Last week was a trying time for many who work for disability rights in America. Many of you share our deep concern with policy proposals put forward by the new President-elect, including deep cuts in the Medicaid funding that sustains the vast majority of supports to people with disabilities.
Yesterday, we learned that President-elect Trump will be appointing Steve Bannon, former CEO of the “alt-right” media outlet Breitbart, to the position of White House Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor. What views on disability will the President-elect’s most senior advisor bring to the job? E-mails that came to light last month give us a clue.
“I’ve got a cure for mental health issue[s]…Spank your children more,” wrote Bannon in an e-mail to another Breitbart staffer who had brought up recent congressional deliberations on mental health policy.
That’s right. Donald Trump’s chief adviser believes that all people with psychiatric disabilities need is a good hard spanking.
I wish I could say I was surprised.
This is the same Steve Bannon known for spreading racist, misogynist and anti-semitic faux-news across the internet. The same Steve Bannon who faced domestic violence charges after law enforcement found red marks on the neck of his wife while responding to a “domestic disturbance.” The same Steve Bannon whose ex-wife reported that he didn’t want his daughters “going to school with Jews.”
Of course we should know by now that people with disabilities won’t be exempt from this hate. When racism, anti-semitism and misogyny rear their ugly heads, ableism is never far behind. And so we have to be ready.
These are trying times. When people like Bannon are elevated to positions of power within our government, it can feel like the sky is falling, that all the work and progress we’ve made over the last ten years is on the verge of collapsing before our eyes. And the situation is indeed very serious. But we’re still here – and we won’t stop fighting for our rights.
In the face of these threats to our community, ASAN’s work has become more important than ever. So I’m asking you to make a contribution to help us step up our efforts over the next year to defend the rights of Autistic people and all people with disabilities. The services and policies we depend on require a robust defense – and we need your help more than ever to make that happen.
If you can, consider making a recurring donation, so that we now we can count on your support every month as we defend our community. All your donations are helpful and appreciated – but our recurring donors help us all the more, since your contributions let us plan our efforts with a more complete knowledge of the available resources we can invest in the fight.
I also understand and respect that not everyone can donate. Whether or not you can make a financial contribution, please consider ways you can fight for disability rights in your local community. Make sure your school board knows that you support educational inclusion – and will be watching to see how well they enforce children’s rights under IDEA. Speak up when you see an inaccessible building or a business turning away someone because of their disability. Discrimination thrives when we let it. And respond when you hear from us about the need to call your Member of Congress to urge them to vote against proposals to slash the safety net for people with disabilities. If we refuse to sit back and be silent, we can make a difference.
Above all, please know that you are not alone. Our community is strongest when we come together. We don’t just fight together, we support each other. We stand with you.
As always, thank you and Nothing About Us, Without Us.
Autistic Self Advocacy Network