Posted in disability civil rights, Uncategorized

To Die or Not to Die – Response to David Fries’s New York Times Article

In Kenny Fries’s recent NYT column, he described how Hitler targeted people with disabilities as well as Jews for extermination. He was able to do this because he convinced his followers that these lives were not as valuable as others, and that the world would be better off without them.

But Mr. Fries did not stop at the Holocaust – he also wrote about how similar thinking caused the Supreme Court to allow involuntary sterilization of women considered “imbeciles” to keep them from “continuing their kind.” (See my 9/29/17 post)

Mr. Fries then went on to say that while Hitler was demonized and involuntary sterilization is now almost alway illegal, there is a certain kind of thinking that still lingers – the idea that it is socially and economically acceptable to prioritize certain kinds of lives over others. He also wrote that it is this kind of thinking that justifies the calls for cutting Medicaid and irrevocably worsening the lives of many people – especially the elderly, the poor and the disabled.

One of the people Mr. Fries referred to was the Rev. Susan Flanders. Ms. Flanders has since written a letter to the NYT, saying that she believes Mr. Fries inaccurately portrayed her views. “The issue here is whether people can have a quality of life that is meaningful and valuable to them” she wrote, ”…and I would never favor cutting short such a life.”

In the interest of being fair to both sides, I am attaching a copy of her letter below. But I would never try to represent that this issue is as simple as two opposing posts. After all, we are literally talking about life and death here.