kovaleski on the left and Mr. Trump, mid-impression, on the right:
And, in case there’s any doubt left as to precisely what Mr. Trump was doing, you can watch the video here.
Trump, being Trump, is now demanding an apology from Mr. Kovaleski. Right.
Anyway, I’m assuming that we can agree that mocking one’s disability is reprehensible, yes? But Trump is Trump and reprehensible is what he does. It sells. It gets him on the front page. Google his name and link after link pops up leading to the story.
Last month, you made a speech at the Campaign for America’s Future Awards Gala. The gala was billed as an opportunity to celebrate “progressive champions.” You were one of those champions. In your speech, you said the following:
We diversify our curriculum instruction to meet the personal individual needs of all of our students: the blind, the hearing impaired, the physically challenged, the gifted and talented, the chronically tarded and the medically annoying.
…the chronically tarded and the medically annoying.
I can only assume that you thought that would be funny. I’m sure that it would have gotten a hearty laugh out of the Donald. But Ms. Eskelsen Garcia, mocking my child’s disability and her medical condition is not funny. Not even a little.
Let me say that again. Mocking my child’s disability and her medical condition is not funny. It’s reprehensible. And it’s made far more reprehensible by the source.
You represent three million teachers, Ms. Eskelsen Garcia. Three million people who show up at work each day and greet our children. Three million people who can either look at their disabled students just as they do their non-disabled peers – as capable, worthy, beautiful, complicated, fully dimensional human beings who can flourish with their care and expertise — or — as an annoyance, a cost, a hindrance. Or worse, as fodder for a punch line.
The American Association of People with Disabilities has made a statement forcefully condemning your words. I hope you’ve seen it. I hope you’ve taken it in and tried hard to understand how hurtful this is to so many and more importantly, why.
Ms. Eskelsen Garcia, you have an incredible opportunity here. I implore you to use it.
Apologize for your ill-chosen words.
Talk about why what you said was so vastly inappropriate and why no one else should ever follow suit.
You are an educator, Ms. Eskelsen Garcia.
Use this moment to educate.
My child deserves nothing less. And while I know better than to expect humanity from an entertainer cum politician, I hope like hell that I’m not mistaken in expecting it from her teachers.
Proud mother of Katie and Brooke
Proud daughter of educators
From the AAPD ..
You can do your part to call out Lily Eskelsen Garcia and the NEA by making your voice heard on Twitter:
“Chronically ‘tarded & medically annoying” is neither progressive nor acceptable @NEAToday @Lily_NEA @OurFuture #UnacceptableExample