Why should we care about helping the Charlottesville terrorist’s quadriplegic mother? Because #LoveConquersHate
My heart hurt watching events unfold in Charlottesville.
It hurt because of the continued outward resurgence of the worst of humanity — the need to feel superior to others and the hate-filled anger that has risen up in our streets.
It hurt because my own 24-year-old child who has marched for justice and equality from Oakland to Minnesota, was so upset over the weekend’s events, she could not even answer my call. She is friends with a comrade of Heather Heyer, the woman who was killed by neo-Nazi James Fields, and I hurt because the woman who died could have easily been my own daughter.
I hurt from seeing many images of hate and pain, and from the disbelief that it’s young men, not the old, bitter men who lost what they felt was their rightful rule, but men in their 20s, who have succumbed to the brainwashing and evil influence that is the basis for all terrorism, including white supremacy.
Then I saw the video of James Fields’ mother, Samantha Bloom, who was caught off guard as a reporter filmed her while giving her the news, “Your son ran his car into a crowd of people,” and killed one and injured many more. She is one of us, a fellow wheelchair user, a quad pushing her manual chair in heels and jeans, who had just driven to her son’s home to feed his cat when she was ambushed in the parking garage.
She was, of course, in shock and disbelief … it took time to sink in. When it did, she started to sob and my heart hurt for her as well.
My immediate response was to reach out to her to offer help. I wanted to find her and let her know she had us as a community to help her through this terrible time. Never once did I think to blame her, to want her to suffer for what her son has done.
Some immediately supported this call:
Because #Loveconquershate, wrote author Camille Araujo, who shared the post.
Yet, soon after, came the hurtful responses.
Some said our desire to reach out to her because she was disabled was “condescending.” No, it was compassion. We can offer support to those in our own community without it being based on pity, but rather on our shared struggle and understanding for our unique challenges.
Some questioned if we should support her “just because she was in a wheelchair,” and I say, why not? Given that she is not the “evil mother who is responsible for the terrorist spawn” as many seem to want to believe, “because she is in a wheelchair” is indeed enough reason for us to support her.
Are We a Community?
Our community does not yet fully recognize the power and impact we could have if we raised each other up. We do not often see much support from the other groups who have joined together and made strong progress. While many in the disabled community support gay rights, march to protect civil rights and fight to stop discrimination against immigrants, we are often left unmentioned and unseen at events and coalitions that say they are inclusive. We are often scattered and fragmented. And even more disappointing, we are often our own worst enemies, pulling others down with criticism and scathing remarks that can be outwardly reflective of inner hurt and anger.
We can disagree with each other on this issue and not support Samantha Bloom “just because she is in a wheelchair,” but we can do so constructively and with without throwing daggers that add to other’s struggles.
“But she should have known, been a better parent or she may be a sympathizer,” said one commenter. Some even recalled Hitler killed the disabled, and somehow by supporting this mother we were complicit.
Any Mother Would be Devastated
We should give her the benefit of the doubt until we know otherwise and frankly, who can control a man of 20 who is drawn into this type of online influence by his peers? Until I hear she is condoning this behavior, and her words say otherwise, I wish to support her.
“I moved him out of the house recently,” she said. “I thought he was at an Albright meeting.” She didn’t even know what alt-right was! “I try to stay out of his politics,” she said. And I will give her the benefit of the doubt.
“She didn’t appear to be bothered much,” said some. To me, her reaction is one of someone in disbelief and shock. You can see once she has time to let the news sink in, she begins to break down and weep. She may truly be, as I know any mother would, devastated to have found out that she will never ever see her son out of jail again. That someone else’s children have been killed and injured. It is unimaginable pain.
Consider she may be innocent, and another victim of this hate. She is a widow who has now lost her son to a life in jail or maybe even death if he is charged with a hate crime. She may need an accessible place to run and hide, she may need someone to tell her, “We are here for you.”
Founder and creator of PUSHLiving.com, Deborah Davis is most passionate about building a network of people with disabilities who are empowering, supporting and creating a more inclusive world. A C6-7 quad and, she is a mother of two beautiful, wise and exceptionally bright young women, and residing in South Florida.