Category Archives: Politics

Halfway Back to Normal

Almost there now, the Bundesliga is back and in full swing. Now all I need is for the 2.Bundesliga to resume and everything will be back to normal. Freiburg play their final pre-season friendly this Sunday, their first game back at home. They’ll be playing Amir Abrashi’s former team Grasshopper Club Zurich. It’s their final test before the league resumes and they play Bochum on the 5th February. I’m grateful they’re playing on a Friday the first week back, it’ll take a while to get used to having to get up early on the weekend again.  There won’t be any time to waste in readjusting after that, Freiburg don’t play on a Friday for the next three weeks afterwards. They won’t be playing on a day which isn’t Saturday or Sunday until March when they have a midweek game right at the start of the month. By then everything really will be back to normal, more of the DFB Pokal, the Champions League and the Europa League. Not to mention the international break in March. There will be plenty of games to watch, too many in fact. But then it’s better to have too much to do than too little. One game I am really looking forward to is the clash with RB Leipzig on the 7th March. Once again the tie gets the honour of being the game of the week and thus they play on the Monday night.

Tonight the second weekend of the Rückrunde kicked off with Mainz playing host to Gladbach. Both of them were looking to bounce back from a defeat, Mainz in particular needing a win after only taking one point from their last three games. They certainly worked hard for the three points they collected tonight, keeper Karrius in particular having another excellent game. His save in the 71st minute was nothing short of outstanding, so good was it in fact that I needed to make a GIF of it:

Karius_save_Mainz_v_GladbachHopefully when Freiburg’s season resumes I can get back into a good routine in regards to sleeping patterns. Because in truth this week has been something of a disaster. Not only do I not remember a great deal of it but I’m not happy with how much I’ve gotten done either. I’m sure if I’d gotten more than one good night of sleep along the way I could have done more. I’ve had plenty of ideas story wise and I’ve made lots of notes, I just don’t feel like actually doing anything with them yet. So I’ve only gotten started on one of them, I have nine pages so far of “Hansi’s Busy Day.” Other than that my major achievement of the week is collecting all 100 steel ingots in Fallout 3. I’m also thinking about the video I’ve got planned in celebration of Jogi’s birthday next week, it’s close to completion. I’ve got about a minute left to find pictures for. The one for Hansi’s birthday is already done ironically, given his birthday is towards the end of the month.

Getting that finished is my number one priority, everything else can be dealt with afterwards. I know I should be trying to think a little more long term but it’s just not possible right now. This week getting dressed has been enough of a challenge, I’m not looking for extra ways to put pressure on myself. I’m trying not to beat myself up about the fact that I don’t think I’ve gotten out of bed before 10:00am this week. The one day I know I was up in the morning doesn’t count because I’d been up all night, so it was a question of still being up rather than getting up.

I think I may have done a little too much last week and gotten a little too excited about the return of the Bundesliga. I probably should have skipped seeing The Hateful Eight. I’m certainly paying the price for it now.

The one advantage to being too tired to do anything means I haven’t really talked to anyone. Which in theory should mean I have nothing to obsess over right now. But I do thanks to the internet and my own impulsiveness. Though I’m trying not to see if that way. Instead of focusing on it as just a mistake to obsess over I’m trying to see it as something I can learn from.  Whether I did anything wrong or not I don’t know and I have no way of being sure. I have to make my peace with that. I did what I did and there’s no going back on it. Working out if I’ve done something wrong or not and just what that might be is not what I’m trying to work on. What I’m trying to work on is that sometimes the answers you seek aren’t there, sometimes you just have to let it go.

One thing I can’t stop thinking about is an article someone mentioned online, about asylum seekers being made to wear wristbands in order to receive food and being threatened with being reported to the authorities if they didn’t comply. Apparently the practice has been stopped now and the company in question has apologized. I find that of little comfort because they only did that after it was reported on in the media. If it hadn’t been brought to their attention no doubt they would have continued with the practice. Whilst the idea in itself is somewhat troublesome it’s not what I found most troubling about the whole thing. What bothered me the most is the comments I read online. It’s troublesome that many people don’t see a problem with it. Not only do some people not see a problem with visually identifying people in such a way but even suggesting they should just be grateful they’re being helped at all.

