people complain about people “faking disabilities”
you know what happens way more often than people faking disabilities?
people pretending not to be disabled so they won’t get treated like shit
Video transcript, in case you want to just read through and skip to the part where I dump ice on my head. Which is pretty wimpy, because I don’t have a bucket and thus used a bowl. I would love it if people would share this, tweet it, etc.:
My name is Tracey, and today I’m doing a different kind of ice bucket challenge. I want to talk about violence against Autistic people. I am not Autistic myself; I have a sister with Autism. By now you’ve all heard about the incident in Ohio where an Autistic teenager, who thought he was going to participate in the ALS ice bucket challenge with his classmates, instead had urine and feces dumped over his head.
I’m not going to use the word ‘bullying’ or ‘prank,’ here, because I think it is trivializing to say something like ‘prank’ when we’re talking about genuine cruelty. I think this was an assault meant to degrade and humiliate a person. And I’m not going to link to the video that went viral, because I know the boy tried to hide the video from his mother after his attackers put it on Instagram, because he was embarrassed. And although I don’t believe victims of violence have anything to be ashamed of, I still think he deserved to have a say in whether more people saw that video. And so I think it’s sort of adding insult to injury that instead of being taken down, it went viral, and now everyone is tweeting and sharing this video that was very humiliating and that the victim didn’t want out there. So I didn’t watch it, and I’m not going to share the video or link to any article that does.
A lot of people are using this to raise awareness about Autism and what they’re calling bullying. Drew Carey and some other celebrities have offered thousands of dollars as a reward to find the perpetrators, and if the police find them without a reward, which it looks like they will, he plans on donating that money to Autism Speaks. And I’m making this video to challenge him and everyone else to please donate their money somewhere else.
Autism Speaks doesn’t have any Autistic people in positions of leadership. They actually lobbied against a proposed amendment to the Autism Cares Act that would basically mandate greater representation of Autistic people in the groups making decisions that impact their lives.
Only 4% of Autism Speaks’ budget goes toward improving the lives of people with Autism and their families. Most of their budget goes to research, and most of their research money is spent on trying to prevent and cure Autism, not on learning how to enhance the quality of life for people living with Autism.
Autism Speaks uses language that dehumanizes Autistic people. They compare Autism unfavorably to pediatric AIDS, cancer, and diabetes, and basically speak as though if you have a child with Autism, that kid may as well be already dead.
That is the kind of language that justifies violence. In fact, Autism Speaks once did a TV spot, called Everyday Autism, where one of their board members talked about how she used to want to drive off a cliff with her daughter in the car. She said this right in front of her daughter, and the takeaway was supposed to be that this was understandable because having a child with Autism is so difficult. I haven’t asked my parents, but I have never, ever wanted to kill my sister. But parents often DO kill their disabled and Autistic children, and the rhetoric of Autism Speaks, more often than not, is the rhetoric of parents who kill their children; of hopelessness, of burden, of Autism being a plague that needs to be wiped out.
Autism Speaks has given table space at their fundraisers to the Judge Rotenberg Center a school that is under investigation for using painful electric shocks on students, a practice that has been defined by the U.N. As an act of torture. This kind of institutional abuse of disabled students is very common, and Autism Speaks has never really made this a priority. Institutional violence and caretaker violence represents as great a danger to Autistic people as peer violence does, and they come from the same place – the dehumanizing of disabled people, which Autism Speaks participates in.
So as you can see, the legacy of Autism Speaks has not really been a legacy of fighting violence against people with Autism. It’s been a legacy of normalizing violence, enabling violence, and keeping people with Autism from accessing the sort of power and agency that would let them effectively fight violence. Autistic self-advocates have tried to reform Autism Speaks for years, but Autism Speaks has ignored their critiques while continuing to take credit for their work. When you support Autism Speaks, you support silencing Autistic people, and you support the myth that the existence of Autistic people victimizes those around them. That is the language of violence.
People in Bay Village, Ohio are doing some amazing things rallying around this boy who was attacked, and they’re having some great conversations about respect and acceptance of people with cognitive disabilities. It would be such a waste if that awesome energy and that desire to foster respect and acceptance just wound up funneling money into Autism Speaks because it happens to be the biggest Autism nonprofit, when that money could so such amazing things elsewhere.
