|Photo Description: Two pictures of Chris Herbert, one on him on the floor wearing a pink tutu and white shorts with a plastic shark set to look like it bit off his leg, one with him standing with his dog.|
Chris Herbert, Facebook post, Dec. 8, 2015:
Getting frustrated by some people expecting racism from me, because I got blown up.
Here it is:
Yes. A Muslim man blew me up, and I lost my leg.
A Muslim man also lost his arm that day wearing a British Uniform.
A Muslim medic was in the helicopter that took me from the field
A Muslim surgeon performed the surgery that saved my life
A Muslim Nurse was part of the team that helped me when I returned to the UK
A Muslim Healthcare Assistant was part of the team that sorted out my day to day needs in rehabilitation when I was learning to walk
A Muslim taxi driver gave me a free ride the first time I went for a beer with my Dad after I came home.
A Muslim doctor offered my Dad comfort and advice in a pub, when he didnt know how to deal with my medicines and side effects.
Contrary to that,
A white brit spat in my girlfriends face for 'fucking a cripple when you could have me [him]'
A White brit pushed my wheelchair away from a lift so he could use it first.
A White brit screamed at my Dad for parking in a disabled bay when I was in the services coming home
(Although, alot of people helped in my recovery! I dont hate white brits either! hahaha)
Point is, fuck off. I know who I dislike, and I know who I dont. I know who I appreciate, and I know who I dont. If you want to hate an entire race of men and women for the actions of a few dickheads feel free, but don't push your views on me, thinking I am an easy target because one douchebag decided it was my day to die.
Blaming all Muslims for the actions of groups like Daeshe and the Taliban, is like blaming all Christians for the actions of the KKK or Westboro Baptist Church.
Get a grip of your lives, hug your family and get back to work.
See, I told you, thoroughly cool and decent guy. The reaction to this post, that I have seen is, rightfully, universally positive. He makes a great case, maybe the best I've read, for seeing people as people and for not succumbing to stereotypes.
But I'd like to focus on the second part of his post, where he describes how some people have responded to his disability. Even the violence of the reaction of the man who spat at his girlfriend and swore at him. To those of us in the disability community, none of that is a surprise. We all have stories about how the non-disabled have reacted to who we are, what we have, and the lives we live.
There is something distressing about how this post is being read. I have looked through a number of articles about this post and while some acknowledge the disability aspect of what he wrote, the do it in a way that makes it inconsequential, as if it's an interesting side note. I've not seen anyone who has stated clearly, that what happened to him as a disabled man is not OK. That people have no right to treat him in that manner.
Let's realize that this guy is a war hero. He went over in the defence of his country to fight for our freedoms and our rights. He comes home wounded from that experience and steps into a new life as someone with a disability and is greeted by violence and aggression and prejudice. This is NOT OK.
For those of us in the disability community who became disabled, rather than being born so, we all know the shock of the sudden change in status. The disability, well, we have to learn to live with that, develop strategies and new ways of doing old things. That's relatively easily sorted in comparison to the social and political aspects of having a disability. No one told me that I would face prejudice like I couldn't imagine.
This post represented a perfect time to get both messages that are contained within. First, what's with the rampant prejudice against people you don't know. Second, what's with the rampant prejudice against people with disabilities.
I would love it if someone simply acknowledged that there IS rampant prejudice. But people don't want to see it ... so they don't.
I think Chris Herbert is a brave man for writing what he wrote. He attempted, as a soldier would, to fight against the rising tide of prejudice against our neighbours, our doctors, our shopkeepers, our accountants who are Muslim. He attempted as well to bring into the discussion how people react to him, now, as 'other'. That he is experiencing the prejudice that he is fighting against - that which is born of ignorance and of hate.
To Chris: I don't know if you will ever read this, but if you do, know that a fat, old dude in a wheelchair in Canada, admires you. I admire your capacity to eschew hatred when it is thrust at you by those who would use you. I admire more how you chose to use your voice as a weapon against intolerance. And I thank you, as a disabled man, for bringing into sharp focus the kinds of prejudice that our community faces.