Arnold Schwarzenegger’s name has been in the news a lot lately, mostly as it pertains to our Man-Baby in Chief and his endless need to prove to the world that his manhood is biglier than everyone else’s. But as fun as responding to President Trump’s jabs about Schwarzenegger’s Apprentice ratings must be for the actor and former governor of California, Schwarzenegger has recently turned his attention to a new cause, and it’s one I think has actual merit.
After recording himself with some participants in Austria’s Special Olympics games and posting it to his Facebook page with over 16 million followers, Schwarzenegger noticed, amid the many positive comments, one truly disgusting one:
The comment that sparked Schwarzenegger’s disdain, which has since been deleted, read as follows:
The Special Olympics make no sense. The Olympics are for the best athletes in the entire world to compete against each other to determine who is the best. Having retards competing is doing the opposite!
As a long-time supporter of the Special Olympics whose family has also devoted time and energy to supporting this cause for athletes with intellectual disabilities, Schwarzenegger was having none of it. He brilliantly responded to the cruelty, dubbing it a “teachable moment”:
As evil and stupid as this comment is, I’m not going to delete it or ban you (yet) because it’s a teachable moment. You have two possible paths ahead. Right now, I guarantee you that these athletes have more courage, compassion, brains and skill – actually more of every positive human quality than you. So take their path – you could learn from them, and try to challenge yourself, to give back, to add something to the world. Or you can stay on your path, and keep being a sad pitiful jealous Internet troll who adds nothing to the world but mocks anyone who does out of small-minded jealousy. I know that all you really want is attention, so let me be clear. If you choose to keep going this way, no one will ever remember you.
I, myself, am no stranger to the inhumanity many people hurl at those with disabilities. Both my uncle, who recently passed, and my son had/have their own intellectual and physical challenges, and I have, from a young age, worked to raise awareness about the harmful effects that such a negative mentality can have on our fellow citizens who both struggle and live happily with disabilities.
I watched my uncle, who had Down Syndrome and was, in fact, a state of Michigan representative for the first International Special Olympics, battle such derision throughout his life, and I work tirelessly to ensure my own son, who has cerebral palsy after suffering a stroke in utero, has a positive view of himself.
These and other reasons are why I couldn’t be happier with Schwarzenegger’s reply.
As a celebrity who has the ear of far more people than the average person, Schwarzenegger has a choice about how he uses his words to reach and influence the large number of people who look and listen to him, and he used that power to deliver an important message about kindness and perspective.
So thank you, Mr. Schwarzenegger, for doing your part to dismantle ableism. May many others, famous and not, follow in your footsteps.