What happened: Ann Coulter, a media pundit and author, lashed out at President Donald Trump on Sunday, calling him “the most disloyal actual retard that has ever set foot in the Oval Office” in a tweet. Following her use of the offensive term, disability advocates and organizations called Coulter out, asking her to apologize to the disability community.
“It’s certainly legitimate to voice political criticism of elected officials and leadership, but it is completely inappropriate to use the word ‘retard’ in doing so, which is offensive to millions of people with intellectual and cognitive disabilities,” said Jay Ruderman, president of the Ruderman Family Foundation. “Ann Coulter should apologize to the community of people with intellectual and cognitive disabilities and choose her words more carefully.”
The most disloyal actual retard that has ever set foot in the Oval Office is trying to lose AND take the Senate with him. Another Roy Moore fiasco so he can blame someone else for his own mess. https://t.co/fIzHtmbOfR
— Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) May 24, 2020
The Frontlines: The R-word was historically used in reference to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and led to many people being locked away in inhumane institutions. The word has been used to devalue disabled lives, and even its flippant use nowadays — like in Coulter’s case — reflects wider societal attitudes about disability that lead to discrimination.
We’ve been here before: This also isn’t the first time Coulter has been called out for using the R-word. In 2016, the media pundit used the R-word in a passage of her book, “In Trump We Trust,” to discuss Trump mocking a disabled reporter, implying Trump wasn’t mocking the reporter specifically, but mocking a “standard” disability.
A Mighty Voice: Our community member, Amber Gale, a mother of a son with Down syndrome, explained why the use of this word is still an issue. “We wouldn’t accept an argument like that to normalize other slurs. Racial slurs, ethnic slurs, slurs about someone’s sexual orientation or their religion — it doesn’t matter where or how you learned it, but it does matter that it’s insulting to the people it impacts. It doesn’t matter how deeply embedded into your mindset and language it is. What matters is that it’s hurtful to an entire population of people.” You can submit your first person story, too.
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Other things to know: If you find Coulter’s language hurtful, you’re not alone. Read more from other disability advocates on the R-word’s harmful impact in the Mighty articles below.
- Help Spread the Word to End Disrespectful Language Toward People With Disabilities
- Why the R-Word Is Still a Problem
- When I Realized How Hurtful This Word Can Be