Let me start by saying Michael Garcia should be applauded. He did a brave and difficult thing. At the risk of potentially losing his job, he stood up to some rude customers who refused to sit next to a child with Down syndrome. Thank you Michael Garcia.
(Full story here: http://rt.com/usa/news/waiter-syndrome-special-garcia-056/ )
But as the parent of a child with Down syndrome, I’m left wondering a few things that I should write down…maybe it’ll help me sort it out.
Ok, what the hell is wrong with people? Really? Afraid you are going to “catch” Down syndrome? That extra chromosome is going to leap from the child to you, and you might wake up tomorrow with a scratchy throat, Brushfield spots, and Epicanthal folds?
Remember a week or so ago, a minister left a restaurant after stiffing the wait staff of a tip, and wrote a sarcastic, rude message on the bill? The hunt was on, and eventually that pastor’s name was everywhere in the press. She was publicly shamed and embarrassed (rightfully), and held up as a model of “what is wrong with Christians these days”.
Yet the rude and ignorant behavior of these fools who wouldn’t sit near a DS kid is just a faceless table of anonymous diners. The story in the press focuses on the decent, moral (and what should be) normal response of the waiter, and doesn’t attach a face or name to the rude customers.
Now imagine if you will that same scenario, only the child didn’t have Down syndrome, let’s say he’s part of another discriminated group, let’s pretend for a moment the child was black.
Now in today’s world, the nearby table raises a fuss, and refuses to sit next to the black child. What would become of the customers when they turned out to be just unabashed racists in public?
Well, I pray a waiter, would again step-up and do the right thing and tell them off…and I don’t doubt that one would. I’m going to also guess we’d know their names, where they worked (if they still had jobs the next day), and they’d rightfully be pariahs for their mean ignorance. Racism is hideous, and should be stomped out and brought to light. Equally heinous are the people who made a fuss about sitting near a child like mine. Cognitive delayed individuals are the last acceptable discrimination. Folks who wouldn’t dream of using the n-word, or even calling something “gay”, still toss around the r-word like it’s a hilarious punchline.
My favorite is “Well I wouldn’t ever call a person like your daughter “retard”!”
Oh-Ok. I never thought of that. I’m sure you use the n-word (which also will marginalize and dehumanize) frequently to refer to something that’s broken or not moving fast enough. It’s ok: you’d never call a person of African descent that, right? Then let ‘er fly! Genius vocabulary, friend!
My point is, Michael Garcia did a marvelous thing. I hope there’s someone like him around if my daughter is ever out dining and that happens to her…because unlike other victims of discrimination, she’s not capable into getting into a verbal battle on why it’s wrong. Also, if we’re going to hold someone personally accountable for stiffing wait staff of a $5 tip, shouldn’t an equal public shaming threat await those who would discriminate against our most dehumanized and victimized fellow citizens?