I have made a donation of forty dollars – and my boyfriend has matched it – to the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network. The Autistic Self-Advocacy Network has a mission of fostering acceptance and creating opportunities for Autistic people. They organize programming at colleges and universities to make campuses more accessible and inclusive. They organize paid internships to give Autistic people job opportunities, they work to give Autistic people more of a role in shaping legislation and policy that impacts them, like the Autism Cares Act that I mentioned earlier, and most importantly, they are active in combating violence and abuse against people with disabilities.
Fighting violence against disabled people and the attitudes that normalize and enable that violence, has always been a priority of the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network, and it will always be a priority of mine. I challenge Drew Carey, Bay Village Ohio, and anyone who shares that priority to give their money to the Autism Self-Advocacy Network or a number of other organizations, which I have linked below, instead of Autism Speaks. None of these organizations are even half as well-funded as Autism Speaks, and ten thousand dollars would be a huge deal to any of them.
And because I feel so strongly about this, I’m going to dump ice on my head now.
About Autism Speaks:
Good alternative organizations:
Autism Women’s Network http://autismwomensnetwork.org/
Autism National Committee http://www.autcom.org/
ADAPT (disability rights organization) http://www.adapt.org/
Practically everyone thinks they’re doing either the right thing, or the only possible thing, at the time.
There are major exceptions but I’m not talking about them here.
This goes back to how we all tell ourselves stories about the world. And in most of our stories, we are the good guy.
I sometimes get into other people’s heads. I don’t know how and I don’t know what I’m doing and I rarely intend to do it. They don’t have to be currently alive. I just have to know a little thing that moves me in the right direction any for a split second I am not me anymore.
There are all kinds of things in there that are very different from me and from each other. People with emotional and intellectual landscapes that, while everyone contains the same component parts, are so foreign it’s amazing to imagine they exist.
But everyone this has happened with, they all thought they were doing the right thing at the time. And if part of them knew it was wrong it was heavily buried under stories. Sometimes deliberately, sometimes not so deliberately.
At some point - I actually remember the exact moment but prefer to keep it private - I realized that whatever knowledge this ability gives me, it does not, not directly, give me knowledge of right and wrong.
Because on any given issue, including issues that are quite dear to me, I’ve seen into the viewpoints of people on all sides of them. Not just the words and ideas, but the memories and emotions and live experiences that lead each person to be certain they are right. And from the point of view of inside that person, every single person is incredibly persuasive. None more than the next.
And that is what is the same in everyone who has a sense of right and wrong at all. We all have experiences and thoughts and emotions that tell us what we think is right. We all(*) have stories we tell ourselves, that we get so caught up in that we mistake them for reality. And all these things combine to give us an idea of what we think is the right thing to do. Our to justify our own actions to ourselves.
So in a less direct way, this ability does tell me something about right and wrong. It tells me I am as untrustworthy as any other person to figure it all out on my own. I mean most people agree on the basics, but when it comes to the complicated execution in real life situations? We all have different ideas and many times those ideas serve our own biases, stories, specific life experiences, and hidden motivations.
Sometimes what I see scares me. I’ve seen into the mind of someone who got fired up with righteous anger and a lifetime of injustice and played with some really dangerous symbolism, started a movement… People died. He’s not famous. Few people outside the movement know his name. But as I was learning about it that thing happened… And suddenly for seconds at a time I felt like I was him or some of the people around him and I got caught up in the emotion of the moment and I wanted what they wanted and then… I was on the outside again, myself again, knowing the outcomes of their actions, that may have been avoided if they were not so sure they were right.
That kind of thing gives me whiplash.
I know, I’m autistic, I’m not supposed to do this, but from what I’ve seen, intense involuntary empathy, of many kinds including this, is a feature of being autistic for many of us, no matter what the experts say. I can’t voluntarily put myself in someone’s mindset, but I often find myself there.
And in the aftermath of the attempted murder of Issy Stapleton, I find myself really really upset at all these autism parents who call for more empathy any time someone says that murder is absolutely wrong and that judging or condemning it is a terrible thing.
