Trump Mocking Physical Disabilities Is Nothing New

26 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Donald Trump Called Out for Appearing to Mock Reporter With Disability, Offered Sensitivity Training.

WASHINGTON (TheBlaze/AP) — An advocacy group is offering Donald Trump sensitivity training after the Republican presidential candidate appeared to mock a reporter with a disability. If you’ve been on social media today, it’s likely you have seen the video that has emerged of Donald Trump “imitating” a disabled New York Times journalist.

Donald Trump’s marathon of meanness reached a new low when the presidential candidate mocked a reporter’s physical handicap during a campaign rally.Donald Trump, the property magnate and Republican presidential contender, is in trouble once again for his bombastic campaign rhetoric, this time for mocking a disabled newspaper reporter. Trump, speaking to supporters in South Carolina on Tuesday, was defending his remarks about Muslims in Jersey City supposedly celebrating 9/11 when he called out reporter Serge Kovaleski — whose Washington Post article Trump quoted. “Now the poor guy, you ought to see the guy,” Trump said, mimicking the reporter. “‘Uhh, I don’t know what I said. A few seconds in – once he really gets into it – Trump holds his hand in front of his chest in an exaggerated, claw-like position. “Disability is repulsive,” is the message he conveys, as if degrading an opponent by imitating their disabled body is a legitimate way to bring them down to size. The assertion has since been fact-checked and discredited by law enforcement and government officials who were in New Jersey in the days and weeks following the terrorist attacks.

Kovaleski, who once worked at the Daily News, suffers from arthrogryposis, a congenital condition that limits the movement of the joints and weakens the muscles around them. Meanwhile, Trump is reportedly annoying reporters by requiring that journalists who hear nature’s call while covering his campaign rallies be escorted from the news “pen” to bathrooms. This is a man who in the past week alone has refused to rule out identification for Muslim Americans noting their religion, and has declared that even if waterboarding terror suspects doesn’t work, he would approve it because “they deserve it”. The gesture was all the more personal because Kovaleski covered Trump while reporting for another US daily between 1987 and 1993, a tumultuous period for Trump in which he struggled through several financial setbacks. “The sad part about it is, it didn’t in the slightest bit jar or surprise me that Donald Trump would do something this low-rent, given his track record,” Kovaleski was quoted as saying by Washington Post. In an interview on CNN this week, Kovaleski said he did not recall ‘anyone saying there were thousands, or even hundreds, of people celebrating.’”

When I watched this latest video of Trump, I just felt the sort of weary sadness that comes from no longer being shocked at watching a person mocking someone for being disabled. That lack of shock isn’t because the person doing the mocking is a ludicrous figure, such as Trump, but because when you are disabled you experience this kind of behaviour all the time. Just last weekend, for example, I was in a London cab, and the driver – already frustrated at having to help my wheelchair into the taxi – refused to talk to me directly. There is something about the humiliation of being belittled for having a disability, let alone outright mocked, that leaves you wanting to grab back any level of self-respect you can get.

What is perhaps more shocking than Trump’s actions are the stories the disabled community has to share about incidents when their disability was mocked. “Someone once shouted ‘Bet you have fun with that on at night, don’t you, lad?’ as my [boyfriend] pushed me in my wheelchair,” one woman told me. In comment given on background to The Washington Post, however, a campaign official claimed that Trump “was merely emphasizing the uncertainty of the verbal/written statement provided by the reporter in regards to his article.” That’s going to be a hard line to sell.

For example: “I was called a scrounger and spat at just because I use a wheelchair.” Perhaps the most telling – and depressing – comment was from the disabled woman who noted insults “tend to bounce off me” now. It says something that even the word to describe prejudice against disabled people – disablism – isn’t familiar in the way that homophobia, racism or sexism are.

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