for the damaged

I don’t forget that there were other victims.

I read a book when I was 14 about the systematic killing of the disabled under the Nazi regime. I know how easily it might have been me. I noted today, in my log of Bamberg’s Holocaust dead, that one woman had been involuntarily committed and subsequently gassed. Was she even Jewish? My mother looks at me in hijab and sees an Arab, after all. My friend Brian once told me I resembled his Irish mother. So what do looks matter? Madwomen died, that was it. Hitler had no room for us.

. . .

I’m supposed to find some way to sum up the entirety of social welfare history in six pages, with room to discuss other concepts, and here I am marveling that I am not supposed to care what happened in my own homeland. The country of my birth had its head in the sand then as now. America, you big, beautiful blonde, you read your fashion magazines and ignore the atrocities around you.

How am I meant to ignore this piece of my history? How can it not inform my future in human services? I am already having to force out the second-wave feminist narratives I’ve read about the way welfare really worked under LBJ and Nixon. We’ve read about Pinel and his unshackling of his fifty “maniacs”, but not about his subsequent appointment to the notorious Salpêtrière. We’re meant, at this point in our education, to know more of the world than what is waved under our noses in a textbook. Why then can we not be trusted to read it and select a topic for closer focus? I could get six pages out of the evolution of the treatment of the mentally ill alone.

Let me ask her if she really and truly meant six pages, and if so, did she want them single- or double-spaced? How much detail? Does she care if we gloss over a few presidents? I can hit the high points: New Deal, Great Society, ADA, Obamacare. Boom. What do I say about the welfare “reforms” that are really just an effort to promote Judeo-Christian family values? Without knowing that, in the past, women were penalized for having partners, the provision for two-parent families on welfare reads like an attempt to force women to marry when they’re happier alone. A missing sperm donor is better than a deadbeat. Neither will pay his fair share, after all, but one is a drain on a woman’s resources.

Too much parroting, too little critical thinking. Is it any wonder I’m struggling with this assignment? Better go write to her.


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