(NOTE: I know everyone is weighing in on the Senate rejection of the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. It makes no sense to me either. Here’s the only reasonable explanation I can come up with.)
I, for one, have been pondering this question for months: what the hell is going on with these people? By these people I mean the American right-of-center movers and shakers, or what pundit David Frum dubbed “the conservative media complex.” I’m not trying to start a political fight here – the election, thank heavens, is over – but just trying to see the grand strategy behind many of the words and actions recently espoused by our brothers and sisters on the right. Frankly, by the conventional wisdom that says people say what they mean, it doesn’t add up.
When the sharp-tongued Anne Coulter, for instance, calls the President of the United States a “retard” or calls the fastest-growing segment of the population, Latinos, lazy “poorest of the poor” having illegitimate kids and sucking on the government teat, she can’t be entirely serious. She’s a smart girl. She knows she is alienating the very people her party needs to attract or go the way of the Whigs. Something else is up her proverbial sleeve. I don’t know exactly what, but something.
And Fox News, an institution so often wrong lately that you start looking for other motives than their often-ascribed role as an organ of the Republican Party. I’m not the first to say that Fox, like Steven Colbert, may be in the irony business. What they say may be exactly the opposite of what they mean. When they call Mr. Obama a socialist or a racist or that he won the election because “people want stuff,” they have to know that millions of people will see that as nasty, mean, and untrue and instantly lean the other way. That way Fox gets more viewers. If you believe what they say, you’ll tune in. If you don’t believe it, you’ll tune in to be motivated in the opposite direction.
It’s one of the oldest tricks in the book: reverse psychology. “Don’t vote for him, he’s not one of us, he’s from Kenya and hates rich people!” “Okay, I get it, I’m not one of you, either, and I hate rich people, so I’m voting for him.” Donald Trump is a master at this. People laugh and make fun of his hair, then do the very reverse of what he says.
Which brings me to the Senate rejection of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, or CRPD, a few days back. The next Congress may reverse the decision, but still, you got to ask yourself, why would Senate conservatives come down on the side of opposing the fundamental rights of the disabled? Their reasoning that it will infringe on the rights of homeschoolers, for instance, doesn’t hold water. The treaty was just a non-binding pledge: treat people with disabilities with some respect, please. It was a statement bland enough that even China and Iran signed on, and they don’t like anyone telling them what to do. This blithe rejection of basic decency will stick in the crawl of America’s 40-50 million people with disabilities for decades. Sounds like political suicide to me.
Unless you apply reverse psychology. “Crippled people don’t deserve rights or respect” may be a sly way of evoking this response from the disabled worldwide: “They sure the hell do! I’m going to law school so I can sue you!” Or, “They sure the hell do! I’m going to spend my life fighting for disability rights in Kenya!” Or, “They sure the hell do! And just to prove it, I’ll never take another dime from the government!”
Conservatives believe in personal initiative, hard work, and taking responsibility for your own life. What better way to motivate someone with a disability to do just that than to tell him or her that disability rights are only for bleeding-heart wimps and “Hey, what are you going to do about it”?
© 2012 Allen Rucker |
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