Democratic Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis is calling on her Republican opponent Greg Abbott to apologize as a backlashing is growing after a top Abbott advisor referred to people with disabilities as, “props.”
The Abbott campaign went insane after Lamar White Jr., a law student who has cerebral palsy, spoke at a press conference in support of Davis. According to the Austin-American Statesman, ‘After horrendous wheelchair attack ad, Wendy Davis uses disabled people as props,’ David Carney, a top Abbott adviser, tweeted about Monday’s news conference.”
While trying to use Greg Abbott’s disability to attack Wendy Davis, Republicans leveled a vicious slur against all Americans with disabilities. Wendy Davis responded by demanding an apology, “Greg Abbott needs to apologize for the disgusting attacks on the disabled community by his top campaign staff. They can criticize me all they want. However, referring to a brave young man with cerebral palsy as a “prop” in order to dismiss his views about Greg Abbott’s hypocrisy of suing a homeowner for a multi-million dollar settlement while denying that same opportunity to rape survivors and paralyzed patients is out-of-bounds.”
Many members of the media on the left and right reacted to the Davis ad with visceral emotional reaction. Disability is still viewed by many as a taboo subject in American culture. The unspoken message that many differently abled Americans understand is that they are to be neither seen nor heard.
Beyond the tweet, Abbott’s campaign and supporters have been trying to discredit Mr. White by claiming that he was not disabled enough to speak in support of Davis. The idea of a ranking scale for individuals with disabilities is as insulting as it oppressive. Individuals such as Greg Abbott can still operate a motor vehicle, but many individuals Cerebral Palsy and other neurological conditions can not, because there is more to disability than physical mobility. Just because a person can stand up or move under their power does not mean that they are less disabled than a person in a wheelchair.
Republicans had the media fooled for a few days, but after the Abbott campaign has chosen to humiliate differently abled Americans, there is a backlash brewing. The media are rethinking their criticism of the ad, and examining Abbott’s record of denying disabled individuals their ADA rights. Republicans couldn’t resist. They had to attack a disabled individual, and now Greg Abbott’s record is under scrutiny.
The Abbott campaign has insulted millions of Americans with their dehumanization of individuals with disabilities. As Attorney General, Abbott has stripped disabled Texans of their rights. As a candidate for governor, Abbott is robbing differently abled individuals and their loved ones of their dignity.