It’s troubling they can’t see how dangerous it is, that separating people out that way is never a good thing and can easily lead to other more troublesome practices. I found it disturbing personally because of another similar idea a while back in relation to disabled people. A local politician got this harebrained scheme about how disabled people, particularly those who don’t have visible disabilities should wear some kind of identification to identify them as such. When they were of course roundly criticized for it they claimed not to see the problem, claiming that it would be helpful for other people to know, like if they were in a situation they needed help and couldn’t tell people they had a disability or that they required assistance. I don’t buy their explanation, not least because what they describe already exists. I have something to serve that very purpose, it’s an autism alert card which has on it all the relevant details plus emergency contact information should it be required. The point is it’s a card I keep in my pocket, I use it when I choose to. I don’t wear it round my neck or have it pinned to my jacket for everyone else to see. Because in no world should anyone have to do that, to tell everyone they encounter about their disability or that you even have one. It’s your right whether you chose to disclose it or not, you don’t have to tell everyone you meet. Their crazy idea would take away that choice.

Not to mention it could have disastrous consequences. In a perfect world no-one would get picked or on or pushed around for any reason. Meanwhile back in the real world ideas like these wristbands and wearing identification of that sort can be a short cut to getting more attention than you’d like drawn to you. The last thing you need is another reason to stand out. I know that from personal experience at school and college. Whatever school I’ve gone to I’ve found that being associated in any way with the special needs class puts a target on your back that it’s impossible to get rid of. Personally I’m not bothered about that or ashamed of it any way, I wasn’t then and I’m not now. I really don’t care and if someone was willing to judge me on that basis then they’re not worth knowing anyway. What I do care about is getting hassled.

The other reason I can’t stop thinking about it is because of a book I just finished reading called “Ajax: The Dutch, the War.” It tells the story of Dutch football throughout WW2 and beyond, it also looks at the relationship between certain clubs, the role Antisemitism still plays in Dutch football and how political changes in Holland affect such things. One of the most interesting topics the book addresses is whether or not the Dutch were good or bad during the war. Like other countries in Europe they had a system set up to deal with collaborators and to assign appropriate punishment to those deemed to have worked with or for the Germans, particularly when they didn’t have to. One of the myths about Holland during WW2 is that they tried hard to save their Jewish population and also that the population was heavily involved with the Resistance. In actuality the Dutch were surprisingly efficient about co-operating with the Germans and their efforts to help got them a special mention by the Germans in correspondence regarding the operation. Despite the reality the myth was somehow propagated that  the Dutch were good. In truth the majority of the Dutch population was not particularly good or bad. For most people life simply carried on as normal.

It’s a fascinating read and I’ve learnt a lot from it, not just about the Dutch clubs and the culture of Dutch football but about politics in Holland too. Also I learnt a few new things about WW2, particularly in relation to Denmark. I’d heard the oft repeated myth that King Christian wore the Jewish star in solidarity with the Jews. It’s a myth because the star was never imposed in Denmark. But there is a bit of truth in the myth. What actually happened was that King Christian said he would wear it in the event it was introduced. Trivia aside there was another interesting point the book made. Denmark saved the majority of it’s Jewish population, helping them escape across the Sound to neutral Sweden. And the ones they didn’t get out of the country they still helped, making sure they stayed at Theresienstadt instead of being sent to a death camp. But Danes don’t like to talk about it or make a big deal about it. The book mentions a quote from the first major book written on the subject which praises the “special character and moral stature of the Danish people.”

Unsurprisingly Danes were embarrassed by that kind of talk,  it is quite over the top. What bothers me about it is the idea that saving someone makes the Danes or anyone else special for doing that. The idea that helping out a fellow human being is in some way special or remarkable. It should be normal, but I know that’s a very naive way of seeing things.

Getting back to the point, the author mentioned the Danes to make a comparison. His point is that the Dutch for years told a false story of having done all they could to help the Jews, yet the Danes did actually do it but they didn’t like to talk about it. In a way I do understand why the Dutch or anyone else would have liked to tell themselves they and their fellow countrymen did something to help. It’s certainly more palatable than the truth. To admit to yourself that you didn’t even try to do anything. From that perspective it makes sense someone might not want to be honest about the past. A review I read criticized the book for being too angry and too over-critical of the Dutch. I don’t agree with that at all, but if the author were a little angry I think it’s understandable. After all why wouldn’t someone be angry about what happened during WW2, I know it made me angry to read about policeman willingly helping German soldiers rounding up people. Not because they were threatened, not them or their families. Nor were they threatened with being sent to a camp or to work in Germany. No, the only punishment which awaited them was losing their holiday time. If that doesn’t make you angry then I think you should question why that is.

