Posted by: Hallie Levine | January 10, 2017

Libtards

I don’t have very many hard core Trump supporters left on my Facebook feed. Some of them got defriended in the aftermath of the election, when I got tired of reading rants about seeing Hillary Clinton executed and racist diatribes against Obama. Some of them silently defriended me, I’m guessing due to my own passionate, highly politicized posts. Some I had to block, when they sent me harassing private messages. But as hard as it for me to read sometimes, I’ve tried to keep as many pro Trump folks in my feed as I can. It’s the whole keep your friends close but your enemies closer feeling. Can’t form the resistance if you don’t know what the other side is thinking.

So when I woke up this morning and scrolled through my Facebook feed in those few luxurious moments I steal each day before my kids wake up, I flinched slightly when I read an anti-Meryl Streep missive posted by one of my so-called frenemies. I don’t know the guy who posted it at all, actually. He’s runs an uber conservative PR company, and how he got my name and friended me I have no idea. Maybe he thought I shared his political leanings because I worked for the New York Post two decades ago.

As much as I yearned to write a response, I balked. I’ve found that posting something—even something fairly innocuous—on a Trump supporter’s page can lead to all sorts of ugliness, something I wasn’t sure I felt like dealing with before my caffeine had kicked in. But I ended up writing something. I had sat in bed the night before and cried as I watched Streep’s speech. When she called out Trump for mocking the disabled New York Times reporter, I wept. Like her, it had broken my heart to watch. As the mother of a little girl with Down syndrome, it had grieved me that others didn’t see the cruelty in our President-elect’s taunts—including many parents of children with disabilities.

So I took a deep breath and posted a comment, a heartfelt defense of Streep as the mother of a child with an intellectual disability. A few minutes later, as I was about to go upstairs to wake my kids up for the day, I heard the chiming sound which I knew in my gut meant someone was responding to my comment. Do I look now? I silently wondered. Or do I wait until they are safely off to school?

Dear reader, I took the bait and clicked. And there, right below the comment, was a comment from another woman, with just one word: “Libtard.”

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I was shocked. I’ve heard that word before, of course. It seems many conservatives have no problem throwing that word around when it comes to anyone who’s remotely to the left of them (that’s central for the rest of the world, BTW). I’ve seen it on Facebook feeds, and each time it’s a punch in the gut. Sometimes, when I’ve had the energy, I’ve posted a gentle reprimand, asking them to please not use the word as it’s insulting to people with intellectual disabilities. More often than not, I get an apology and the comment taken down.

But this was the first time I’d seen it used in this context, to attack the parent of a child with a disability. It was clear she’d chosen her words deliberately, carefully picking the one thing to say that would deliver the sharpest sting.

I wrote back within seconds, asking her why she would say that to the mother of a little girl with Down syndrome.

She wrote back almost immediately, telling me to knock the crap off and she wasn’t referring to me.

Then who was she referring to? Empty air?

I wrote back that I found that hard to believe but regardless it was an inappropriate word to use, period.

I waited until the kids were on their respective buses before checking Facebook again. There were no comments. I wondered if I’d shamed her into silence. But when I went back to check the post, it was gone. Mr. Conservative PR man had defriended me. Which, at the end of the day, was no great loss. I wouldn’t have to see his favorite Breitbart articles in my news feed anymore. And my blood pressure probably couldn’t have handled the hate comments that were no doubt being directed to me at that very moment anyway.

I knew I should just shrug it off and get on with things, which included not only a full day of work but phone calls to my senators and Congressman

I posted something on my Facebook page and got a swift reaction. Two of my editors, Louise Sloan and Tula Karas, sent lovely, impassioned letters to Michelle respectfully explaining why they were so upset at her using the word libtard. My mother, bless her heart, actually called the office and asked to speak to either Michelle or her mother—when she explained why, they promptly hung up on her. The comments, which were so full of love and support and we’ve-got-your-back-girl were all that was keeping me from crawling under the covers with Ivry dog and not reemerging until the kids got off the bus.

There’s so much I could say that’s completely un-PC, so I won’t. After all, as my favorite first lady of all time, Michelle Obama, says, “when they go low, we go high.” But I will say, these are the people Hillary Clinton meant when she used the word “deplorables.” How angry do you have to be, how full of self-loathing, to attack a well meaning mother of a disabled child? What about yourself do you hate so much that you feel the need to lash out at everyone around you, including (and especially) the most vulnerable segments of our population?

