Dear President-elect Trump:
You cannot imagine how strange it seems to write that salutation. I could say it’s because you have been in the news for such a large part of my life, always in the limelight, or seeking it. I can say quite honestly that I am not surprised that you ran for President. But I can say that I am shocked that you were elected. You broke all the rules, and as your supporters who are friends of mine are quick to remind me, you say what you think. On that subject, something you said, or rather, acted out, has stayed with me and continues to mystify me. You were responding to a reporter who took issue with your saying that hundreds of Muslims celebrated the destruction of the World Trade Center. That reporter lives with a disability that manifests itself in a right arm that is bent at an angle and does not move in a way we are used to seeing. When responding to his critique, you appeared to mock him by twisting your arm and exaggerating your movements. I guess the reason that your action at that time sticks in my mind is because I love someone who lives with a disability. Even though you have said horrible things about people with regards to race, gender and religion and I have been angered to hear those things, this one affects me the most. You see, I have watched this individual live with this illness that continues to encroach on her life as it takes a bit of her independence away, day by day. When she walks, she sometimes weaves a path and wonders if people will think she has been drinking. I wonder if you would mock her and imitate her gait. She walks with a cane and sometimes drops it and has to fumble around retrieving it. Would you think that is funny, and would you humiliate her in a room full of your supporters? Would you bother to ask her how she is doing, would you care that she raised two children and held down jobs, all the while, living with a disability that grew a bit more troublesome each year? Would you be surprised to know that she has never complained about her plight, has never felt sorry for herself or asked for pity from anyone? Would you think she lives a life of quiet courage? My friends who support you dismiss my concerns and say that you weren’t really mocking that reporter. But, in fact, you did mock him and then derided those who called attention to your actions. Your imitating a man with a disability can seem to most to be the least of the atrocities you have committed in your campaign and in your public life. But to me, at this time in my life, it stands out because it affects someone I love. And that is probably the reason that many people are angry with you, because all of the hateful things you have said probably affect someone they love, as well. But those of us who love someone who, because of race, gender, religion or disability have become a target of your ridicule and worse cannot begin to feel the pain that those individuals themselves feel. All we can do is stand with them to let them know we will not remain silent whenever and wherever you choose not to.