Kwame Appiah, We Hardly Knew Ye

Cover of Planet of the and dog....

Some months ago I wrote a blog post about the complications of identity politics. In a nutshell I suggested the powerful self affirmations of identity engagement also carry limitations. I’m a disability activist. I don’t see the world entirely through my disability since, for instance, I care about single mothers in poverty who do not have disabilities and whose children do not have disabilities. Strict identity politics can become exclusionary if we allow it.

In my post I quoted from Kwame Anthony Appiah who has written probingly about the pros and cons of identity politics. I didn’t know he’s an ableist who believes the disabled are burdensome, but yes, that’s what he thinks according to his advice column in the NY Times.

Briefly, he writes a fatuous advice column for the Times where he offers advice to the ethically unwashed. Think of Dear Abbey for people who imagine they should have something like a conscience but understand they don’t.

In summary Appiah said that the prospect of dating a disabled person may carry the further prospect of a burden and hence it’s OK to not date a cripple.

The term in rhetoric for the anticipation of objections during an argument is prolepsis. I can reckon you’re argument against me and prepare for it. That all dating or marriages are a proleptic exercise is lost on Appiah who imagines there are non-obstructive relationships instead of complicated ones. One imagines he must also believe in the tooth fairy.

People get sick. They get well. They require help. They don’t require help. But you’ll never know if you think there’s a prospect of trouble on the horizon and avoid humanity. My wife who is not blind married me. I’m blind. She didn’t have to think twice.

Dear Kwame: don’t think twice babe, it’s alright.

Author: skuusisto

Poet, Essayist, Blogger, Journalist, Memoirist, Disability Rights Advocate, Public Speaker, Professor, Syracuse University

One thought on “Kwame Appiah, We Hardly Knew Ye”

  1. The abled among us are temporarily so. That realization changed me for the better. (I hope!) Appiah needs to learn that.


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