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,”

Really?

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.

Regards,

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!

Available for purchase on Amazon and iTunes.

TOPICS
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Related to Down Syndrome

Kavita Vazirani-Helsel and her daughter, Ava

The 3 Things I Needed to Hear After My Daughter With Down Syndrome Was Born

When we had our daughter, Ava, nine years ago, we didn’t know she was going to have Down syndrome. We even chose not to know if we were having a boy or a girl. The fact that we were fortunate enough to create life was an incredible gift in itself. And what a gift she has [...]
Newborn baby feet.

The Moments I Knew It Would Be OK After the Birth of My Son With Down Syndrome

We found out at birth that our son Alex has Down syndrome. Though our neonatologist delivered the news beautifully, he arrived after an emergency c-section which left us raw. That night we had a lot to wrap our minds around, but after I stabilized, the staff rolled me down to see our son, and at that [...]
A photo from the Uncle Bill's Coffee Stop Facebook page shows a few of its offerings.

George Augstell, Man With Down Syndrome, Opens Uncle Bill’s Coffee Stop

When William B. Gee Sr., died of cancer in 2013 at age 47, his nephew wanted to honor his memory. George Augstell, 28, who has Down syndrome, decided to combine the legacy of his uncle with his own lifelong dream of opening a coffee shop, stemming from volunteer work in food service and a love [...]
The author's son wearing a blue shirt

When a Woman Said ‘At Least You Can’t Tell’ My Son Has Down Syndrome

We’ve all experienced the awkward silence that occurs when somebody injects something ridiculously inappropriate into the conversation. But when you have a child with Down syndrome, “word vomit” takes on a whole new meaning. It puts people on the spot. Nobody has ever rehearsed their response to finding out a baby or child has Down syndrome. Some people [...]