It was wrong when people called Terri Schiavo a “vegetable,” and it is wrong when Donald Trump Jr. wields the same slur against Senator John Fetterman at CPAC. He said:
I’m the one that’s willing to say this stuff because someone has to because it’s insane. What’s actually going on, right? When I said, like, I don’t know, it’s sort of weird that Pennsylvania managed to elect a vegetable. They criticize me as being ableist. I didn’t know what that was . . . I’d love for John Fetterman to have like, good gainful employment. Maybe he could be like a bag guy at a like a grocery store.”
That rhetoric — even at a red-meat political event — is completely unacceptable and viciously cruel. The sole intent of that dehumanizing epithet is to demean, diminish, and denigrate the moral value of the person against whom it is wielded. As far as I am concerned, it belongs in the same category of unacceptable terminology as the N-word.
Yes, I know that Trump Jr.’s point was that Fetterman might be incapable of performing the work of a United States senator. That’s a legitimate issue, as is the senator’s hiding of his previous episodes of depression during the campaign.
But the matter can be discussed quite thoroughly without slinging slurs at people who have mental challenges and disrespecting people who are cognitively disabled, as his “bag guy at a . . . grocery store” snidery did. We are all equal. The people with special needs who bag our groceries have more class than Trump Jr. ever will.