At a Loose End

Now I have even more time to fill, the game was cancelled about an hour and a half before kick off. I have no idea how to feel, part of me is strangely relieved they can’t play. Another part of me wants nothing more than to be watching the game right now but I think that’s just a reaction to things not going as I expected them to. Other than watching the news I have no idea what to do. But I’m not sure that’s such a good idea, whilst I need to know what’s going on I feel like I don’t want to know. That knowing as little as possible is the best thing to do. One thing I do know that is some comfort is that the team was nowhere near the stadium, they were on their way there when all of this was going on, that’s something.

I don’t know, none of this makes any sense. I was worried about something going wrong, I didn’t really want them to play and now they aren’t. But I’m not happy about it, whilst a part of me feels relieved it’s just a small part of me. The rest of me feels something quite different, maybe anger or more likely fear. Yesterday I felt nothing and now I feel everything, or at least I did up until a few moments ago. Ever since I’ve gotten up I haven’t felt right, eating anything has proved impossible, the prospect of doing so makes me feel sick. In fact everything does. I should be glad in one way, not only did I feel upset and know it but I actually showed it. Now I have yet another football shirt stained with tears though for quite different reasons this time. Though what happened to the other shirt doesn’t even compare to this. The shirt in question is Freiburg’s home shirt from last season, the one I was wearing on the final day of the season when they got relegated, in all of places Hannover. Which was originally the reason I didn’t want the game to be played there. But none of that matters now.

I just got this shirt, spent a lot of money on it and had Matze’s name and number put on the back. Now I’m not sure I ever want to wear it again. It’s been in my possession for just four days, I’ve worn it once and I feel like I want to put it away and never see it again.

Before today all I wanted was to stop thinking about Friday night, I didn’t want it to happen like this. I didn’t want it to be replaced by an even bigger worry, an even scarier situation to confront. Football is my safe place, it’s just a game after all, it’s the one thing that makes sense. And now it too is corrupted by the evil and stupidity of humans. Maybe I’m not really capable of grasping any of this, I mean I have trouble understanding people’s motivations in everyday situations let alone something like this. But how can you hate someone so much that you are willing to hurt innocent people, there are people I hate, some for very good reasons but I could never even contemplate actually doing harm to them.

That film I watched yesterday Naked Among Wolves turned out to be oddly prescient. Who are we if we can’t even protect a three year old, is the question the prisoner asked himself and them. Who are we if you can’t even go to a football match without something like this happening. But then thinking about Syria I start to think about it a little differently. We take for granted being able to live everyday life in a state of relative security, it’s an alien concept to Westerners, the idea of being in danger everyday, not knowing if you’re going to come home or not. Thus you take things for granted, and when things like this do happen it’s even more of a shock. I don’t really know what my point is, or if I even have one. Thinking about all this I remember a book I read a few years ago about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. One of the conclusions the author came to was that Europe and the US will have to in the future get used to the same kind of way Israelis are used to living, that of heightened security and an increased military presence in everyday aspects of life. I thought he was an idiot, that accepting such a thing is completely idiotic. Why would you accept such a thing,  what’s the point in standing up to terrorists only to give up your freedoms that way. He can’t be right, can he, that such things will become normal, that we’ll have to accept it?

There are people in the middle east for whom such occurrences are normal. Living in terror is normal. And some of those situations are created or at least allowed to happen by the European powers. Syria is just the latest in a long line of human catastrophes. People are being killed and are willing to risk their lives to escape, and yet instead of doing everything they can to help the European powers are squabbling over who has to take how many refugees.

I’m reading a book at the moment about the aftermath of WW2 and one of the topics it covers is the role myth-making played in it. The way many of the European countries presented a false picture of solidarity after the war, as if the population had stood united as one for the entirety of the war. They chose to overlook some of their more shameful attitudes and actions during the war. Like the fact that in England for example, many people were opposed to letting fleeing Jews into England and that some people didn’t disagree with the Nazis policies on such matters. When you learn about it in school they don’t teach that part, they talk about the kindertransports and about the numbers of refugees who came here and how some of them went to Palestine afterwards. What you learn at school gives you the impression that England went to war on behalf of Poland, that they were standing up for them and for oppressed peoples. And somehow some people come away with the view that England and later the US went into the war to stop the persecution of the Jews and other minorities. Which of course could not be further from the truth.

