Tuesday, September 09, 2008

A Letter to Gov. Sarah Palin

Dear Sarah:

There is no doubt about it; your speech last Thursday at the GOP convention in Minneapolis definitely had an indelible mark on my psyche. I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind. Well, then again, there are some parts I’ve been able to get out of my mind.

For instance, the parts of your speech that you bragged about cutting spending in Alaska by getting rid of the personal chef and driver… Forgotten about. It wasn’t significant enough to give it much of my attention. Perhaps a great accomplishment for you and the state of Alaska… But to me, I found that particular achievement to be miniscule at best.

Secondly, the many parts of your speech, where you attacked Senator Obama’s inexperience… I didn’t like it. But you did what I expected you to do. So, I haven’t given it much thought since the speech. However, it did confirm some things about you and your character that I was suspecting before you actually gave your speech. What did it confirm? That no matter how Christian you say you are, you are willing to lie and mislead to get what you want.

And finally, the parts of your speech, where you praised your running mate for being a “maverick” and a “POW”, were expected. You’re supposed to prop the one up that you are running under. Good job. Too bad you couldn’t tell us anything else about the man that qualifies him to be President of the United States. Perhaps you will in your next speeches on the stump. Oh, I forgot. You’re traveling and giving the exact same speech that you gave at the GOP convention. Darn it!

So, what was it about your speech that has stuck with me all these days?

For starters, I was really ticked off that you and your handlers have openly objected to the media’s focus on your daughter’s pregnancy. But then you turn around and offer up Baby Trig to the media and anyone who wishes to politicize his young life. That sounds like a double-standard to me.

And what is that double standard about? You object to your oldest daughter, Bristol, being in the public eye. But Trig, your disabled child, is okay for public consumption?

Sounds to me like that “special love” that you have is more for Bristol than Trig. Or perhaps the “special love” that you have is for yourself. If having a child of yours in the spotlight is going to hurt your career as a politician, then you try to block it. But if having a child of yours in the spotlight will boost your career as a politician, then you take them up to the mountain and offer him up as a sacrifice.

Well, at least we now know that the “one” thing about you that is consistent is that you, no matter what it takes, will not let anything get in the way of your rise to power and prominence. Thanks for pointing that out to all of us who are still trying to figure you out. (Are you sure that your name is Sarah Palin and not Sarah Bush?)

Moving on… No point in getting stuck on the obvious…

The other part of your speech that upset me was the part, where you addressed the “families of special needs children.”

"And children with special needs inspire a very, very special love. To the families of special-needs children all across this country, I have a message: For years, you sought to make America a more welcoming place for your sons and daughters. I pledge to you that if we are elected, you will have a friend and advocate in the White House." Gov. Sarah Palin (The pit bull with lipstick)

Let me say this before I go any further. Sarah, it is not “special needs children”; it is “children with special needs.” See the difference? Don’t place the disability in front of the person. It’s people first.
Check this article out.

And by the way, many people with disabilities, including myself don’t like the term “special needs”. When you use the phrase “special needs” and “special love” I feel like you are offering me “special pity” for my very “special condition.”

I don’t need your “special love”; I need equal access to job training, employment, housing, transportation services, and information. My needs are indeed different and sometimes greater than others. But special… Take that label and give it to somebody else. I don’t want it.

The last point I want to make about the passage of your speech that struck me and has left me feeling disrespected, ignored, minimized, invisible, forgotten about, disregarded, and demeaned was your words of encouragement to the “families” of special needs children.

That’s so nice that you have children with disabilities on your mind. I guess we have Trig to thank for that. But Sarah, you should know that children grow up. I’m one of those kids that grew up and became an adult with a disability. And even though I have a significant disability, I decide for me. My mother doesn’t. My father does not choose for me. And no one else in my family makes any choices for me.

You should also know that I choose who I’m going to vote for without the guidance of my loving parents. And this woman with “special needs” have decided to vote for Senator Obama.

Here’s a bit of advice for you.
Do not minimize the millions of adults who have a physical and/or mental disability by talking to our families, as if we cannot listen, speak, or decide for ourselves.
Do you realize how disrespectful that is?

I can only hope that as you continue on your very new journey of being a mother of a child with a disability, you develop some cultural competence and some basic understanding about the concerns of not only families of children with disabilities, but also people with disabilities. Then, perhaps you will truly be an advocate.

Respectfully submitted,

Angela Braden

Sarah, you should check out these blog entries posted by other people that you struck with that nice little passage from your speech. I'm sure you can learn something from them. I certainly did.

Sarah Palin: Disability Advocate or Rhetorical Cloud?
An Open Letter to Sarah Palin
Is Sarah Palin exploiting her son's disability?


Kit (Keep It Trill) said...

Angie, as of today, she's officially the pig with lipstick, not the pitbull! The news will crack you up tonight! Serves her right for (allegedly) calling Obama a Sambo and Hillary a bitch, as she was reported to have said by an Alaskan waitress, "Sambo beat the bitch!"

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.