Thursday, October 26, 2006

376: How to Oppress Deaf People, Part II

Please read Allison Kaftan's excellent diary today on DeafDc. I want to echo her sentiments, and add some of mine:

Five days ago 4,000 people marched on the Capitol in support of this protest. There has to be some kind of ending soon.

We all are experiencing intense pain at the length and breadth of this protest. I cannot get past one thing. The Administration used a bulldozer on their own students. They have no respect for themselves, the institution, the population they serve, or the job they perform. They have broken any oaths they have made to the University and to its community. I cannot repeat it enough:

You do not use a bulldozer on your own people.

You use a bulldozer on lumber, wood, inanimate objects. Things you do not respect or care about. We are lucky the damage was minimal.

I understand they had to clear the gate. I spoke with MSSD people. I know the students had internships that day. They wanted to get out and go to their gigs, or whatever. They got to the gate when all this was happening. They saw people struggling with the campus police, the DPS. They saw the lack of communication protestors have been talking about. But also: young Deaf people see the world far more black and white than we do. They saw Deaf people getting beaten up by hearing people, and worse, without interpreters there to try to communicate with any students at the gate. I can only imagine what their reaction was. Can you? They wanted to join the fight. (I felt a moment of pride in MSSD students when I heard that: MSSD kids aren't cowards!) The school administration held them back. They went into the school and channeled their energy into letters of support for the protest and other projects. I am thankful. Our youth should not fight these battles, though I thank the good Goddess they're willing.

I am still working out how I feel about all this. But that horrifies me: what they had to see. Why they had to see it. When I try to justify the Administration's actions in my head in the name of peace, I have this story in my head. And I grieve because one of my dreams is for America to proudly hold up the Deaf community as part of its communities. I am proud my community is so strong: I am grieved that its youth now may see us always in conflict with an uncaring "hearing world."

This is not Israel. This is not a war between two ancient civilizations. But here too the American people have stood up for what they believe in. In Israel Rachel Cory stood for peace and died for it. In America one death led to the beginning of awareness that things still needed to change. Are we going to need to go that far for the right to determine, essentially, our own futures? To have Deaf people's education, at least, free of barriers and oppression?

Why do I offer you these words? They seem depressing. Because I think you are like me. You do not want to see this kind of fight: it's dirty, it's a barroom brawl, and it's getting nasty on both sides. We both want to see a peace. But this is getting down to the bone of principle now. This is getting down to the role and responsibility of a University's President to lead and protect the community. In Loco Parentis, no, but yes, the guidance of people who lead us through a more complicated education to the next stage of adulthood, and a career. Would you use a bulldozer on your child? Even on your neighborhood's children? I wouldn't. Not for the world. Do we need someone who would, as a President of Gallaudet University? And so I use these thoughts to give me fire. We have nothing to lose and everything to gain by a strong University: a barrier-free education for everyone including barrier free "protection," and a barrier-free future. Wasn't it old "Bulldozer" Jordan himself who once said "Deaf people can do anything except hear?"


Anonymous said...


Well written. I am floored myself... Just can't believe that this would happen.

I did notice that Jordan said that he takes FULL responsiblity for what happened on that day. I think he's sacrificing himself for Fernandes so that he looks like the bad guy and she looks like the good guy. Sickening...

But, what perplexes me is, using a bulldozer against people is like using a weapon. The same is true about throwing pipes and pieces of wood. That's attempted murder. It may not have been premediated murder, but it definitely was attempted murder-- And Jordan, since he publicily took responsibility- WHY IS HE NOT CHARGED WITH ATTEMPTED MURDER AND ARRESTED? WHY WASN'T THE DRIVER OF THE BULLDOZER ARRESTED AND CHARGED WITH ATTEMPTED MURDER?

What's wrong with this country? What's wrong with DC police? It's possible that it may take one of the injured students to take offical legal action to do this, but I really think it needs to be done, personally. Not because of revenge or any of that, but because it is WRONG and ATTEMPTED MURDER. I mean, come on. As you said, who uses a bulldozer on people?

Best Regards,
Erick Ketcham

Anonymous said...

first, it was about 2000 people that marched on the capitol, not 4000. why do supporters constantly inflate the numbers?
second, they used bulldozers on the tent city. the protesters chose to get their bodies in the way.
third, attempted murder? all sense has apparently been lost.

Anonymous said...

1. DC police themselves estimated the crowd at 4000. After years and years of counting protest numbers, i'm inclined to take their word for it. 2. kids were SLEEPING in these tents whent he pipes and lumber where toss at tehm, and the dozer came in to scoop them up. 3. I wouldn't go with attempted murder. But it most definately was assult and battery, nothing less. Joseph, thanks for sharing your thoughts on this craziness! - ken @ Bibliomarket

Anonymous said...

Very pertinent question: would you use a bulldozer on your neighborhood children? Thank you, Rainmond. Also very apropos is pointing out the fact that MSSD seniors witnessed the oppression of their older brothers and sisters. It will be interesting to see how they stand up for the student body when they become Gallaudet students.