And once again I have little idea what my point was meant to be. I think I’m rambling quite a bit more than usual. I don’t know if I meant to make a point about the self righteous ways of the major European countries, of how they only claim to stand for things such as tolerance and equality but in actuality practice something rather different. I don’t know, I think when you don’t know what you’re saying you should stop talking, at least about any of that anyway.

Each time I wake up I keep thinking it’s Friday, whether I think it’s this Friday or last Friday I don’t know. Both would be logical, if it’s last Friday then it’s like it never happened, like as if the day can happen again but without all the bad stuff. And if it’s this Friday then it will all be over, the Bundesliga will resume, everything will go back to normal. Of course it won’t, things will happen as they always do but it won’t feel normal, it never does the first weekend back even without all this. Not until next week could things begin to feel normal again.

With there being no game to watch and me not knowing what to do, things have settled down into a weird kind of quiet. I’m not upset anymore, I feel a little calmer, at least I’m not the twitchy nervous wreck I was a short while ago. But I still don’t feel right, I’m tired and hungry and I feel light headed. I know I need to eat, that it’ll stop me from feeling so light headed but everything I try to eat is wrong. I don’t want to be awake because I don’t want to think about any of this, but I don’t want to sleep because I’m worried about what I’ll wake up to.

At least France’s game went ahead and there were no problems there:

Wembley – French colours 1 Wembely - French colours 2

Friday the 13th

This is obviously not how I expected the night to be ending. Instead of making the Jogi highlights I’m up watching the news and trying to make sense of what’s going on. I had no idea anything had happened until the game ended. I don’t exactly make a habit of going online whilst a game is on, not a live one anyway. It didn’t occur to me that there was anything amiss about the explosion heard in the 16th minute of the game. Firecrackers and flares and that sort of thing are common occurrences at football matches so I didn’t think anything of it.

It’s a terrifying situation to be in, there really are no words. Anything you say it just doesn’t seem to be enough. One thing I can say is the some of the responses both online and from certain news outlets are extremely disappointing. And that’s putting it mildly, though whilst they are disappointing it is not at all surprising. It’s just completely illogical, first of all to start pointing fingers at anyone when everything is still so murky. But secondly to immediately start accusing the refugees of being responsible. Do they not understand, those are the people fleeing the kinds of people who did this.

Such a thing happening should result in people having some kind of empathy with them, shouldn’t it? After all people in Syria and other war torn countries have to deal with these kinds of things every day, seeing the horror of such things happen in your own country or in neighboring countries should make people realise that they can’t ignore such a crisis any longer.

There’s a lot of different things being said, a lot of conflicting statements about many aspects of what happened. I’m not sure if this is correct but I heard on the news that Paris is under curfew and that such a thing has not taken place since 1944, in other words when there were Nazis on French soil. Whether it’s true or not it’s worth thinking about. The fact that there hasn’t been a loss of life like this on French soil since then. Europe didn’t do enough back then and they aren’t doing enough now. They can’t ignore what’s going on just because it’s happening far away, ignoring it and the part they’ve played in the situation is no longer an option.

I didn’t mean to write that much, in fact I didn’t know what I meant to write at all. I just felt like I had to write something. I couldn’t sleep anyway, not without knowing what’s going on but all the more so since about two hours ago some idiot let off some fireworks. There’s no reason for me personally to be afraid, nothing ever happens here, it’s a sleepy little place, nothing really happens. Didn’t stop that from scaring the living daylights out of me however.

I’ll be uploading the Jogi highlights and pictures from the game maybe later today or tomorrow. It doesn’t seem appropriate to do so now. Though for obvious reasons I won’t be uploading the full match as planned, it doesn’t feel right to do that.

I know I should say something, like I’m thinking of all the people affected right now or something along those lines, but such things always sound stupid when I say or write them so I’ll refrain from doing so. Besides it’s obvious I’m thinking of them and what’s happened, I wouldn’t have written this otherwise or still be awake at almost 5:00am.

Connect the Dots

Connect the Dots

Open your nearest book to page 82. Take the third full sentence on the page, and work it into a post somehow.

“I do have a choice,” said Pato. – The book in question is The Ministry of Special Cases by Nathan Englander.