And while I have rage against them, I’m also feeling very, very bitter towards a group of acquaintances who also voted for Trump. Maybe they didn’t agree with much of what he said, and maybe they held their noses and cast their ballot for him because they consider themselves die-hard Republicans, or they hated Hillary Clinton THAT much, but these are exactly the sort of people who SHOULDN’T be complacent when this ugliness comes out. I know so many parents locally in my Down syndrome community who voted for Trump. Are they so blinded by ideology (which he doesn’t share with them, BTW), or do they simply not value their own kids enough to see that this man and his supporters despise people with disabilities? Just the use of the word libtard is testimony to that. And yes, of course Trump did not come up with that word himself, but he has created an environment ripe for such harassment to happen.

To them, I say shame on you. For all of the Trump voters who aren’t standing up and condemning this hatred, shame on you. You may have voted for him and you may not have liked him, but you have a moral responsibility to stand up and defend those who can’t defend themselves. Which, in this case, is my darling Jo Jo and others like her.

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Responses

  1. I’m so proud of you, Hallie! I do believe in karma, and this poor excuse for a human being will eventually reap what she has sown.

  2. I know the woman that has angered you. She is irrational and completely unhinged. Absolutely toxic. Your efforts to have a reasoned conversation are wasted. This may be depressing to you, but she will revel in her hatred forever.

    • Sadly, I’m not surprised. All I can do every day is work to raise my kids to be better people and the exact antithesis of her. Thanks for commenting.

  3. Your article speaks so eloquently! If the lady could only have some compassion and humanity to write as eloquent as you! Thank you Hallie!

  4. Sorry this has you so upset. She’s a bully and would never think that what she said to you is wrong. ((Hugs)) Sadly I also know people like this.

  5. A very refreshing and inspiring read, thank you. I did not vote for Mrs. Clinton. It surprises me that when you tell that to people, they assume you voted for Mr. Trump.
    I agree with most of what you said. The creation of an atmosphere in which that type of behavior is “OK” is unacceptable. We just need to keep throwing that back at those who think it has become acceptable. Mike M

    • I’m surprised that you’re surprised at people assuming you voted for Trump when you tell them you didn’t vote for Hillary. If you didn’t realize it before the election, how don’t you now… any vote other than one for Hillary WAS a vote for Donald Trump.

      It sounds like that wasn’t your intention. I’m sure you had your reasons. So many Trump voters held their nose and voted for “pro-life”, against Syrian refugees, for the wall, to repeal the ACA, etc., etc.. The foul and greedy core of Trump as a human being, his overwhelming lack of qualifications and unhinged mental status all took a back seat.

      The time to rail against a “rigged” 2 party system was AFTER the election. Good and decent people everywhere needed to unite to vote against that maniac. Some of the biggest life long Republicans that served this country and know how the government works, crossed party lines to stand against Trump.

      I don’t understand how so many others didn’t.

      I know my post veers away a bit from the beautifully written, heartbreaking article above. But the boldness to publicly be as vicious as Michelle Marie Zare is permeating our country. We see it in the news we watch and read, we see it from friends, family and “frenemies” in our social media feeds.

      So kindly and respectfully, when people react with surprise that you didn’t vote for Hillary but are not a Trump supporter, that is why.

      Collectively, this country stood on the tracks staring at a train as it barreled down upon us but didn’t move out of the way.

      Hallie, I’m so sorry you had to endure such a personal and nasty attack. As a parent myself I am so angry for you.

    • Sadly by not voting for Hillary you absolutely voted for Trump. It’s like people saying they didn’t help Hitler when they did nothing to stop him, either. Result > intent.

  6. There’s absolutely no way this is acceptable behavior.

  7. Thanks for standing up for your daughter. We should all stand up for each other. It’s not easy. I am moved by your courage and inspired by your act. The best thing about the next four year term is that it presents an opportunity to expose the belly of the beast. Once it’s out in the open, maybe it’s possible for people to realize we are all one person, all made out of the same cosmic goo. If one of us is in chains, none of us is free.

  8. You should be consoled in knowing that even parents of children who are considered “typical” abhor such comments and actions. Be consoled in knowing that there are more families out there doing everything they can to make sure their children are sensitive and compassionate towards others who’s are different from them or with disabilities. I am convinced that we wouldn’t have had a Trump or others like this lady be so brave today if their parents did their jobs of raising kind and caring citizens. Our future must be different.

  9. I am the mother of a special needs son who has been diagnosed and is considered to be 100% disabled. I am a Republican as well as an advocate for special needs persons. If I thought for one moment that Donald Trump was intentionally mocking the disabled, I would have a problem with it. I do NOT feel that was his intent but it is handy to jump on that wagon if you are a Liberal.

    • I’m confused by this. When he was mimicking the disabled reporter at his event, what would you call that? I call that mocking. Surely you don’t think his exaggerated copying of the disabled man’s mannerisms was a compliment?

