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Terrorist Attacks in Paris - A Disability Perspective

  • Published: 2015-11-19 : Author: Thomas C. Weiss : Contact: Disabled World
  • Synopsis: Thomas C. Weiss writes on the recent attacks by terrorists in France from a disability perspective.

Quote: "When I read the non-disabled news, it is with the knowledge that we are more often neglected than included, even when we are involved in the same attacks."

Main Document

The attacks by terrorists in France recently has me wondering just what value governments around the world place on the lives of People with Disabilities. Simply finding statistics related to the numbers of people who experience a form of disability in France has proven to be difficult. The thought that has crossed my mind is, 'Apparently out of sight means out of mind.'

As the news stories began to appear following the attacks in France, I started watching them for any hint of a mention of people with disabilities living in France who have been affected. It seems we are unworthy of mention, despite the fact that many of us are least able to deal with such blatant violence. Instead, priority was not placed on those who need the most help (with or without a form of disability) and has instead been placed into military actions - actions which were taken by the French and other governments within hours of the attacks.

I am not suggesting the response by France has been inadequate where finding remaining terrorists and helping people who were wounded are concerned. What I am suggesting is there is a conscious decision that has been made to omit particular populations such as People with Disabilities from an overall presentation of news. All that seems to matter is presenting government officials, war hawks and more media coverage of the killers than they deserve.

The Numbers of People with Disabilities in France

Perhaps I should not be surprised that People with Disabilities have been left out of news coverage. While France is a great nation, there are many French people who experience forms of disabilities, to include 1,500 children, who live in Belgium because Belgium provides better care. In the nation of France there are approximately 50,000 people with disabilities living in need of better care, yet have remained in France. The nation of France, it seems, likes to export people living with disabilities instead of including them in society.

By comparison, the United States of America has millions of people with disabilities. In America, exporting people with disabilities is not something I have encountered. The failure of the mainstream media to include us in stories about events such as terrorist attacks is constant in my experience. It seems governments simply find other populations, usually able-bodied populations, are much more useful where defining who the enemy is.

IS Does Not Care

Islamic State does not have a single care for people who experience forms of disabilities. Governments in the world today are not much better in too many instances. Who is the villain? The Islamic State is unable to manage even its own non-disabled population, it is so violent that no one who cares about other people in the slightest would ever choose to fight for them. Meanwhile, the governments of France, America and Russia walked right past people with disabilities and went straight for the Islamic State's throat.

I imagine if the Islamic State bombed a mental health hospital or an apartment building with seniors, veterans and people with disabilities residing in it, the news stories associated with such violence would become a news media, 'one day wonder.' In the meantime, Islamic State would most likely murder any people with disabilities through such an attack, leaving family members and friends wounded by not only Islamic State, but their own government and society. The bombing being pursued right now by France, America and Russia may very well end up in the deaths of many civilians; I am left to wonder how many of those civilians are people with forms of disabilities.

Handicap International states, '...we believe that people with disabilities should have equal access to rights, opportunities, and services and be protected from discrimination, abuse, and neglect.' I cannot dismiss the feeling in my heart that people with disabilities in France and other nations have just been dumped through lack of recognition in our own societies. It feels like governments and news media sources have the right to ignore any population that does not appeal to said governments or media sources. In other words, if it does not make a profit or create a benefit, governments and media sources will ignore entire populations in relation to recent events.

Military Money Vs. Money for People with Disabilities

How much money has been spent on military hardware, bombs and activities - just since the attacks in Paris? When it comes to military activities, governments only need a reason to pursue them; a reason supplied by Islamic State. When it comes to ensuring that seniors, people with disabilities and veterans are included in society, it takes an act of Congress to even reach a decision to support us. No COLA, but plenty of bombs; this is the philosophy of the American government. Will France, America and Russia look within their own borders and realize the needs we have as people with disabilities, or will they endlessly justify military action while ignoring vast populations?

"Providing an emergency response to natural disasters or major conflicts is an integral part of our mandate, because the most vulnerable people are often forgotten, and because the foundations of sustainable development, which should fully integrate people with disabilities, are defined in the weeks following a disaster." - Handicap International

Ask yourself this, 'How many articles have I read concerning the actions of Handicap International and other organizations in the wake of the Paris attacks?' Personally, I have read none, which does not mean Handicap International is avoiding its declared duties. What it does mean; however, is governments in the world have left people with disabilities, veterans and seniors several rungs down the ladder where protections, care and inclusion are concerned. I find myself wishing I had an M-16 and body armor.

The mainstream media is negligent where articles concerning people with disabilities is concerned. When I read the non-disabled news, it is with the knowledge that we are more often neglected than included, even when we are involved in the same attacks. The credibility of mainstream media sources is diminished by lack of inclusion.

Islamic State has no justification for its actions, they are brutal and kill without regard. Having left their humanity behind, Islamic State has become a measuring point to compare the actions, or lack of, on the parts of governments related to people with disabilities. So far, governments are rating just above Islamic State in my opinion. Maybe someday governments will recognize the wealth people with disabilities offer and include us in society. As for the mainstream media; ignorance is at times bliss.

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