Do you have a choice Pato? Does anyone? You wanted to keep your books at any cost, and that may prove to be your downfall. The truth is they would have come for you even if your father had burned all of your books. It’s not just owning the books that made you suspect, it’s what you know and what you think. Ideas are the real threat. And they can’t burn those, try as they might. Are you right, does your idealism trump your father’s pragmatism?

People like to believe that they have a choice, that they have free will because then they can take credit for their successes. And this way they can blame people whose lives haven’t gone so well, saying that people are responsible for their own circumstances, good or bad. If only it were that simple, if only it were a question of choosing to do the right things. Being told that you only have to make the right decisions is of little comfort when the deck is stacked against you before you even get to the table. When you simply have to make the best of what you have. When the things you want to achieve are always so far away you’re always going to be merely dreaming of them.

In about four months there’s going to be an election here, I always say that it’s important to vote, that it’s important to engage with the democratic process. An election is meant to be about choosing the person or party that best represents your views. Except in this election all the three parties look very similar.

Choice, what choice? The two parties currently in government are obviously not an option, I would not have ever voted for them before, let alone now. The third choice is an illusory one. They offer no real change, they will not commit to correcting the errors of the current government. Of course they won’t, after all they started some of these so called “reforms.”

It’s not easy to make the argument that voting is important when there is so little to choose from, when the parties are making a mockery of the process. Yet when I look at certain fringe parties who hold some very scary views, I see very strongly the reason for voting. Anything to keep idiots like them out of power is something worth doing.  You may not be able to make the choies you want to make in other ways, the choices you want simply aren’t there, at least not yet, but at the very least you can do that.

In denial

There are many people out there who simply refuse to believe that the people the government say they are protecting are the people they are hurting the most. And they aren’t the worst of it, even worse are the ones who unashamedly make completely out of line comments and repeat the kind of nonsense propaganda that would be most at home on the comments section of certain right-wing newspapers. The usual nonsense about how much are the people in the article spending on sky tv and other such luxuries. Like someone struggling to feed their children has any money for things like that. I don’t understand how and why people would be so malicious. I understand the mechanics of turning people against each other, the book The book The Coming of The Third Reich was most instrumental in this. As is watching the working poor being pitted against disabled and unemployed people right now. None of it helps to understand why.

http://www.cafamily.org.uk/countingthecosts – these seem to be one of the few organisations that are actually doing something about it. The big charities are too close to the government. But then they cosied up to them in relation to the work programme (and only spoke out against it when it was evident they weren’t getting a contract) so it makes sense, if they don’t care much about disabled adults, why would they care about disabled children.

But it’s all ok, because no-one is really starving to death, just going hungry. And that’s ok with some people, even though it’s not just children going hungry but potentially disabled children. How low your standards are, as long as no-one is starving to death, you have no complaints. I’d like to think that a first world country has higher standards and expectations of itself than that.

I can’t believe that anyone believed the prime minister when he said that he would protect disabled people because he knew all about the difficulties and issues they faced. He doesn’t know anything about life in the real world, he doesn’t know what it’s like to have to not only deal with a myriad of different appointments but to have to worry about how you are going to pay to get to all of them. Nor does would he know what it’s like when you know your child needs something but no-one will pay for it, it’s a little easier when have deep pockets of your own to cover everything. I’m particularly bitter about this one, the money issue. Time and time again something gets recomended,  for example speech therapy for one of my brothers, but they have a good reason as for why they can’t pay for it. I think if they spent as much actually helping people as they did finding reasons to deny them services, they might actually do something useful.

The real kicker for me was when they said adult services wouldn’t be able to provide anything because he has a “normal IQ”. Seventy is what they say is too high, never mind that he’s autistic and has a whole host of issues related to that. What infuriates me about this is that a few years ago they used his “learning difficulties” to justify a special school placement instead of an ASD unit within a mainstream school. I’m not opposed to special schools, I think they have their place, but I didn’t and don’t think that a special school that is for general learning difficulties is the right place for him. An ASD special school, that would not be so objectionable, but of course they wouldn’t want to pay for an out of area placement, not if they can’t help it. So when it suits them you have learning difficulties, and then you don’t anymore. I wish I was the one making these decisions.

