Issue #21 – Reflections on Elections

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Reflections on Elections

By Sarah Sander
Written on November 8, 2016

Today is Election Day. The results aren’t in yet. Like most Americans, I wasn’t crazy about the choice of candidates and pretty much voted against one, rather than for the other.
In addition, I would like to break the law and vote a second time; I want to vote somebody down. There’s just one problem; I don’t know who that person is.
This morning, election jokes were abounding. Texts were flying and the jokes were really funny. Most of them were along the lines of birth – ‘Will it be a girl or boy? We’ll know in less than 24 hours’ followed by ‘The whole country will suffer from post-partum depression’ to some other wisecracks. Until….they turned unfunny.
It is no secret that both candidates leave a lot to be desired and people were in a quandary as to who to vote for. Ugly, derogatory adjectives were thrown around loosely when the candidates were discussed. Whether it’s respectful, even if we disagree with their policies and personalities is for a different discussion. But what cannot be overlooked or swallowed is the text that went around stating, ‘Don’t know what gender will ‘get born’ but it will for sure be a Down syndrome.’

I hyper-ventilate even as I type these words, many hours after I heard that crass expression this morning, and once again it was very gleefully repeated to me by a grown woman (is she aware that I have a son with Down syndrome? I wonder…) this afternoon.

Shame on the person who is the creator of this ‘joke’! Shame on a community that texted it around instead of hitting ‘delete,’ and deleting this person from all social circles. Down syndrome is something to joke about? You are still of the belief that Down syndrome is synonymous with ‘meshuga’? Where are you living? In a cave? Aren’t you ashamed of yourself to take a disability that afflicts hundreds of thousands of people worldwide, including your Jewish brethren, bringing much heartache and challenge into our midst, yet acceptance that this is the Will of Hakodosh Baruch Hu,, and you make jokes out of this population?

Boruch Hashem, my family has confidence and pride in our son/sibling and we walk with our heads held high. But for families that don’t feel so comfortable with their special needs child, this message is a kick in the gut. At this junction in time when we are trying so hard to advocate for new parents to keep their babies with Down syndrome home and not to feel stigmatized, a ‘joke’ like this one can be the catalyst for babies to be given up or abandoned. Who can keep their head up in a neighborhood that brutally jokes about its special needs members?

I am so bruised by the insensitivity of my community that I think I will climb into a cave.