|Former Senate Republican leader Bob Dole is wheeled into |
the Senate last Tuesday. Photo: CSPAN2 via AP)
The fact that 126 of the 155 signatories had already ratified it, that the disabilities community and veterans groups supported it, and that several senior Republican legislators (including former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, former President H.W. Bush and Sen. John McCain) urged ratification did not move them.
The Senators' arguments were flimsy and far-fetched. Two that topped their list were the fears that the treaty could supersede conflicting US legislation and that the parents of disabled children might be prohibited from home-schooling. "Those who hold the treaty up as some kind of threat are seeing boogeymen", was how USA Today put it. But they only needed to whittle down support to less than a two- thirds majority in order to succeed. And they did that.
My own country, on the other hand, ratified the treaty with nary an objection. But was that only an empty gesture? After all, over here, acceptance and inclusion of people with disabilities still lags significantly behind many other developed countries.
While writing this, I was alerted by my daughter, P., to a TV news report. There have been a string of attacks, e.g. arson, against several residences for the disabled. Apparently the perpetrators are angry neighbors. Footage was shown of demonstrations against homes for the disabled in cities around the country. We were treated to the usual rants about how these homes lower real estate values. But here was an infuriating twist: the mayors of those cities led the protesters!
So it's no surprise that we need a radio commercial that's airing frequently these days. It goes something like this:
Hello. I'd like not to reserve a table at your restaurant.
- Great. When will you not be coming?
- OK. And how many people won't you be?
We won't be a party of six.
- And would you like not to sit indoors or outdoors?
We won't sit outdoors.
- Fine. I have not made your reservation.
In case the point was lost in translation, it was to highlight that many, if not most of our restaurants, theaters and even office buildings still flout the law and are wheelchair-inaccessible.