Never mind that it’s not legal for them to deny services this way. But then from what I’ve read this week about social services and the NAS, I’m kind of glad they have nothing to offer. I think it’s better to go it alone. The further you stay away from those people, the better off you will be.

I wonder what do they get out of it, denying people services and equipment they need. I mean it’s their job to help people, so why do they spend so much of their time hindering people?

Numbers rant

Spending some time reading Bundesliga statistics got me thinking about something numbers related that infuriates me (and did so earlier today). It bothers me how people can make assertions about disability benefits either citing false or made up statistics or not providing any at all and getting away with it. And they always pick the same tactics, like the old “most people on disability benefits are claiming because of a bad back/depression/substance misuse problems” and that most of them have conditions that could or will improve soon.

The reason of course they don’t cite statistics is because if they did, they would show their claims to be false. I did bother to look them up and out of 2,473,420 claimants, 2.2% claim because of a “primary disabling condition of alcohol misuse”, that is 53, 880.

And claimants with a “primary disabling condition of drugs misuse” is even lower, 1.4%. 34, 210 out of 2,473,420

“43% of claimants have mental/behavioural disorders as their primary condition.”
I remember seeing online a table that broke down the ESA numbers by each kind of disorder, with a separate category for different mental illnesses, autism, learning disabilities and so on.  But I can’t remember where I saw it or find it. The problem with government statistics I could find is that they don’t provide a breakdown, just the unhelpful line above.  It’s unhelpful because it puts learning disabilities and mental illness together when they don’t belong in the same category. If I remember correctly, the biggest claimant group is people with learning disabilties, in other words, people with long term conditions.
I know it’s a pointless thing to be ranting about, not even correcting these people and showing them the numbers works. They just keep on with their denial and “everyone knows someone who is pretending.” They believe what they want to believe.
The phrase disabilty benefits also bugs me, sometimes people themselves don’t know exactly what they are referring to with people often mixing up DLA and ESA, and many people misunderstanding the purpose of DLA and how it works.

Dressing rooms and political secrets

Golden Key

You’ve been given a key that can open one building, room, locker, or box to which you don’t normally have access. How do you use it, and why?

Naturally my first (and entirely selfish) thought goes to die Mannschaft, I mean who wouldn’t want to witness scenes like this in person:

Jogi clipping8Die Mannschaft clipping

My real choice would be to use it to gain access to the office of a certain government minister who is intent on making the lives of disabled people in this country a living hell. I would use it to find out what he has on the party leader that allows him to stay in office, he must have something on them, he’s so incompetent and such a political liability, he’s still around for a reason. And also to thwart his plans for the rest of his evil machinations.

I know it says a building, room, locker or box but if you had a key that could unlock absolutely anything, I would want to use it on people, on their minds, to find out why such divisive and hate filled politics appeals to them. To find out what it is that makes people turn on each other like that, and more specifically, what is it that makes people turn on the weakest in society.

Performance Measurement

What the hell that is supposed to mean in this context I don’t know, I know what the words mean, but I don’t know what they are meant to mean in relation to people in my situation. Anyone familiar with the details of this government’s policy towards anyone who has the temerity to be disabled or unemployed will know full well what the words mean. And what an invasion of privacy it is. Not just that but did they really have to schedule it for my birthday? Not that I’m doing anything to celebrate (I don’t like parties and don’t know enough people to invite to one, plus I like to keep the day as same as all the rest, just another Thursday) but they don’t know that. I don’t want to rearrange it, why delay the pain. Just deal with it now, get it out-of-the-way as soon as possible.

I find their language very chilling, somewhat dehumanizing. It’s just such an odd phrase.  Officially they are just there to review your entitlement, but that could be done over the phone or by checking the paperwork. Some people think they have a hidden agenda and I tend to agree. They are there to see how you live, to see if it looks like you are committing fraud. To see if you look too “healthy.” Well it should be a short visit, any personal questions won’t get much of a response from me, there’s really nothing to talk about. My social life is close to non-existent, I rarely step outside more than once a week and I spend most of my time enclosed in the security of my bedroom.

I remember joking around about their reviews previously, saying how stupid it is that they want to check that you’re still autistic. I wish I could remember what the other person said, I  know it was very funny, I just can’t remember it.

