Dear Mr. President:
Like many other people, I am deeply saddened and disappointed - and personally hurt and offended - after seeing your segment on the Leno show last night during which you made an offhand remark about the Special Olympics. You see, I am the mother of six children; our youngest son, Finnian, is eight months old and has Down syndrome. As a family, we are still in the process of dealing with the emotional hurdles faced by parents who have a child with an unexpected diagnosis of a life-long disability. It is difficult as a parent to come to terms with all of the unique challenges he will face over his lifetime. One of those challenges - and perhaps the greatest - is prejudice, which you made clear is alive and well, even in someone of your caliber - a highly educated man, and the leader of the free world. Shame on you.
What does your comment say about your true feelings about people with disabilities? What does it say about what you are teaching your own children about people with differences?
It is ironic that your comment came during what is being recognized as National Disability Awareness month. Frankly, I am not satisfied with the statements that have been made thus far by your spokespersons on your behalf in an effort to undertake damage control over your remark on Leno. I would like to see you personally show some accountability, without rationalization or excuses, and without patronizing those people with disabilities to whom you apparently feel superior.
I would like to tell you about another of my sons. His name is Kevin, and he is twelve years old. He adores his siblings and is a very protective big brother. Finnian’s special needs have brought out a facet of Kevin that has made me proud beyond words. He has made it his mission to speak out against prejudice towards people with disabilities. He risks humiliation and alienation of his peers (which, at twelve years old, is HUGE) to educate people about the use of language that is offensive and disparaging towards people with disabilities. You, sir, could take a lesson from this twelve-year-old boy.
Adieu - After more than two years and 555 posts (556 counting this one!), I'm saying goodbye to Adventures in Motherhood. I'm ready for a change, and I've started ...
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