Luckily, I have not seen inside the mind of Kelli Stapleton. I’ve seen the edges, and the storms, and I don’t want to see it from her perspective. I would want to wash my brain out afterwards.
Some of her supporters are right about one thing, I think, but totally wrong in the conclusions they draw from it (and probably wrong in the ways they come at it too, but that’s a finer distinction).
It is, I think, actually true that put in the right position, most people would find it possible to kill and to feel right about killing even when that killing is a hundred prevent wrong.
The fact that I could see myself getting mind warped enough to kill, does not mean that the right thing for me to do is sit around at every murder extending sympathy for the murderer.
Because… How do I even try to explain this? Killing another human being is something hardwired into most human beings as a really bad idea. Most people have a really thick barrier between themselves and murder. To become a murderer, they have to erode that barrier down more and more and more and more until they can do it. (And once it’s done, they have an incredibly hard time putting it back up. One murderer likened it to having a wild animal loose in your brain that you have to restrain.)
Lots of things can erode that barrier. Some things are so powerful they can smash it down all at once. Other things pick at it piece by piece until they finally chip through to that other side.
But that means there are people whose barrier to murder has been chipped down to an inch thick. And that means that anything that chips down that barrier even an inch is a danger to their potential victims.
Some things that I know erode that barrier:
* Seeing murder of a certain class of person as more understandable or acceptable. That includes disabled people.
* Saying that murders occur because parents of disabled children don’t get services. There’s a proven correlation between media coverage of this sort and an increase in murders.
* Public sympathy with murderers of a certain sort, such as parents who murder disabled children.
* Saying it’s understandable for parents of disabled children (or of disabled violent children, or of disabled children in certain specific situations) to murder those children.
* Dehumanizing the victims
Every single one of those things erodes the wall between being a potential murderer and a real murderer. Every single one of those things is a serious threat to disabled children. People who say any of those things are, knowingly or not, endangering disabled children. And adults. But children are usually more threatened.
And if empathy with most killers is your thing? You would not be so hell bent on destroying those walls in their heads. Because they will have to live the rest of their lives with the consequences of having killed. And those consequences are not pretty. Shattering that wall shatters important parts of the self. Very few people can recover.
That’s of course nothing compared to the devastation that happens to the victim. But it’s still devastation. And anyone who had an ounce of actual empathy (including actual understanding) for people who have killed people, would not be focused on making that person’s actions seem understandable. Because that is just setting up the same tragedy the murderer and their victim and their families just went through. Eroding a wall. Anyone with an ounce of understanding of how that wall gets eroded, would back off in horror at the very thought of eroding it in another.
Many of the people calling for empathy are not actually people understanding what happened or how it happened. They are people whose walls are partially eroded themselves, who can see that if that (few feet, few inches, few millimeters?) of wall were gone in themselves, they would have done the same thing. And since they can’t see themselves as bad people, they say “she is not a bad person”. And in doing so they erode more and more people’s walls. I still remember the two or three murders that happened the WEEK “Autism Every Day” came out, don’t tell me that’s coincidence.
Saying that murder is wrong and inexcusable. Saying that disabled children are not acceptable targets. Saying that extending this twisted brand of understanding to child murderers is dangerous. THESE ARE WAYS WE KEEP WALLS AGAINST MURDER INTACT AND BUILD UP WALLS THAT HAVE BEEN DAMAGED. Condemning murder builds up walls in ourselves and in other people. We need those walls to keep those on the edge from stepping over the edge. .
Most of what people are calling empathy here is just self-pity. And self-pity erodes those walls and warps the conscience to believe the feelings of would-be murderers are more important than the existence of their victims.
True empathy for either murderer or victim would have you doing anything you could, anything at all, to prevent anyone’s internal walls against murder from eroding any further. Knowing that most of us are capable of murder should only strengthen that desire, not weaken it. It’s the near universal desire to believe oneself a good person no matter what one does, that gets people so twisted up that they would erode those walls further rather than admit, “we are all capable of terrible things, and that means we need to strengthen these walls to prevent them happening, whether it’s murder or something else”.
And if you’ve never seen the horror and betrayal from the POV of the victims… Don’t tell me I lack empathy.
