Greg Abbott’s gubernatorial campaign recently reacted with outrage to an ad from Wendy Davis’s campaign that explained how he was a hypocrite when it came to disabilities. Conservative websites and even some liberal ones like Mother Jones blasted Wendy Davis for the ad, claiming that Greg Abbott’s disability was off-limits for political discussion. This is from Ben Dreyfuss over at Mother Jones:
This ad says to me—and to a lot of other people—that Greg Abbott is unfit to serve because he is handicapped. The Davis campaign may not have intentionally attempted to play into people’s historic prejudice against the disabled, but that’s how the ad reads to me. Abbott shouldn’t be off limits to criticism because he’s in a wheelchair. And this may just have been an inartful attempt at a trenchant criticism. But there are ways to make a point and ways not to make a point and this ad is not the way to make that point. (Source)
I would normally agree that a person’s disability should never be a political issue, but Mother Jones and others have it all wrong. If you are in a wheelchair and make a political issue of it such as Greg Abbott has, then pointing out that he uses the disability to his advantage while denying other people with disabilities their rights is certainly fair game.
Today, my friend Lamar White, Jr., who owns and writes for cenlamar.com, appeared along with other supporters with disabilities at an event held by Wendy Davis in which she defended the ad that the Abbott campaign and conservative bloggers were so hypocritically angry about.
“In 1984, Greg Abbott sought out and received justice following a horrible injury, rightly so…receiving millions of dollars. And I’m glad, he deserved justice for the terrible tragedy that he endured,” Davis said at her Fort Worth, Texas, field office. “But then he turned around and built his career working to deny the very same justice that he received to his fellow Texans rightly seeking it for themselves.”
She added, “Greg Abbott got his justice. Why doesn’t he believe that a rape survivor or a person with a disability or a victim paralyzed forever…should get justice too? What makes Greg Abbott think it’s okay to deny them, his fellow Texans, the justice that he rightly went to court to receive?” (Source)
One website, The Washington Free Beacon, then proceeded to run a story from Andrew Stiles which claimed a Wendy Davis staffer disrespectfully dragged a disabled supporter in a chair away from the podium once he was done speaking. Others referred to the disabled speakers as “props” in their attempt to discredit these supporters and the Wendy Davis campaign. Remember, conservatives like Greg Abbott as well as a lot of pundits are always complaining about political correctness, but then leap all over it to express outrage when it’s politically convenient. Here’s the video of the incident in question, which was uploaded by an Abbott supporter.
Seems maybe a little inappropriate, right? The conservative website Townhall.com jumped all over it, and called the speaker a “prop” in this story (now removed by them) which was then later retweeted by Abbott’s chief political strategist, Dave Carney.
What they didn’t know is that the speaker was none other than my friend Lamar who has cerebral palsy, and I reached out to him for his comments on the incident. Here’s what he had to say:
“The only people attacking disabled people are Greg Abbott’s campaign and his allies in the right-wing media.”
He also spoke with Lauren McGaughy from the Houston Chronicle:
“I’m clumsy, and I fall sometimes. I didn’t want to fall on camera, so I personally asked them to slide me over in the chair,” said Lamar White, Jr., who has cerebral palsy. “I asked them to move me. Because I was worried that if I stood up, I’d fall down on camera.”
White, a law student in his final year at Southern Methodist University’s Dedman School, had just finished detailing why he supports Democratic nominee for governor Sen. Wendy Davis when a campaign staffer slid the chair out of the way of the microphone so the next attendee could speak. (Source)
Greg Abbott is indeed a hypocrite as the ad pointed out, and for members of his campaign staff to retweet stories that call disabled supporters of Wendy Davis “props” is further proof of that. I urge Greg Abbott and his staffers to issue the apologies that Lamar White, Jr has asked for, but I’m not going to hold my breath on this one.
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