If you're a person with a disability or you're a family member or friend of a pwd I think you can be heartened by the selection of Dr. Sanjay Gupta to become the new Surgeon General. I say this largely because my friends D.J. and Ralph Savarese appeared last spring on Dr. Gupta's CNN television program and discussed with him the subjects of autism and the associated dynamics of human identity and personal dignity. Dr. Gupta treated these two advocates for people with autism with intelligence and the interview represents one of the best examples of media coverage of autism and disability that I know of.
Americans are by nature curious people. We have a spirit of inquiry in this country that assures we will be able, eventually, to rid ourselves of our equally strong penchant for knee jerk assumptions. The latter are a coefficient of Puritanism–unbridled religiosity makes for the American habit of adopting ideas through the marriage of superstition and a herd mentality.The best book on this subject is the classic study Anti Intellectualism in American Life by Richard Hofstadter.
When the subject is disability its often the case that even smart people in the media will comport themselves with Victorian sentimentality or flat out dunder-headedness. I know something about this on a personal level having been the subject of two lousy interviews on Dateline and Oprah.
Dr. Gupta demonstrated in the interview with D.J. and Ralph respect for people with autism and a strong sense of their respective intellectual gifts. Dr. Gupta is sufficiently curious about the complexities of disabilities to be potentially the first Surgeon General to understand that pwds are important contributors to our nation's life rather than representing merely some kind of outworn social burden.