I love you Issy.
(*) Except a tiny number of people who have managed to destroy stories, and the mechanisms that create them, forever. They are rare, I am not one of them, and I have had only the tiniest glimpse into the mind of any of them, which stunned me to the core. Because I could see in one tiny instant the enormity of the difference between him at that point in his life and me at this point in my life. And that was… As if my mind is full of layers upon layers of machinery, never noticed in full until I saw its absence in someone else. And when I saw that difference, I saw why people didn’t believe him when he tried to talk about it. But people like him are still fallible in all kinds of ways that don’t have to do with stories.
Free speech includes the right to set editorial policy
Freedom of speech and freedom of the press are about having the right to choose what you say. Part of this means being able to say what you want to say; an equally important part of free speech means the right to refrain from saying things you *don’t* want to say.
And, in a broader sense, this includes editorial policy. If you publish a magazine, you make choices about which articles to include and which articles to reject. That’s an essential part of what a magazine is. A magazine has a certain topic and point of view, expressed as much in what it does not publish as what it does.
- Socialist journals do not publish articles in defense of capitalism
- Medical journals do not publish articles that have not passed peer review
- Jewish community newsletters do not publish arguments for conversion to Christianity
The fact that these types of publications only publish things that support their mission and policy is not a violation of free speech; it is an *expression* of free speech.
This is as true on the internet as it is in print media.
Deciding what to put on your website, and what *not* to put on your website, is part of how you exercise your free speech. That includes things like:
- Posting about things you want to post about
- Not posting about things you don’t want to post about
- Responding to responses to your writing that you want to engage with
- Not engaging with responses you prefer not to respond to
- Making decision about whether you want to have comments, and if so, which kind of comments to allow
No matter what choices you make about these things on the internet, someone will accuse you of censorship and insist that their right to free speech means that you have an obligation to publish their opinions. It doesn’t. Their right to freedom of speech is about what *they* say; it does not give them the right to make *you* say anything, or to publish them, or to pay attention to them.
Free speech means you have the right to say what you want to say, and to refrain from saying things that you do not want to say.
Anonymous said: I feel so useless sitting here. What can I do to help Ferguson??
national moment of silence 2014 (for victims of police brutality)
share the following:
"no one can love you until you love yourself"
that is complete bullshit
don’t let anyone tell you that you don’t deserve love from other people because you struggle with loving yourself
Official Twitterbomb at Washington Post
I started tweeting yesterday and I’d like everyone to start tweeting with me at the Washington Post (@WashingtonPost) over their article (tw at link: ableism, violence, seclusion, abuse) “Coping with adult children’s autism, parents may face ‘least bad’ decisions.”
In addition to @WashingtonPost, we will be tweeting at:
Executive Editor Martin Baron: @PostBaron
the Health Section of the Post: @PostHealthSci
the Local section, where the article was published: @postlocal
the journalist who wrote the article’s professional account, Dan Morse: @morsedan
I wrote a post (tw at link, ableism, violence, seclusion, abuse), “Complicit Narratives,” concerning the extremely troublesome aspects of the article, which sympathizes more with abusers than the victims, if you need more information.
We will tweet today and tomorrow using the hashtag #WPComplicit
Here are example tweets I have done so far, without the hashtag:
Tip: add a period “.” before the @ so your followers can see the tweets!
Queerability Statement About Jane Doe in Connecticut
Queerability, a leading LGBTQ and disability rights advocacy organization run by and for LGBTQ people with disabilities, expresses our profound concern about the Jane Doe case in Connecticut. Jane Doe is a transgender teenage girl with a psychiatric disability who has been moved from a psychiatric treatment facility to a juvenile detention center for boys in solitary confinement without trial due to violent behavior. The forced institutionalization of Jane Doe is incongruent with the Olmstead vs. L.C decision.
We urge the Department of Justice to take action and conduct an investigation. We also call on other LGBTQ and disability rights advocacy organizations to speak out on this critical issue.
You are not REQUIRED to be 100% helpful 100% of the time.
It’s perfectly okay to periodically want to complain about something that is frustrating you.