    • Entirely honest and curious question… are you concerned about his nominee for Secretary of Education? I work with many kids who have special and unique needs and am really anxious about what the swing toward privatization of schools will mean for funding of IEP and gifted services. Private schools aren’t required to provide individualized services and if funding is deferred to tax credits, it scares me for what will happen to these services…

      • You bet I’m concerned! She’s terrible. I have two other little boys, one of whom is gifted and the other is visually impaired and may be academically gifted as well. I shudder to think what Bets will do to our education system….between that, the repeal of ACA, and Trump’s bromance with Putin, I’m a wreck.

  10. Bravo Hallie for your belief in all, your love for your daughter and your courageous leadership in striving for the best environment for all to thrive. I would not have the courage to tackle this in social media – the ease for critics in a nameless and faceless instant environment brings out the worst in too many who dont always realize the hurtful power of their ill chosen words.

  11. Hallie,

    This is Michelle Marie Zere.
    My facebook quote was not directed at you as I clearly stated. The Golden Globes was not the place to slam the new president elect.
    You are out of line with the online slander and barrage of attacks on me.
    You owe me an apology.

    • So what was your reasoning posting an insult right after she posted her comment? Right after she posted her comment stating she was a mother of an intellectually disabled child? Do you not realize how inappropriate and sickening that is, or do you simply not care? I’m assuming you think there isn’t anything wrong with the phrase “retarded,” either. I don’t think it’s her that owes you an apology.

      • I never read her post.
        I never pressed reply to her comment.

    • Actually, I believe you owe Hallie an apology Michelle. You used a derogatory slang term in response to her post. You were wrong to do so and should apologize.

    • Michelle Marie Zere — Everyplace, everywhere, all the time is the appropriate place to remind people of the hatred that Donald Trump spews to everyone who is not a rich white heterosexual male. You reap what you sow Michelle. Hatred breeds hatred. Contempt breeds contempt. Hostility breeds hostility. Maybe someone you know and love will become disabled in the future — then you won’t find it so funny to make fun of the disabled and to mock those who defend them.

  12. Hallie, your daughter is beautiful! Your devotion and defense of her is equally beautiful! As special education teacher, and a human being, I find Mr. Trump’s mocking of the reporter disgusting, deplorable and just plain sad. But, you and your daughter give me hope. Stay strong. 💜

    • And thank you for being in special education! Jo Jo’s special ed teacher is the best in the world.

  13. Thank you for such a beautiful and well written post.

  14. Take my name down from this FAKE news! You are a troublemaker and want a story so bad to write you target people for your own benefit and had your editors contact me? FAKE NEWS!

  15. Wonderful reading.

  16. Sorry, but I think that you took something completely out of context. She was referring to Meryl Streep, not you. Unless a person ‘replied’ to your comment which she did not do, then she wasn’t speaking to you, just commenting, in the same way that you did.
    Now as far as your post. I find it offensive and derogatory towards a lot of people to condemn them because they voted for a candidate. I understand why you have the feelings that you do, but just because people do not agree with you or didn’t vote the way you wanted does not make them evil, wrong, or bad.
    Also I have three mentally disabled family members, who at this time could not ever even comprehend what Libtard means. I believe a lot of people that have a problem with this word, which I completely see and understand the problems with it, are people that it does not describe or effect.

    Also I think it is a bit childish for your editors and even your mother to contact someone because of their comment on a Facebook post. I mean really, how would you respond if someone’s mother called their office to complain about one of your Facebook posts? This is childish, no matter the subject.

  17. Hi Hallie. I am a fellow DS mother. I had a respectful question about your article from a few years back about your Daughter and if you had known you would have had an abortion. My question is why you never mentioned adoption in your article. There are so many loving families out there that would love a disabled child. So why end the child’s life when they have the potential to go on to a wonderful family and thrive?

    • Kaley, which article are you talking about? I have written many essays about my daughter over the last eight years. Thanks.

      • I have read a few of your articles on the subject. I was referring to your article titled “if I knew my daughter had Down Syndrome, I would have had an abortion”

      • Kaley, adoption is a wonderful option. But I am pro-choice and believe a woman has the right to choose whether or not to continue a pregnancy. And unfortunately we live in a society where many people do not want to adopt a child with a disability, which is saddening, of course. I do feel very strongly that parents of children with Down syndrome should spend less time focusing on abortion and put more of their efforts into improving the quality of life for individuals currently living with Down syndrome. We are living in a political climate right now that is very scary for people with disabilities, particularly intellectual disabilities. We need to make sure we do not lose the gains we have made over the last half century.


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