CLOSINGS: View Closings

Trump doesn't get what makes the Paralympics great

The scene at the White House on Friday should have been one of celebration and positivity -- a time to honor Olympic ...

Posted: May 1, 2018 9:21 AM
Updated: May 1, 2018 9:21 AM

The scene at the White House on Friday should have been one of celebration and positivity -- a time to honor Olympic and Paralympic athletes. Instead, it quickly became one of derogatory rhetoric and confusion.

"What happened with the Paralympics was so incredible and so inspiring to me," President Donald Trump said during the ceremony, surrounded by members of the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. "And I watched -- it's a little tough to watch too much, but I watched as much as I could."

Trump's words reflects an ever-growing troubling pattern of treatment toward the disability community. People with disabilities are often dismissed, devalued and discriminated against, even though progress has been made over the years to change society's perception.

And, in 2018, perhaps there's no greater offender than the President himself.

Naturally, it didn't take long for the backlash to the President's remarks to begin, with everyone from actress Minnie Driver, star of ABC's "Speechless," to athletes themselves voicing their disgust and disappointment.

The Paralympics responded as well the next day, tweeting: "Record numbers around the world are not finding @Paralympics tough to watch. Billions of viewers now take in the Paralympics in hundreds of countries around the world. We hope the US President continues to watch and be inspired by the Paralympics."

Still some, like The Washington Post's Aaron Blake, were quick to dismiss Trump's statement as "innocuous" and merely referring to time constraints placed on the President.

Honestly, that explanation seems far more unlikely, especially when you consider Trump's fondness for watching television and his past behavior toward people with disabilities. It's an explanation that's too simple and too neat.

To be sure, the Paralympic Games were considerably shorter than the Olympics (94 hours and 176 hours, respectively), and, yes, Trump is arguably a very busy man. But surely he could skip a round on the golf course to support the fine athletes of Team USA. And, if his time constraints really did prevent him from watching, then wouldn't those same constraints apply to the Olympics, making them "tough to watch" as well? Why single out the Paralympic team?

The far more likely explanation is that, once again, Trump's words highlight his deep-seated ableism -- that pervasive prejudice against people with disabilities.

Trump's thoughtless words are something we should all be concerned with, especially when they're yet another example of his damaging treatment of the disability community. And it's particularly problematic considering that, too often, the disability community is overlooked and undervalued.

Of course, Trump has a long and storied history of derogatory words and insulting, demeaning gestures when it comes to the topic of disabilities. Not even one month after his January 2017 inauguration, the Disability section on the White House website was removed. Although it's common practice for each new administration to revamp the site, this section has yet to be added back and White House officials haven't commented on its absence.

And it's even harder to forget his crude mocking of New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski during a speech in 2015 -- an incident for which Trump refused to apologize despite a public outcry and video footage.

Which is why to go from calling the athletes "incredible" to downright insulting them in the very next sentence is nothing short of dangerous. By saying it's tough to watch, Trump is invoking that archaic stereotype that people with disabilities shouldn't be seen -- that they make people too uncomfortable to be out in public.

As Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Illinois, tweeted on Sunday, "It's not 'tough to watch' incredible @Paralympics athletes compete and showcase their talents, it's inspiring. These brave athletes overcome a lot to get to the finish line."

Indeed, Trump missed an important opportunity here to support people with disabilities. Now more than ever, we need positive representations when it comes to disabilities, and the Paralympic team is such a powerful force in the movement.

Trump could have thanked the team for their wonderful contribution to the Olympic spirit, but he didn't. He could have lifted them up instead of putting them down, but he didn't. And that subtext behind his words spoke volumes.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 60101

Reported Deaths: 1689
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin19057831
Ramsey7444265
Dakota4334104
Anoka3618114
Stearns288620
Washington207744
Nobles17626
Olmsted171823
Scott153218
Mower10992
Rice10298
Blue Earth9115
Wright8695
Carver8413
Clay77940
Sherburne7188
Kandiyohi6891
St. Louis52119
Lyon4263
Todd4242
Freeborn3591
Steele3451
Nicollet33313
Benton3203
Watonwan3080
Winona25916
Crow Wing23214
Beltrami2230
Le Sueur2171
Martin2075
Chisago1991
Otter Tail1933
Goodhue1929
Cottonwood1770
McLeod1730
Pipestone1559
Becker1521
Polk1504
Waseca1480
Douglas1391
Itasca13812
Unassigned13741
Carlton1350
Pine1290
Dodge1260
Isanti1230
Murray1221
Chippewa1031
Wabasha910
Morrison891
Brown882
Faribault870
Meeker852
Rock830
Sibley832
Jackson810
Koochiching773
Pennington751
Mille Lacs713
Cass692
Fillmore640
Renville635
Lincoln570
Grant533
Swift521
Yellow Medicine520
Roseau470
Pope460
Aitkin401
Houston390
Norman390
Redwood360
Kanabec341
Wilkin343
Hubbard330
Marshall300
Mahnomen261
Wadena260
Red Lake240
Big Stone220
Lake200
Stevens180
Clearwater140
Traverse100
Lac qui Parle70
Cook30
Kittson30
Lake of the Woods20

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 48398

Reported Deaths: 925
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk10223207
Woodbury371652
Black Hawk311566
Linn234887
Johnson206719
Dallas187835
Buena Vista179112
Scott171614
Dubuque166531
Marshall143826
Pottawattamie131426
Story116014
Wapello88133
Muscatine84648
Webster8017
Crawford7273
Sioux6253
Cerro Gordo60917
Warren5571
Tama54929
Jasper47626
Wright4651
Plymouth4579
Dickinson3804
Clinton3793
Louisa37814
Washington29810
Boone2553
Hamilton2461
Franklin23910
Bremer2247
Clarke1993
Emmet1914
Carroll1881
Clay1861
Shelby1831
Hardin1780
Des Moines1692
Marion1690
Poweshiek1578
Benton1551
Allamakee1544
Floyd1532
Jackson1511
Mahaska13917
Cedar1311
Guthrie1315
Jones1302
Buchanan1271
Hancock1222
Butler1212
Henry1203
Madison1182
Pocahontas1152
Lee1133
Lyon1132
Delaware1111
Cherokee1081
Humboldt1081
Harrison1060
Clayton1043
Taylor980
Iowa971
Winneshiek951
Page940
Monona910
Kossuth890
Mills890
Palo Alto840
Sac840
Calhoun832
Jefferson830
Osceola830
Fayette820
Grundy791
Winnebago790
Mitchell780
Union771
Monroe727
Cass711
Worth660
Lucas634
Montgomery594
Davis551
Chickasaw540
Howard490
Appanoose483
Fremont420
Greene410
Keokuk341
Van Buren341
Adair290
Ida290
Audubon281
Decatur230
Ringgold211
Wayne191
Adams160
Unassigned70
Rochester
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 65°
Feels Like: 72°
Mason City
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 73°
Albert Lea
Broken Clouds
72° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 72°
Austin
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 66°
Feels Like: 79°
Charles City
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 73°
Scattered Storms, Warm & Humid
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Rochester Area Restore celebrates 6 years

Image

Saturday Weather

Image

Grief mask making workshop

Image

Mace's Weather 8/8

Image

Tractor pullers excited to rev up their engines in 2020

Image

Need school supplies? Iowa tax-free weekend on clothes

Image

War hero remembered with motorcycle ride

Image

Families react to RPS's "Return to Learn" plan

Image

Sara's 10pm Forecast- Friday

Image

Giving your best volunteer of the month

Community Events