It’s perfectly okay to not be the one who does the solutions- sometimes just talking about it to someone who does is a big help.
it’s perfectly okay to be at the point where you don’t WANT to or are not ready for the problem solving process to begin.
It’s perfectly okay to be in the middle of working on a big issue and to turn to people also dealing with the issue in their lives to talk about the issue itself without having to deal with solutions.
It’s perfectly okay to not be working on the solution 24/7, and to need time to just FEEL about an issue.
Indeed when you are working on a long term issue, issues with no quick or easy answer, issues that are metaphorically entirely uphill battles, issues that might not even be solved in your lifetime sometimes? It is essential to be able to find other people struggling with those issues so you can sit around and talk about it, complain about it, FEEL about it, without it being itself work or a burden.
Sure you might hear something or have an ah ha moment during those sessions, but that is not the value of it- the value is having a vent and having some community, if only temporary or only for that issue, to fall back on with those feelings.
Not every complaint needs to be a work session.
Laws against Romani people in America
For the person yesterday saying they find it hard to believe that there actually are laws against the Romani people in the United States. These are only a few, some of which are still in effect, the one from New Jersey was only repealed in ‘98.
gypsies … for each county … shall be jointly and severally liablewith his or her associates [to a fine of] two thousand dollars (State Code of Mississippi, Section 27-17-191).
The governing body may make, amend, repeal and enforce ordinances to license and regulate … gypsies (New Jersey Statutes, 40:52-1).
After the passage of this act, it shall be unlawful for any … gypsies … to … settle within the limits of any county of this state [without having first obtained a yearly license to do so] (Pennsylvania Statutes, Section 11810).
Any person may demand of any … gypsies that they shall produce or show their license issued within such county, and if they shall refuse to do so … he shall seize all the property in the possession of such [Gypsies] (Pennsylvania Statutes, Section 11803).
Gypsies [in the State of Maryland] must pay jurisdictions a license fee of $1000 before settling or doing business. When any gypsy is arrested, all his property and all the property of members of any group with which he may be traveling, can be confiscated and sold to pay any fine a court may levy against the arrested gypsy. Sheriffs are paid a $10 bounty for any gypsy they arrest who pays the $1000 fee after he is arrested (Logan, 1976).
Whenever … gypsies shall be located within any municipality … the county department of health or joint county department of health shall have power … to order such [Gypsies … ] to leave said municipality within the time specified (Pennsylvania Title 53: Municipal and Quasi-Municipal Corporations, Chapter xvii, Section 3701).
It is illegal in Pennsylvania to be a Gypsy without a license … Any Gypsy who insists on being what he was born - a Gypsy - without a license, is liable to up to $100 fine and 30 days in jail. A constable may confiscate and sell a convicted Gypsy’s possessions to satisfy the sentence … any person may demand to see a Gypsy’s license. If the Gypsy cannot produce a license, the person may turn the Gypsy in to any convenient justice of the peace (Smart, 1969).
Upon each company of … Gypsies, engaged in trading or selling merchandise or livestock of any kind, or clairvoyant, or persons engaged in fortunetelling, phrenology, or palmistry, $250 [is] to be collected … [from those who] live in tents or travel in covered wagons and automobiles, and who may be a resident of some country or who reside without the State, and who are commonly called traveling horse traders and Gypsies (Georgia Acts and Resolutions, 1927, Part I, Title II, Section 56, p.3).
Texas law refers to “Prostitutes, Gypsies and vagabonds” in the same breath, and charges the Romany people $500 to live there (Bernardo, 1981:108).
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Indiana, that it shall be unlawful for any band of Gypsies … to camp in tent, wagon or otherwise, on any public highway in this state, or lands adjacent thereto … Any person or persons violating the provisions of this Act shall be deemed guilty … and upon conviction shall be fined not exceeding twenty-five dollars or imprisoned in the county jail not exceeding thirty days, or both (State of Indiana Statutory Regulations, Section I). “This statutory law has been used so often against the Gypsies in that state, that Indiana has not been visited by Gypsies for a long time” (Marchbin, 1939:152).
So, there you go.
In case you were wondering: state-supported antiziganism isn’t just limited to Europe.
