Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Mental illness, President Obama, and the politics of ignorance!

     As we close the door on the recent Presidential election, many commentators and political pundits will spend an inordinate amount of time analyzing how and why it ended the way it did. Many will point to “defining” moments and such, while ignoring other pertinent details. However, there was something that exemplified a double standard in the national media, half of which was exploited, while the most damaging aspect was ignored.
     Back in October, Conservative personality Ann Coulter raised the ire of mainstream media by calling The President a “retard”. The outcry was predictable, as she was deemed hateful, ignorant, and those were among the kindest descriptions. Though it was a poor choice of words, she never once used this term to demean a group of people in a discriminatory fashion. She, in fact, directed it at one single person. Additionally, I have heard harsher and more offensive words used on the national setting against Mitt Romney and Ann Coulter herself. However, that is a discussion for another time.
     What the public should find disturbing is the phony outrage that many members of the political left have when it comes to their selective condemnation, while ignoring their own hatred, and personal bias. A good example would be President Obama’s acceptance of exclusion of a particular segment of society, which was rooted with his comments largely ignored by the national media.  During one of the debates, the discussion predictably turned to gun control. President Obama said, “We have to…make sure that we’re keeping guns out of the hands of criminals, those who are mentally ill.” This degrading comment is one that ignores the knowledge that those with mental illness are not more violent than the rest of society, but are more likely to be victims of criminal acts. More importantly, this was not just calling someone a name; it dehumanized and diminished over fifty million people who suffer one of these disorders.
     My question to the people who demonized Ann Coulter is straightforward; why no outrage at these comments from the President? He, against all evidence to the contrary, categorized a diverse group of people with violent felons. According to him, a woman with post-partum depression is comparable to a violent individual who robbed, assaulted or even killed another.  Add to it the soldiers coming home as heroes fighting wars, who suffer PTSD and in many cases will be given a lifetime sentence of treatment for mental health issues. Are they also to be categorized with the violent criminals?
     If that is not enough evidence that these comments are a form of bigotry, how about adding to the mix, the challenges facing the local police. These first responders endure the daily threat of “Vicarious Trauma”, which is witnessing traumatic events on a daily basis over the course of time. With that, mental health issues come to light after many years of dealing with some of life’s most extraordinary tragedies. Since this can and does trigger some form of mental illness, are they now part of President Obama’s sub-culture that is categorized with violent criminals? Sadly, this issue is being met with the media’s self-imposed censorship.
     One person who did speak through the silence was a former Washington Post writer and mental health advocate, Pete Earley. This man, who authored the book, “Crazy, a Fathers Search Through America’s Mental Health Madness”, was one of the few critics of the Presidents repugnant comments. He brought up an intriguing correlation. Imagine the outcry from the left if we substituted the words mentally ill with, Blacks, Hispanics or Gays. Many of the same groups that condemned Ann Coulter would be up in arms against anyone who would demean these minority groups. However, the left identifies only selective bias!
     Instead of outrage from the side of “Inclusion” we discover deafening silence and sadly, this adds to the acceptance of intolerance of those with one of these conditions. No one from MSNBC, who is constantly railing against the so-called hatred of the conservative’s, ever said a word, except to anoint Obama as the savior of western civilization. Why did these people refuse to at least question this President’s need to humiliate people because of an illness? Here again, it appears that they practice nothing more than acceptable desecration.
     To enlighten people, let me introduce everyone to those that belong to this subculture of the mentally ill. They are your friends, your neighbors, loved ones, and yes, they are soldiers that are returning from war. Add to them teachers, police officers, firemen, writers, and yes, even Presidents of the United States! This “fraternities” membership is like everyone else; they wake up, work hard, and try and live a happy life. Since this President has shown disdain and ignorance, he should walk down any street and count four houses, because in one of them, there will be a family directly impacted by someone close who is battling a mental health affliction. People in this group have struggles that only members of this minority class and their loved ones can fully understand. When these individuals fall, it is their close circles of friends that are there to find help for them as they struggle to locate treatment.
     The left is always screaming diversity; well I have a lesson for them. The members of this fraternity are the most diverse congregation ever created. These diseases attack with relentless abandonment to every group. They are prevalent in Whites, Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Christians,Muslims, Jewish, Atheists, Conservatives and even Liberals! The diseases are non-discriminatory in nature, and they do not even differentiate the social economic standing of its targets.
    Not surprisingly, we do not hear a vast deal of the positive contributions to society by those with mental illness.  Many accomplish a great deal, but most good work usually goes unrecognized. However, when tragedy strikes, that opens the door for some exploitation that does nothing but undermine the opportunities people have for acceptance. 
     In Aurora, Colorado and Tucson, Arizona, mass killings took place by two individuals who suffer from severe mental illness. However, rather than examining the cause and finding a solution, the left once again, used it as an opportunity to utilize the “fictitious hate” of conservative groups. The Tea Party and Sarah Palin are always the two main targets for the left’s rant. Surprisingly, Ann Coulter was not blamed in these tragedies, but I am certain someone will now find a way to add some culpability on her part.
     What was ignored in those tragedies, specifically Tucson, is that our failing mental health system with archaic laws and ever diminishing readily available treatment are the main culprit. Not surprisingly, no one on the federal level has done anything significant to modernize these laws or open the door for better treatment. Yet, President Obama who was quick to condemn this segment of the population, has done nothing in correcting this form of discrimination. Based on his comments, it appears that he accepts this kind of bigotry, and is willing to sacrifice those vulnerable people for political gain, as members of the political left cheered his hateful comments.  
     To be fair, no one on the right side of the political spectrum spoke out against these deplorable comments. Conversely, not one of the liberal commentators defended people with mental illness, but they sure were ready to attack Ann Coulter for an ill advised name calling incident.   
     For many years now, advocates across the country have worked tirelessly to promote awareness that people with mental illness are not violent, or drains on society. This advocacy has and continues to be an uphill climb. With this acceptance by the national media of the Presidents discriminatory comments, that dream of inclusion will become just that much more challenging, and for some people, it may become impossible. In the meantime, people on the left should refrain from their phony outrage, because their silence on these comments, suggest that they are the true bigots. After all, while you were pointing your finger at Ann Coulter, how many were left pointing back at yourselves?


  1. I truly believe that in almost all instances it isn't maliciousness or insensitivity that makes it difficult for people to empathize with those who feel suicidal or with the people who have committed suicide. It's simply a lack of understanding of what it's like to be so severely depressed that you are driven to it. I hope this post helps.

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