Within a couple of days of the shocking and violent march of neo-Nazis, anti-Semites, and white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, many disability organizations issued statements about it. For example:
NCIL Statement on the White Supremacist Violence in Charlottesville
AAPD Statement Condemning the Violence and White Supremacy of the “Unite the Right” Rally
ADAPT’s statement condemning racist violence in Charlottesville, VA
We at NCCI share and echo these sentiments.
For these organizations, their members and supporters, condemning the events in Charlottesville in very blunt, specific terms was an obvious thing to do. However, it may not be obvious to every disabled person or disability activist why this is so.
Here, then, are three reasons why a disability organization would speak out on an event like what happened in Charlottesville:
1. Disability intersects with other identities, communities, and issues. Lots of disabled people are also Black, Jewish, LGBTQ, and/or other identities that were explicitly targeted by the hateful rhetoric and actions of the alt-right, neo-Nazi, and white supremacists who marched in Charlottesville. Even if disabled people weren't explicitly targeted as disabled people, members of our community certainly were. The disability community is uniquely diverse by definition, and we should all be ready to stick up for all of our brothers and sisters, even if some of us don't feel immediately, personally discriminated against or attacked.
2. Historically, far-right ideologies have NOT been friendly to people with disabilities. Actually, that is an understatement. To cite just one example, disabled people were systematically murdered by state doctors in Nazi Germany, specifically because of how disability was regarded in Nazi ideology. More broadly, ideology of any kind based on the superiority and dominance of one type of person over others almost never bodes well for disabled people, in any historical era. We don't have to have been explicitly named by the tiki-torch carrying racists in Charlottesville to feel legitimately threatened as people with disabilities.
3. Disabled people, and people who care about disability issues, aspire to be fully participating citizens who take full responsibility for what happens in our society. This is happening in our society. Those of us in the disability community also resolve to speak for ourselves, and not simply rely on the good will of others to "take care of us." Again, this means taking responsibility for addressing emerging threats, and not waiting for others to do it for us.
These facts are more than enough to justify and require us to speak out.