November 19, 2009

A Message for Bernie Goldberg

I'm going to start off by saying that I had no idea who Bernie Goldberg was before this. A few minutes on Wikipedia and his own website told me plenty, that he's got a snappy suit with a nice tie, and that he's a conservative writer with a penchant for hyperbolic book titles. And that's fine, really. There are plenty of conservative writers whom I've admired in the past. (Well, "plenty" is perhaps pushing it.) I realize that sounds dangerously close to "some of my best friends are black", but it is what it is. In my own writing, I try to be fair and I try not to be boring. (It's harder than it sounds.) Follow those two rules and I don't care what your politics are.

I also never watch Fox News (see above re: fair and not boring), so I probably would have missed Bernie Goldberg's comments if not for Jon Stewart last night. The topic was Sarah Palin, or more precisely the media reaction to Sarah Palin. The part that jumped out at me came at about 6:15 in the show:

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If you don't feel like sitting through that, here's the money quote from Mister Goldberg:

"She [Palin] has five kids. Liberals don't have five kids. One of them has Down Syndrome. Liberals certainly don't allow THAT to happen."


So let me strip this of politics for a moment, because I find it equally distasteful when people of any political stripe do this, and I try (with admittedly varying degrees of success, I'm sure, so call me a hypocrite if you like) to avoid doing it myself. But let me just state something that would seem to be torn right from the pages of The Encyclopedia of No Shit.

Families of kids with disabilities are not here to serve as your political talking points.

Whether or not you are a good parent to a child with a disability has nothing to do with your politics. Conservatives have broken children, liberals have broken children, and we all do the best that we can.

Conservative politicians say stupid things ("How does special education, $6 billion dollars, stimulate the economy?" - Sen. John Kyl), and so do liberals (President Obama's idiotic joke about the Special Olympics). If there's one thing I think we can all agree on, it's that neither party has been particularly sensitive to the needs of the disability community, not when it comes to actually doing something besides talking pretty. If you are in public office and your last name isn't "Kennedy", chances are, you haven't done enough to help these kids.

Perhaps I'm just not looking hard enough, but I can't find any information online that suggests that Bernie Goldberg has any particular expertise regarding children with disabilities. I felt pretty confident, therefore, in sending a message to Bernie via Twitter, one that I am absolutely 100% certain will fall on deaf ears.

"Please politicize your own kids, not ours."



Jeff Mather said...

Rob, I agree completely with what you're saying. I believe that Bernie Goldberg's comments are less about parenting per se and are actually coded language about abortion. Anyway, still disgraceful.

Rob Rummel-Hudson said...

Yeah, bad parents or baby killers. We just can't win.

Gwen said...

God. That really upsets me. And how stupid is this guy? What does he think this kind of pandering is going to get him? I can't imagine that even the right-wing-est parents of disabled kids believe that liberals automatically abort DS fetuses. So he's speaking to the psychos only... what, in the hopes that Sarah Palin will put him in her imaginary cabinet? I don't get it.

Christopher said...

I agree that it is distasteful to use it as political chip. My nephew is a wonderful child who will always need the support of his family to live in this world.

He did not ask to be born the way he was. If you ask most of my friends I am a flaming liberal. My brother is a conservative. These labels mean nothing to us when it comes to the care and well being of his son.

mjf said...

Exactly, and that creep KNOWS IT, he just doesn't care. Lying means nothing to these haters.

I'd love to see stats on political affiliation of those who many are actually Republicans? My guess is a lot of them since it is THEY who don't believe in birth control over abstinence, and the HIGHEST rates of unwed mothers and pregnant teens are in the south, for gawd sakes.....Texas is, or was #1 now too long ago.

It doesn't bother them at all to lie.....neither does it bother their minions!

Soha said...

Good for you and I completely agree!!!!!

Julia O'C said...

I guess I would be considered a liberal. I voted for Obama. I think everyone should have the right to health care and marriage. I am also Pro-Choice. When I was 5 months pregnant, my husband and I were given the option to terminate because the baby had (has) profound neurological issues. I am very grateful that we were given the opportunity to decide for ourselves if this was something we could handle emotionally and financially. I'm also very grateful that this decision was not made FOR us, by someone who doesn't know us. We *chose* to keep Emmett, my brain-damaged little wonderboy.

Despite how much I love my son and how glad I am that he's here, I still believe in the right to choose. Raising a special needs child is HARD. And someone who decides that they are not up to the task of raising a disabled child is not a bad person. I'm sorry if this rant makes no sense. I'm just so angry right now that I can barely organize my thoughts.

watchwhathappens said...

Hmmm, interesting. I know liberals who have 5 kids, and another (liberal) couple who has a son with Down Syndrome. And that's just ME as a sample. There goes his theory.

miti38 said...

We are going through devastating funding cuts in Massachusetts right now, and the adult disability community is taking a big hit. Somehow, even though all of us are adults many many more years than we are chidren, many think it's "okay" to defund adult programming. Is it because they are "cute little kids" anymore? Or is it because children are entitled to services and adults are not? Either way, Senator Ted Kennedy is profoundly missed. For many of us in our state, it is an ache and there is a hole that can never be filled. No-one can ever take his place, the best most of us can do is to keep the faith and keep working. And that honors the children and adults we work with and honor Teddy as well.

Corinn said...

I would venture to guess that a LOT of conservatives suddenly turn into "the only moral abortion is my abortion" type when faced with the choice of having a special-needs child or not. -_-

Suzanne said...

Not sure what to say other than, as always, I think you nailed it.

I can't possibly be feeling the anger you do about this, since I don't have a child with disabilities (or any children at this point), but if I'm pissed enough to want to punch him in the face through my screen, I can't imagine what you're thinking.

Julia O'C - Don't worry. Everything you said makes perfect sense. I think it's awesome that 1) You were given a choice 2) You found the courage to make the choice to continue the pregnancy, come what may 3) You're stepping up to what's certainly the biggest and most important challenge of your life. 4) You're the mom of a wonderboy, because of your bravery and strength. :)

Jim Howard said...

I agree with Rob that kids should be left out of political discussions. All kids, whatever their individual needs and interests.

I'd encourage my liberal friends to act to discourage attacks on the families of their political opponents.

Wouldn't it be great if President Obama would speak against the attacks on the families of his political opponents?

Tricia said...

Thanks for making me aware of this! Well said. Hope you don't mind, but I shared this on my FB page. :)

Anonymous said...

Nice summary; particularly the quote from the encyclopedia. I grew up in a very conservative area, and live in a conservative area now. A colleague has a daughter with cognitive disabilities, and he's about as conservative as you can get. The parents of one of my new students this year is about as liberal as you can get (judging by the behavior issues experienced the day after election day when the Republicans swept the state & his statements). This is why I vote with my brain, and I'm not registered to a party. Twits.

jane said...

You don't know me, but I check in frequently and am often inspired by your blog. I just have to say, if you're ever looking for a collaborator on The Encyclopedia of No Shit, I am interested : ) That has to be one of the best lines I've heard in a while.

Miz Kizzle said...

Liberals don't have five kids? Since when? I never heard of this Bernie guy before but he makes sweeping statements without checking out his facts. He seems to live in a stereotypical world where conservatives are fundies with dozens of kids because Jeebus wants it that way, don't ya know and all liberals subscribe to the NY Times and have 2.25 kids.
Sarah Palin, with her not-so-shabby IQ of 125, would know better than to make dumb assumptions like that.

terena said...

Thank you. I can't believe he said something so idiotic. Oh wait, yes I can.