It was an act so appalling I could not imagine it could be true. I read with horror the news story of how two women with Down syndrome – with limited intellectual ability – were identified as the “suicide bombers” in the February 1 attack in a Baghdad pet market. Let’s be perfectly clear – they were not “suicide” bombers. They were dreadfully and mercilessly murdered as the means to a despicable act of carnage. They were horribly used and exploited simply because their disability made them vulnerable to the manipulation of individuals who have no respect for human life.
Through the years we have read countless stories of how individuals with developmental disabilities are abused, exploited, tortured and reviled. We hear these stories and it compels the majority of people to work even harder to end the stereotypes, discrimination and hatred. This act of senseless cruelty in Baghdad defies all comprehension and compels us to ask “how can a human being do this to another human being?”
People with developmental disabilities are not that different than you or I. They have hopes and dreams, challenges and successes. They have yesterdays, todays and tomorrows. They should not be treated as expendable pawns, or cruelty used at the hands of immoral murderers. The world should be outraged at this senseless and shameful act.
Bruce A. Bird, Ph.D.
The Arc of New Jersey