Weekly Reading List

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Back to weekly article reviews!

Disabled People Will Die Under Trump: An Emergency Plea to Allies
Carolyn Zaikowski, Medium - November 18, 2016

This will not be an easy read for anyone not at least familiar with current radical and social justice dialog. It may not even be comprehensible for standard-brand voters. That’s because it is an urgent and stealthily critical message FOR the radical left / social justice communities. The author says a lot of what I have been feeling about people further to my Left during pretty much the whole 2016 campaign. There can be a degree of privileged detachment and unreality not just to “white liberals,” but to cutting edge Leftists who often see themselves as the true realists of the Left. Purposefully ditched or obliviously botched election outcomes have real life consequences, an often ugly, harmful ones. I sense that Zaikowski’s politics are quite far to the Left of mine. For one thing, I never bought the idea that Hillary Clinton was actively awful as she seems to have done, despite voting for her in the end. But I relate so much to so much of what she says here about the Left’s frequent abstractness, and its ableism.

How to call your reps when you have social anxiety
Cordelia, Echo Through The Fog - November 19, 2016

I have to confess that I am one of those people who rolls his eyes just a bit when I hear people talk about having “anxiety.” I can’t help being kind of a crabby old guy and lumping it all together with the stereotype that Millennials, in particular, are an especially fragile and helpless generation, compare to … well, mine. On the other hand I also strongly suspect that the more frequent and open talk about anxiety is a positive sign that problems people have always had are now less stigmatized, and therefore maybe easier to cope with. And it’s hard to deny that there are people who experience mental turmoil around everyday activities … turmoil so intense that the word “anxiety” seems ridiculously inadequate. All of which is just background to why I found this article / comic so wonderful. On one level, it’s an advocacy tip sheet for people with anxiety. On another level, it’s a pretty great all-purpose guide to calling lawmakers’ offices, something lots of people find daunting, whether or not they actually have “anxiety.”

Along the Autism Spectrum, a Path Through Campus Life
Jan Hoffman, New York Times - November 19, 2016

I think that if I were autistic, I would be mortified by a lot of what’s said in this article. It tips the balance between accurate depiction of autism and stereotype, placing it just across the line into the realm of simplistic stereotyping. At the same time, the article has a positive, empowering message overall, and to most readers, it will probably constitute a positive revelation. It is certainly miles better than anything Autism Speaks produces. There’s value in that.

Is This Man Smart Enough To Face The Death Penalty?
Peter Aldhous, BuzzFeed - November 15, 2016

This article, too, explores the murky boundaries between accurate realism and crude stereotype. It examines how some states, like Texas, use a sort of popular conception of “mental retardation,” rather than careful clinical criteria, to determine who can and cannot be executed for capital crimes. The thing is, some of the Texas criteria, based in popular stereotypes, also seem to make a little bit of sense. The problem is that intellectual disability is far more complicated and subtle than literary archetypes. Maybe the key is to start with the popular conception, and modify it with expert assessment. Of course to me, the other key is to abolish the death penalty altogether. But that is, I guess, a different discussion.

Questions you need answered if traveling with a disability
Priscilla Liguori, AOL Lifestyle - November 21, 2016

Here we have what might be termed the conciliatory approach to individual self-advocacy for disabled people. It’s all perfectly sensible, assuming there is goodwill and eagerness to please all around. Unfortunately, this patient, understanding, personal diligence approach doesn’t take take laziness, stubborn bureaucracy, or ingrained ableism into account. Still, if you’re privileged enough to be traveling by air, these tips may actually work about 2/3 of the time. It’s a useful guide, unless and until you encounter real resistance or hostility.