"When I was admitted to a hospital for surgery, the admitting clerk asked me to sign a Do Not Resuscitate order. I asked what would happen if, having signed it, I stopped breathing because of a bad reaction to anesthesia.
“‘CPR would not take place,’ she replied. I did not sign the order. A few hours after surgery, still delirious from the anesthesia and post-surgical demerol, I had to fight off a social worker who wanted to force feed me a DNR. I mustered my strength and screamed, ‘I’m thirty years old. I don’t want to die!’”"
— Joe Ehman (via madeofpatterns)
From the tags:
"#I have heard nurses joke about effective ways to get people to sign DNRs"
I have read a book by a nurse who talks about ways that nurses manipulate people into signing DNRs, DNIs, and similar orders. For instance, when talking about defibrillator paddles, they’ll exaggeratedly act out what being shocked looks like, to scare the patients’ families into saying they don’t want that. This nurse said that every ICU nurse he knew had a separate way to force or coerce people into signing these orders, and that they look down on people who “want everything done” as just not understanding what “everything” entails.
I’ve gotten that response myself, when I say I want everything done I get instant disdain and get treated like an idiot.
My G-d, this is all kinds of eff-ed up! Nobody ought to be trying to force people to sign DNRs! That’s a *very* personal decision and absolutely no one ought to be bringing it up with *anyone*. If someone wants a DNR, they’ll *ask* for one. That’s what I did. It was *my* choice and no one ever brought it up with me. That’s the way it ought to be. No one ought to ever be pressured into signing away their right to live! Ever!
How to Criticize Israel Without Being Anti-Semitic
If you’ve spent any time discussing or reading about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I guarantee you’ve heard some variation of this statement:
OMG, Jews think any criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic!
In the interests of this post, I’m going to assume that the people who express such sentiments are acting in good faith and really don’t mean to cause pain to or problems for Diaspora Jewry. For those good-faith people, I present some guidelines for staying on the good side of that admittedly murky line, along with the reasoning why the actions I list are problematic. (And bad-faith people, you can no longer plead ignorance if you engage in any of these no-nos. Consider yourselves warned.) In no particular order:
- Don’t use the terms “bloodthirsty,” “lust for Palestinian blood,” or similar. Historically, Jews have been massacred in the belief that we use the blood of non-Jews (particularly of children) in our religious rituals. This belief still persists in large portions of the Arab world (largely because white Europeans deliberately spread the belief among Arabs) and even in parts of the Western world. Murderous, inhumane, cruel, vicious—fine. But blood…just don’t go there. Depicting Israel/Israelis/Israeli leaders eating children is also a no-no, for the same reason.
- Don’t use crucifixion imagery. Another huge, driving motivation behind anti-Semitism historically has been the belief that the Jews, rather than the Romans, crucified Jesus. As in #1, this belief still persists. There are plenty of other ways to depict suffering that don’t call back to ancient libels.
- Don’t demand that Jews publicly repudiate the actions of settlers and extremists. People who make this demand are assuming that Jews are terrible people or undeserving of being heard out unless they “prove” themselves acceptable by non-Jews’ standards. (It’s not okay to demand Palestinians publicly repudiate the actions of Hamas in order to be accepted/trusted, either.)
- Don’t say “the Jews” when you mean Israel. I think this should be pretty clear. The people in power in Israel are Jews, but not all Jews are Israelis (let alone Israeli leaders).
- Don’t say “Zionists” when you mean Israel. Zionism is no more a dirty word than feminism. It is simply the belief that the Jews should have a country in part of their ancestral homeland where they can take refuge from the anti-Semitism and persecution they face everywhere else. It does not mean a belief that Jews have a right to grab land from others, a belief that Jews are superior to non-Jews, or any other such tripe, any more than feminism means hating men. Unless you believe that Israel should entirely cease to exist, you are yourself Zionist. Furthermore, using “Zionists” in place of “Israelis” is inaccurate and harmful. The word “Zionists” includes Diasporan Jews as well (most of whom support a two-state solution and pretty much none of whom have any influence on Israel’s policies) and is used to justify anti-Semitic attacks outside Israel (i.e., they brought it on themselves by being Zionists). And many of the Jews IN Israel who are most violent against Palestinians are actually anti-Zionist—they believe that the modern state of Israel is an offense against God because it isn’t governed by halakha (traditional Jewish religious law). Be careful with the labels you use.
