Donald Trump is about to become President of the United States of America, the country I live in. I wish I could ask him some questions. Specifically:
Would you make fun of me in an exaggerated way like you did the reporter with a chronic physical impairment not so long ago?
I have obsessive-compulsive disorder. I take the drug Haloperidol to assuage the symptoms of Tourette syndrome. I make silly, bizarre noises sometimes and shrug my shoulders. I blink and widen my eyes frequently in ways that would not be considered “normal.” I sing nonsense songs because they “feel good.” I check the faucet, the stove over and over again to see that they’re off; I check the front door much too much to verify that it’s closed.
Would you lampoon me if you saw me doing that?
My disabilities severely hinder my ability to function when it comes to everyday activities. I take much longer to do them than others.
Would you imitate me in a derogatory fashion if you observed me behaving this way?
Some of my most pronounced idiosyncrasies might appear “funny,” but believe me, they’re not. They’re mental torture. They’re generally excruciating. It’s hard to explain the pain they put me through, but I can tell you this: It’s not something I’d wish on anyone.
Would you look at me superficially as a sick person with amusing mannerisms instead of as a human being?
I know there are questions circulating about whether you are anti-Semitic. As a Jew, I am concerned about that, for sure. Yet I am also concerned about the concomitant prejudices that usually go hand-in-hand with such bigotry, particularly bias against the disabled. You may note this issue reared its ugly head in a far too recent era: that of the Nazi regime. When you ridicule an individual with a physical or mental impairment, you’re treating him or her as a source of humor. You’re treating him as an object, not as a soul. You’re treating him or her as a joke.
Make no mistake, disabilities are no joke.
We may not see the same things the same way politically, but we’re all of the same species. I urge you to think of folks who are different from you in that vein. Even if we act “weird.” Even if we sound “weird.” Even if we look “weird.”
I may shrug my shoulders strangely and say a lot of kooky things. I still have a voice, though. I still have a voice.
And I’m using it now to ask you some questions. One day, perhaps, you’ll answer them.
I hope that time comes soon.