At first it was funny. Now, it just looks petty.
Headlining a June 29th bill: Sarah Palin to Visit Georgia:
She is a sought-after speaker and is considered a possible GOP candidate for president in 2012. Still, ticket sales have been somewhat sluggish for her appearance here. On Monday, tickets to the event had been marked down to half price.
I believe this to be a first, the press reporting on a low-attended Palin-headlined event. There could be any number of reasons for the bad ticket sales. One guess would be that nobody wants to hear Palin speak about disability and special needs. She's a glamorous person. It's not a very glamorous topic.
Another guess is that many might sense a disconnect between extremist-conservative "values", and a cynical, opportunistic appropriation of civil rights rhetoric and ideals. Does anyone wonder about Sarah Palin's personal position on the Americans With Disabilities Act? I do.
No liberal, or even the average libertarian, is trying like the social conservative to legally define those they deem illegitimate out of the populace. Yet social conservatives are sure to claim that certain people less deserving of rights than they (mislabeled "special rights" groups) can change around lifestyles, without ever acknowledging they can do the same with their own lifestyle choice of politicized, mobilized bigotry. It's thus no mistake Palin-endorsed tea party favorites like Rand Paul resent and revile the ADA, and run on platforms to shut down the Department of Education.
Without the ADA (or what's become of it), EEOC IDEA and other conservative bugbears of so-called big government socialist communist muslim integration Thurgood Marshall jewish harvard lesbianism, a non-disabled majority cannot be assured an unearned advantage in access to work, education and housing. And that's a travesty in the world of majority-über-alles conservatism. This rigged-for-majorities government ideal, they mislabel "limited government".
True to form, Palin, it's said, used her bully pulpit to grandstand about being the parent of Trig, and campaign against health care laws.
"It was such an answered prayer the moment that Trig was born. It was the greatest, most obvious manifestation of a prayer when Trig was born," she said. "He looked up at me like he was saying, 'I'm here mom. Now are you going to trust that all is going to be OK?'"
The event was billed as a nonpolitical benefit hosted by the Gwinnett County ministry Zachariah's Way, which helps churches serve disabled and special needs parishioners. But Palin couldn't resist a few knocks on the Obama administration.
She said she would work to encourage Americans to treat special needs children with respect and that she was disappointed that one of Obama's aides used the word "retarded." White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel apologized earlier this year for using the word to describe liberal activists whose tactics on health care he questioned.
"America's too good for that," she said to applause. "We're too good to have to put up with that."
Ahh, that's Sarah, our unrueful bundle of -isms-on-display. When things happen to them and their families, conservatives suddenly become liberals, if only for a moment, even if it means public inconsistency. For that moment, the whole world shifts, and they discover the low bar to the limits of their own humanity. If only in an instant, all their Biblically-correct traditional values and superior morals are meaningless.
Such crises of tradition are an opportunity for self-education.
Curated by Advocating Change Together, this undated Alaska Health and Human Services exhibit, called, simply, "Disability History Panels", chronicled the shifts in paradigm regarding disability rights and disability advocacy. In the US, the legacy is rooted solidly in the civil rights tradition. (Repeating: not the conservative evangelical tradition, not the conservative/confederate/majority-rule tradition; the leftwing, community-organized, pro-choice/physical-integrity, individual-independence tradition.)
The 20th century veterans' rights movement(s) (which could also be said to have started in earnest with the Bonus Army's protests against regressive/conservative/Republican government) was often a racially-integrated movement, despite the US military's segregation policies at the behest of bigots/conservatives. As always, such movements are tarred with slurs like communist, socialist, and now feminazi, hitler, half-breed muslin marxist babykiller social justice, redefining traditional fill-in-the-blank, and other majoritarian-supremacist nonsense.
The oft-selectively-literalist social conservative takes from signs and texts what they like, and leave the rest; but to the credit of their more open-minded members, this behavior can sometimes lead to interesting results. Enter Joni Eareckson Tada. Eareckson Tada and her organizations Joni and Friends, and the Christian Institute on Disability (CID) seek to redefine the concept of "healing" itself in contradistinction to the melodramatic, circus/carnival aspects of evangelistic faith (of which Eareckson Tada was once an integral part. A critic of carnival barker Christianity, she remains a stalwart of the name-recognition evangelical set, but in a different capacity [long; 49:00].)
The CID's position on disability rights and advocacy is useful in understanding the work of Zacharaiah's Way/P.U.R.E Project, the group Sarah Palin spoke to, on June 29. These ministries mark a significant paradigm shift as regards disability, especially among some of conservative Christianity's worst offenders: those who believe in supernatural healing, with (outwardly-evident) disabilities as a sign of a bad faith.
As documented by the Alaska HSS/ACT exhibit, this threadbare old trope dates back eons. It was recently re-inscribed by ultra-conservative Bob Marshall, who claimed disabled children are a punishment for prior abortions.
Palin persists in labeling her imagined opponents in media — i.e. everyone outside of NewsCorp — "lamestream". Why doesn't anyone point out to Sarah that "lame" is often the first word of awareness around dismantling one's own abelist language habits? Nobody corrects her, at least not in a public way; she never apologizes.
Don't tell me it's for fear of being considered politically correct. Zachariah's Way/The P.U.R.E. Project takes their own challenge to language as seriously as possible:
We're certainly not so shallow to believe or presume that a change of terminology is going to change everything or that it fixes all the problems. But, we believe that most people (yes, even Christians!) automatically dismiss any subject related to disabilities or special needs, simply because they don't think it has any meaning or pertinence to them! We at Zachariah's Way believe that we must get past this mindset (in actuality, heart set) of solely identifying people by what is wrong with them (we even go so far as to constantly identify people by their diagnosis, e.g. there's that little AUTISTIC boy).
We believe it is past the time that we constantly and consistently refer to these sweet, blessed people and their families by labels that are certainly not edifying and at the same time, in many cases, actually serve to misinform and many times actually scare people away from ministry opportunities! Again, we're not so naive to think by using different words that everything will change. We do believe the change is necessary and P.U.R.E. is a much better, positive, and edifying term embodying spiritual truth than what we so commonly use today.
Therefore, as part of this effort, we are introducing a new, positive and accurate description and word for a person with disabilities, P.U.R.E.
That's enough of that. From there it starts to get even more facepalm, but the point is well-taken that language matters, as language so often reveals the etymology of our biases towards some and against so many others.
And changing one's language means that lifestyles, values and thus traditions can also change, so let's be frank about this very public hypocrisy around disability, government funding for special needs education, so-called PC, and the political effects of language: If Palin is going to take such pearl-clutching, public umbrage to the word "retard", if tea party conservatives have suddenly developed such sensitivity to language such as "teabagger", and the RWNJ as a whole are going to try and co opt "sexism", "feminism", "MLK", "diversity", and "discrimination" for themselves, they could at the very least take a crash course in person-first language.
It's got nothing to do with political correctness; it's simply a matter of accuracy.
Sarah Palin, wittingly or far more likely by accident, has once again given her minions another chance to think twice about their behavior and how their personally-/morally-/ethically-correct hangups and superiority trips adversely affect those around them. Will they ever will, or will they won't?
Like all questions regarding the Palinites, the answer remains to be seen.
More on the problematic rhetoric of "purity" and "specialness" to come.