A Letter to Alex Jones, From a Mother of a Son With Down Syndrome
Dear Mr. Jones,
I opened my Facebook account and saw something in my feed that shocked me. Something so heinous that I found it almost unbelievable. It was your comment about Hillary Clinton.
According to Media Matters, you said, “She looks like she’s got, I’m sorry, Down syndrome whenever she’s out there with the balloons falling, like she’s a 3-year old with a lobotomy,”
Wow. I understand during campaigns individuals can be enthusiastic about the candidates they’re supporting. But I’d like to respectfully ask that you take just a second to consider not only the words that came out of your mouth, but the meaning they took on because of the context in which you said them.
When I read your comment, I was amazed at how ignorant and dismissive it sounded. You have no idea what people with Down syndrome have to do to achieve. You have no concept of how much work a person with Down syndrome and their families have to do to just to ensure that people with Down syndrome are included in schools, workplaces and on community teams. Your comment made it sound like people with Down syndrome are not valued members of our communities. With one comment, you made it sound like Down syndrome was something so unattractive and something to be sorry about.
Mr. Jones, you got it completely wrong.
I’m the mother of a 5-year old boy, Evan, who has Down syndrome. When Evan was born, it was clear society was conditioned to think it was something to be sorry about. It’s not, and you need to know that.
My son with Down syndrome has an incredible work ethic. What I’ve learned in my amazing five years with him is that it takes him a lot more effort to do many of the things that come naturally to his typical peers. He is a hard-working little boy who sits through hours of therapy each week that have helped him jump, run, draw, write, cut, speak, learn math concepts and know his letters and the sounds they make.
My son with Down syndrome is determined to succeed. He is little boy who will attempt new skills a dozen times as he is learning them, until he can do them easily. He doesn’t give up just because something is too difficult.
My son with Down syndrome is an advocate. He visited his senators and representatives to advocate for people with Down syndrome. After one of our visits, our representative joined the Congressional Taskforce on Down Syndrome.
My son with Down syndrome is empathetic. When Evan sees people who are upset, he is the first to offer a hug and support. When people are celebrating, he celebrates with them.
My son with Down syndrome is also not many things. He is not hateful or vengeful. He doesn’t play games. He doesn’t intentionally act in ways that are hurtful to others.
When you look at all these characteristics that my son has and those he does not have, it all adds up to a truly good person — someone that any American citizen and presidential candidate should be glad to emulate.
Mr. Jones, I understand you’re enthusiastic about the candidate you’re supporting, but what you did was the basest thing a human could do. You mocked a whole group of people — a group of Americans and citizens about whom you know nothing — because of their disability. I hope you’ll take a moment to read the many social media comments, stories and open letters that are undoubtedly crossing your desk and hope at some point it hits you. You are a citizen of the U.S., where all people, regardless of ability, are considered equal, and your commentary is unacceptable coming from another U.S. citizen.
I encourage you to visit the websites of the National Down Syndrome Congress and the National Down Syndrome Society to educate yourself about the people you insulted, and I hope that you issue a sincere, heartfelt apology.
Julie M Gerhart-Rothholz
Have you seen the first film with a national release to star a person with Down syndrome? Check out the film “Where Hope Grows” today!