In a mere three words, he has not only left-out, he has alienated the majority of people of short stature. Though, at least in my case, the adage names will never hurt me is not true, I understand that within certain circles, the word midget is still in heavy circulation. A few morning disc jockeys, a few people of short stature who pretend to wrestle, some bloggers, and some tired comedians, all continue to wear-out the word. But I try not to spend much energy on the people who use the word. Because in 2009, people who use the word are not trying to build bridges that will create a more tolerant, inclusive, unified society. I take it for granted that people who strive toward inclusivity, acceptance and diversity know the power of language and will not speak words before understanding the impact. Which is why what Steele said on February 19 is so difficult to bear. Here a man charged with rebuilding an organization uses the one word that represents generations of stigma, objectification and isolation for people of short stature.
There are only two explanations for Steele's comment. Either he doesn't know the history behind the word midget, or he doesn't care. Whatever the reason, what Steele said caused damage. In response to his remark, Little People of America sent this statement:
I question the sincerity of a political leader who uses such a poor choice of words to joke about his party’s efforts to outreach to people with disabilities, a group that traditionally has been marginalized in terms of opportunity and participation. Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele used antiquated language that is considered objectifying and contemptible by the largest organization that represents people of short stature in the
In the future, rather than craft “off the hook,” public relations efforts, my hope is that the Republican Party engage in genuine dialogue with the communities it purports to represent.