Monday, November 16, 2015

Paris: Mourning Us

Photo Description: Black tee shirt with white disability wheelchair logo.
Like everyone else I was shocked, appalled, and frightened when I first heard of the attacks in Paris. Like many others I went immediately to the television to watch the news and, simultaneously, went on-line to augment the television reports. I kept myself up to date as best I could, wanting to know the most relevant information as it became available.

But perhaps the most relevant information, to me, wasn't ever mentioned in a broadcast that I saw on television.I found it in two brief lines in an article made available on line from the the Telegraph:

Miss Wilson, 49, originally from New Orleans, also told how she witnessed the gunmen deliberately targeting concert-goers in wheelchairs. The gunmen hunted down disabled people who were sat in an area specially set aside for wheelchair users.

I have searched and searched and have managed to find no other information about the targeting and murder of disabled people at the Bataclan. Forgive me for finding that fact worrisome. The fate of disabled people during the 9/11 attacks was little discussed, though the implications for the safety of disabled people in multistory buildings is, and continues to be, enormous. And, here again, it seems that the discussion of the specific targeting of a particular minority group goes virtually unnoticed and with little to no comment.

Are our lives worth discussion?

Are our deaths considered equally tragic as those of others without disabilities?

Are there ever going to be an acknowledgement, and mourning for, a group picked out and murdered because of their status as a member of a devalued minority?

Are questions ever going to be asked about the extent and nature of ableism and disphobia?

I'm afraid to answer any of those questions. I'm afraid of what this means in terms of how deeply our lives and our voices are dismissed as irrelevant.

I'm simply, sad.

That's to be expected. People lost their lives.

I'm also scared.

That's to be expected. My community has been attacked.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for that information Dave. My mouth will be running about it here in Florida. Melodie

Anonymous said...

People with disabilities were also disproportionately impacted by the Katrina hurricane because evacuation plans were not designed with their accessibility needs in mind. They were essentially more likely to be abandoned or left behind when other people were leaving the city to sit out the storm somewhere else.

There was also a racial dimension and a class dimension to Katrina in terms of who was impacted the most and the attention they got in the media. Once in a while, the racial dimension might be discussed--though usually the burden has fallen to people of color to start that discussion because white people usually don't. The class dimension? Maybe occasionally, but less often perhaps because many middle class Americans like to pretend that only middle class people experience financial difficulties while poor Americans don't exist. The disability dimension? Practically invisible.

Andrea S.

Anonymous said...


I live in Germany and I am scared. To the mismanagement of the work and cRe of the refugees a lot of people tend to turn politivaly right winged which is ver dangerous for people who do not fit in. Which includes disabled people too. Which includes me.

I am worried , I am scared....


Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt said...

There is SUCH a disconnect between 'able' people and disabled people that the media won't even use this information - which is totally disgusting - to make the world even madder at these sociopaths and psycopaths who enjoy shooting unarmed people.

I am scared - for all of us. We're not worth worrying about when it's every man for himself?

Make a BIG stink about that. Everywhere you can.

Do you have a link for the information?

Anonymous said...

OMG that is appalling.
It's so important that attention is drawn to this.

Anonymous said...

Although I join in the worry of targeting any group (those with disabilities, Christians, sexual groups), I think that putting their death on par and value as every other death is a "good" thing. Not that their death is good, but NOT being categorized is good. It is a tragic loss of life, whether black, white, disabled, male or female - all is tragic. Can it not be a human loss without putting people in categories?

Anonymous said...

To anonymous at 03:20. The problem is, that the terrorists seemed to have targeted disabled people direct. So it is something worth mentioning!

What if they only had shot redheaded people or people with beards?

They targeted disabled people and that makes one think...


Anonymous said...

In response to Julia, I get it. They included the target of disabled people. Maybe because they were sure of a "kill". I guess the point I was trying to make as it wasn't just the disabled people. I was comforted that the fact that they were disabled wasn't the focus of the coverage. They were just people. If the terrorist had just targeted the disabled and left, that would be different. I know, it is a fine line. I think I was assuaged that their tragic end was as tragic (no more or no less) as the others. I am in no way trying to diminish the worry that this was part of the terror, but they didn't just kill people with beards, or redheads or the disabled. Terrible loss here and other places (Beriut).

Dave Hingsburger said...

I appreciate this kind of discussion on my blog. I stay with my contention that the lack of mention of the specific targeting of a minority group is concerning in a variety of different ways. I don't think that the news was treating them just like everyone else, but as people who don't merit noticing. I suspect if they targeted any other minority it would have been noted and discussed and ramifications of the action would have been noted ... and members of that minority would have been given the microphone to react. None of that happened. We aren't like everyone else, we are less then everyone else. IMHO

Ettina Kitten said...

If you only found it mentioned in one news outlet, there's another possibility - that other outlets were uncertain of the accuracy of the statement. Whenever a lot of people witness a crime, there's going to be a bunch of conflicting witness statements, and not all of the statements will be accurate. If only Miss Wilson said she saw them targeting disabled people, and other witnesses didn't think they preferentially targeted any group, it's possible this 'targeting' was only in Miss Wilson's mind. Especially since they shot many non-disabled people as well.

Dave Hingsburger said...

Ettina, it has since been reported by other sources. But you are right, that's why I was desperately looking for another source ... was this true. They quoted an actual person, so I was more likely to believe it, if it had been an anonymous source I would have been less likely. But, as I said, I've seen it now in a variety of places.