The Coronavirus Pandemic Is Settling Some Old Arguments About Ableism

By Andrew Pulrang:  For More Info, Go Here…

A long-time, low-grade worry for people with disabilities has become a red alert in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Most disabled people at one time or another worry that we and our so-called “special needs” will be seen as too much trouble, too much of a burden, or too difficult a problem to be worth the effort.

It’s the kind of worry where every time you express it, people passionately deny it. And if you repeat your concern, they even get a bit angry at you because obviously you are just looking for something to be worried and angry about.

What’s wrong with you? Do you seriously think we don’t care about you, that we want you out of the way or dead? Is your self-esteem really that low? Are you paranoid? Or is it all just a rhetorical stance meant to further some kind of political agenda?

Now we are faced with the very real possibility that disabled and chronically ill people will be intentionally passed over for medical care, and allowed to die of COVID-19 precisely because of our pre-existing disabilities or chronic illnesses. This is horrifying. The fact that it’s most likely illegal isn’t that much of a comfort. Disabled people know better than most that in a crisis, in times of confusion, fear, and deprivation, rules and norms meant to protect us can disappear like wisps of smoke. There have been some encouraging words from the U.S. federal government, but we just don’t know how things will actually play out. That’s another familiar experience for most disabled people … the gap between the way things are supposed to be, the way people think they are, and the way they actually are for people with disabilities.

Beyond the immediate threat and its implications, the pandemic also settles some very old arguments, between disabled and non-disabled people, and within the disability community, about ableism itself. Specifically, there are three persistent arguments about the nature of ableism that are being powerfully discredited by the coronavirus pandemic.

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