Tonight was the 2017 Golden Globes. Viewers tune in for the glitz and glamor of Hollywood but tonight we were given the extra privilege of hearing Dame Meryl Streep give an acceptance speech that drew applause (and some tears on my part).
After winning her Cecil B. DeMille award, a smiling Streep quietly started speaking. She spoke out against the hate and hypocrisy that the Republican candidate has brought out in people. What touched me the most was her specifically bringing up Donald’s imitation of a handicap reporter.
“There was one performance this year that stunned me. It sank its hooks in my heart. Not because it was good – there was nothing good about it – but it was effective, and it did its job. It made its intended audience laugh and show their teeth. It was that moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter: someone he outranked in privilege, power and the capacity to fight back. It kind of broke my heart when I saw it, and I still can’t get it out of my head because it wasn’t a movie – it was real life.” -Excerpt from Meryl Streep’s 2017 Golden Globes Speech
Let’s be real, Donald has spewed so much hate and vileness that it’s hard to keep up. But I share Streep’s problem of having that moment replayed in my mind over and over. The man who would become the next President of our country, mocking a disabled man’s movements and speech as an audience roared in approval and laughter. My heart was shredded as I watched this play out, turning off the TV before my own disabled son could see.
Do you know how it feels to see family who claim to love my son laugh at this reporter’s expense? To hear people excuse and condone Donald’s behavior? To tell your son he can do anything, but knowing in the back of your mind that people like Donald stand in his way? The fear that happens when a person like Donald is elected and instantly being fearful of the fact that your child is registered as a “Disabled Student”?
I understand that many on the far right don’t believe that the press has been fair to Donald. I don’t agree with that assessment, but I understand that that is their feelings and they are entitled to it. You don’t like what someone reports? Explain why. Discredit their report with facts pertaining to the article. To go after someone’s disability? That is saying that they aren’t worth hearing because of how they walk or talk. That is putting them at a lower value than the rest of us.
So no, don’t stand by Donald and claim to love people like my son. Don’t excuse and snigger at his behavior and then be appalled at the bullying my son incurs due to his disability. A bullying that has gotten so bad, we are leaving his current school district because of it. And just because it kills me: don’t claim to be pro-life when you clearly don’t value all life; only neurotypical/ physically-abled life.
I’m sure there is a lot more to the New York Times reporter, Serge Kovaleski, than his mannerisms from having arthrogryposis. Surely he is more than “that disabled reporter“.
My son is more than apraxia. He is incredibly intelligent, empathetic, intuitive, and kind. He is strong because he keeps trying everyday even when people laugh at him. At the age of five he displays stronger personality traits than Donald and his apologists.
So I thank you, Meryl Streep, for reminding people what empathy and kindness looks like. What being a decent human being looks like. That mocking a person’s disability should be flatly rejected and abhorred. Thank you for reminding this mother that others remember and care. That my son is seen as an equal by those who truly matter.
There are dark days ahead for public schools and the services they provide students with disabilities. Please use your voice, time, and resources to remind those in power that these kids matter. Also, echoing Streep, “We need the principled press to hold power to account, to call them on the carpet for every outrage. That’s why our founders enshrined the press and its freedoms in our constitution.” Support the press, support protest- that is the definition of patriotism.