Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.
An off-hand but deeply troubling remark has undermined what should have been an easy event for the White House to pull off on Friday: the honoring of Olympics and Paralympics medal-winners.
President Donald Trump hosted the event and praised the athletes for their achievements.
“What happened with the Paralympics was so incredible and so inspiring to me,” Trump said. But then he continued: “And I watched — it’s a little tough to watch too much, but I watched as much as I could.”
As Bustle noted, these remarks prompted outrage on Twitter.
It’s not exactly clear what Trump meant, but it seemed to suggest he was uncomfortable watching the Paralympics athletes — who have a range of disabilities — perform in their events. The idea that people with disabilities are inherently flawed or somehow off-putting is a deeply harmful prejudice that continues to contribute to unjust discrimination.
If the president hadn’t previously mocked a reporter’s disability on the campaign trail, one might be able to give Trump the benefit of the doubt and assume he wasn’t expressing any prejudice. But Trump never apologized for that cruel display, and he merits no benefit of the doubt on this issue. One might think he was saying he doesn’t have much time to watch much TV as president — but that idea is laughable on its face.
The most plausible interpretation is the also the most obvious: The president had no problem expressing his discomfort with people who have disabilities at an event meant to honor their achievements.
Watch the clip below:
WATCH: During an event with Team USA Olympians and Paralympians at the White House, President Trump said, “What happened with the Paralympics was so incredible and so inspiring to me. And I watched — it’s a little tough to watch too much, but I watched as much as I could.” pic.twitter.com/geYUUu9vmg
— PBS NewsHour (@NewsHour) April 27, 2018
This headline of this story originally used the word “hard” instead of “tough,” which is what the president actually said.
Cody Fenwick is a reporter and editor. Follow him on Twitter @codytfenwick.