- Don’t call Jews you agree with “the good Jews.” Imposing your values on another group is not okay. Tokenizing is not okay. Appointing yourself the judge of what other groups can or should believe is not okay.
- Don’t use your Jewish friends or Jews who agree with you as shields. (AKA, “I can’t be anti-Semitic, I have Jewish friends!” or “Well, Jew X agrees with me, so you’re wrong.”) Again, this behavior is tokenizing and essentially amounts to you as a non-Jew appointing yourself arbiter over what Jews can/should feel or believe. You don’t get to do that.
- Don’t claim that Jews are ethnically European. Jews come in many colors—white is only one. Besides, the fact that many of us have some genetic mixing with the peoples who tried to force us to assimilate (be they German, Indian, Ethiopian, Italian…) doesn’t change the fact that all our common ancestral roots go back to Israel.
- Don’t claim that Jews “aren’t the TRUE/REAL Jews.” Enough said.
- Don’t claim that Jews have no real historical connection to Israel/the Temple Mount. Archaeology and the historical record both establish that this is false.
- Don’t accuse Diasporan Jews of dual loyalties or treason. This is another charge that historically has been used to justify persecution and murder of Jews. Having a connection to our ancestral homeland is natural. Having a connection to our co-religionists who live there is natural. It is no more treasonous for a Jew to consider the well-being of Israel when casting a vote than for a Muslim to consider the well-being of Islamic countries when voting. (Tangent: fuck drone strikes. End tangent.)
- Don’t claim that the Jews control the media/banks/country that isn’t Israel. Yet another historical anti-Semitic claim is that Jews as a group intend to control the world and try to achieve this aim through shadowy, sinister channels. There are many prominent Jews in the media and in the banking industry, yes, but they aren’t engaged in any kind of organized conspiracy to take over those industries, they simply work in those industries. The phrase “the Jews control” should never be heard in a debate/discussion of Israel.
- Don’t depict the Magen David (Star of David) as an equivalent to the Nazi swastika. The Magen David represents all Jews—not just Israelis, not just people who are violent against Palestinians, ALL JEWS. When you do this, you are painting all Jews as violent, genocidal racists. DON’T.
- Don’t use the Holocaust/Nazism/Hitler as a rhetorical prop. The Jews who were murdered didn’t set foot in what was then Palestine, let alone take part in Israeli politics or policies. It is wrong and appropriative to try to use their deaths to score political points. Genocide, racism, occupation, murder, extermination—go ahead and use those terms, but leave the Holocaust out of it.
- In visual depictions (i.e., political cartoons and such), don’t depict Israel/Israelis as Jewish stereotypes. Don’t show them in Chassidic, black-hat garb. Don’t show them with exaggerated noses or frizzled red hair or payus (earlocks). Don’t show them with horns or depict them as the Devil. Don’t show them cackling over/hoarding money. Don’t show them drinking blood or eating children (see #1). Don’t show them raping non-Jewish women. The Nazis didn’t invent the tropes they used in their propaganda—all of these have been anti-Semitic tropes going back centuries. (The red hair trope, for instance, goes back to early depictions of Judas Iscariot as a redhead, and the horns trope stems from the belief that Jews are the Devil’s children, sent to destroy the world as best we can for our “father.”)
- Don’t use the phrase “the chosen people” to deride or as proof of Jewish racism. When Jews say we are the chosen people, we don’t mean that we are biologically superior to others or that God loves us more than other groups. Judaism in fact teaches that everyone is capable of being a righteous, Godly person, that Jews have obligations to be ethical and decent to “the stranger in our midst,” and that non-Jews don’t get sent to some kind of damnation for believing in another faith. When we say we’re the chosen people, we mean that, according to our faith, God gave us extra responsibilities and codes of behavior that other groups aren’t burdened with, in the form of the Torah. That’s all it means.
