Posted in disability civil rights, New York times

NY Times Shines Light on Nazis’ Treatment of People with Disabilities

You really need to check out the New York Times’s series on disability. It is an ongoing collection of essays about disability, written primarily by people with disabilities.
Disability – The New York Times

One of the most recent pieces, written by Kenny Nies, chronicles how it wasn’t just Jews who were targeted for extinction during the Holocaust. People with disabilities were also systematically exterminated.
The Nazis’ First Victims Were the Disabled – The New York Times

Mr. Nies also reminds us that – lest we think this philosophy was limited to Nazi Germany – the United States also has a record of punishing people for their disabilities. In the beginning of the 20th Century there were still “ugly laws” in many states, which made it unlawful for people to present themselves in public if they were too “unsightly.”
The Ugly Laws _ Disability in Public _ Books – NYU Press _ NYU Press

Mr. Neis also mentions that infamous 1927 Supreme Court decision, Buck v. Bell, when Chief Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote, “Three generations of imbeciles are enough.” He was defending the Court’s decision to allow the practice of involuntarily sterilization of women who were deemed too “feeble-minded” to produce more children.

Justice Holmes also wrote, “It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerative offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind.”
The Supreme Court Ruling That Led To 70,000 Forced Sterilizations _ NPR

I would not for a moment equate the ugly laws or this Supreme Court decision to the unspeakable practices of Nazi Germany. But once it becomes acceptable to think of certain kinds of people as less worthy than others, where and how does it stop?

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