- Don’t claim that anti-Semitism is eradicated or negligible. It isn’t. In fact, according to international watchdog groups, it’s sharply on the rise. (Which sadly isn’t surprising—anti-Semitism historically surges during economic downturns, thanks to the belief that Jews control the banks.) This sort of statement is extremely dismissive and accuses us of lying about our own experiences.
- Don’t say that since Palestinians are Semites, Jews/Israelis are anti-Semitic, too. You do not get to redefine the oppressions of others, nor do you get to police how they refer to that oppression. This also often ties into #8. Don’t do it. Anti-Semitism has exclusively meant anti-Jewish bigotry for a good century plus now. Coin your own word for anti-Palestinian oppression, or just call it what it is: racism mixed with Islamophobia.
- Don’t blow off Jews telling you that what you’re saying is anti-Semitic with some variant of the statement at the top of this post. Not all anti-Israel speech is anti-Semitic (a lot of it is valid, much-deserved criticism), but some certainly is. Actually give the accusation your consideration and hear the accuser out. If they fail to convince you, that’s fine. But at least hear them out (without talking over them) before you decide that.
I’m sure this isn’t a comprehensive list, but it covers all the hard-and-fast rules I can think of. (I welcome input for improving it.)
But wait! Why should I care about any of this? I’m standing up for people who are suffering!
You should care because nonsense like the above makes Jews sympathetic to the Palestinian plight wary and afraid of joining your cause. You should care because, unfortunately, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has correlated to an uptick in anti-Semitic attacks around the world, attacks on Jews who have no say in Israeli politics, and this kind of behavior merely aggravates that, whether you intend it to or not.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a real minefield in that it’s a clash between oppressed people of color and an ethnoreligious group that is dominant in Israel but marginalized and brutalized elsewhere (often nowadays on the exact grounds that they share ethnoreligious ties with the people of Israel), so it’s damned hard to toe the line of being socially aware and sensitive to both groups. I get that. But I think it is possible to toe that line, and I hope this post helps with that. (And if a Palestinian makes a similar list of problematic arguments they hear targeted at them, I’d be happy to reblog it, too.)
So, TL;DR version:
- Do go ahead and criticize Israel.
- Don’t use anti-Semitic stereotypes or tropes.
- Don’t use overly expansive language that covers Jews as a whole and not just Israel.
- Don’t use lies to boost your claims.
- Do engage Jews in conversation on the issues of Israel and of anti-Semitism, rather than simply shutting them down for disagreeing.
- Do try to be sensitive to the fact that, fair or not, many people take verbal or violent revenge for the actions of Israelis on Diasporan Jews, and Diasporan Jews are understandably frightened and upset by this.
May there be peace in our days.
Don’t teach kids that their body is wrong
Something that can happen in therapy for disabled kids is:
People hold out hope that the kid won’t be disabled anymore, when they grow up.
So they push the kid as hard as possible in childhood, and tell them (often without saying this explicitly) that if they just work hard, their body won’t be wrong anymore.
This doesn’t work.
People who are disabled as children are usually still disabled as adults. Even if the therapy helped them. Even if they gained new physical abilities. Even if they learned things from it they wouldn’t have learned without it.
Even if they learn to walk. Even if they learn to talk. No matter what other skills they acquire. Their body is probably going to stay very different from most other people’s bodies, and far from the cultural norm.
And… part of living well as a person with a disability is accepting the body and the brain that you have, and working with it rather than against it.
Because you can’t live in an imaginary body; you can’t live in an abstraction. You have to live your own life, as you actually are. And sometimes that involves medical treatment, sometimes it involves equipment, sometimes it involves therapy - but always, it involves reality. You can’t willpower yourself into being someone else.
Disabled kids tend to get taught the opposite message, because childhood therapy is usually cure-oriented even for conditions that aren’t anywhere close to curable. It’s about normalization, much more than functioning well.
Then they go through all manner of hell unlearning this once they’re old enough that everyone gives up on pretending that a cure is going to happen.
If you’re responsible to or for kids with disabilities, do what you can to protect them from this. Make sure they aren’t being pushed to hang their self-worth on accomplishing things that are physically impossible or implausible. Help them to understand hat their bodies aren’t wrong. Teach them that they already have lives worth living.