Disability envy

That there is a phrase to describe such a thing is just wrong.  How could such a thing exist? It’s something that’s on my mind because of an article I read about how the government had considered cutting ESA by about £30 to bring it to a level which would make it on par with the rate for JSA. A move to save money and pay for the promised tax cuts no doubt. Also, if they were the same amount, that could maybe lead to them arguing that there is no need for two separate systems, that the two should be merged somehow, a way to get rid of that part of ESA perhaps. I wouldn’t put anything past this government.

The usual comments were made, why should disabled people have more money then unemployed people, JSA should be more than ESA, and here’s a particularly stupid example, losing your job is more of a shock and more difficult to deal with than becoming sick or disabled according to one idiot. But I saved the best till last, there always has to be one idiot who has to show that they are even stupider than their predecessors, according to this idiot, they would be better off if they quit their job and if they became disabled.

These people with their ignorance are so infuriating it’s nearly impossible to put together a rational argument. I can’t understand why you would be jealous of someone who is so much more limited in what they can do than you are.

For what it’s worth, I do agree that the level of JSA is not adequate, but that won’t be changed by picking on disabled people. ESA is more than JSA and rightly so, an unemployed person could wake up tomorrow and find a job, do you think a disabled person is going to wake up and find that they were cured in the night? As well as the issue of discrimination in regards to employment needing to be taken seriously, people have to recognise that there are people who regardless of what they want to be able to do and regardless of what society thinks they should  be able to do, that are always going to be unable to work.

Until society gets serious about finding ways to include certain groups of people, nothing is going to change. I know of people in real life who are most likely autistic, I see them get passed over for job after job, even after doing work trials, they still don’t get hired. Just because they come across a little differently, because they don’t join in workplace banter. But they are good, hard workers. Honest, decent and loyal people. And no-one will hire them.

People talk about being more accepting and tolerating of differences, but it’s just that, talk. Lots of people think autistic characters on TV are cool, like Saga in The Bridge and Sherlock (if you think he’s autistic that is, I’m on the fence about that myself). They don’t think so in real life, especially when they find out you aren’t a genius detective, or really a genius at anything.

They list the things like they are perks, like it’s worth dealing with everything you have to deal with just to get a little bit of extra money or to get a travel pass or a cinema card. Yet if they were actually in your position, they would see that the extra money isn’t all for fun and games, that it’s not as much as they think and they’d no doubt be horrified when they find out that it doesn’t cover everything.

I personally would trade all of the so-called perks I get, if it meant I could get a good night’s sleep or if I didn’t need to have my whole week set out on a schedule, or if I could be interested in something without worrying about the possibilty of me becoming fixated on it to the point where nothing else in the universe may as well exist. Most of all I would trade all of it in order to feel as attached to a person in real life as I have done for any of the fictional characters I”ve been obsessed with over the years.

It’s not just with grown ups this kind of stuff happens with, thinking about all of this made me recall an incident from school. I got taken out of a regular class for one-to-one, this wasn’t the first time it had happened so it’s not like they weren’t used to such an occurrence, but it was the first time anyone commented on it. It baffled me at the time,  I couldn’t make sense of what they meant. As I was leaving the room, a person who I wouldn’t have expected to say something like this, made a comment about how come you get to leave, why do you get that. I don’t know to interpret it as them implying that only less intelligent people have special needs and thus get one-to-one or in a way which relates to the subject at hand. Either is pretty insulting. The incident also baffled me because the person in question once misunderstood something I said to someone else about a documentary about a disabled person and then proceeded to lecture me about being mean about disabled people. Hypocrite much?

Another baffling thread to add to the narrative is that shortly after this,  sometime in the week after, this person and their gang of friends surrounded me and started throwing questions at me about autism, asking why one person in particular talked with an American accent and about certain other noticeable differences/quirks. I didn’t answer any of their questions, not because I was overwhelmed with them throwing questions at me, but because it didn’t feel right, talking about other people’s autism and their difficulties. If they had questions about that, they should have asked those people themselves. But they wouldn’t do that would they, just like how they didn’t come straight out and ask me those questions, because they knew it wasn’t right to do so. Maybe they thought I would be naive enough to answer their questions about other people.

I can recall another comment about the same topic, from someone else who would be described as having special needs (they had ADHD and Tourette’s), they too questioned why should you get one-to-one, saying that “I need it more than you do.” A ridiculous assertion from a person with a statement of SEN and a full-time teaching assistant, not for academic reasons as they were always quick to point out, I suppose they were confused that I was getting it when I had better grades than they did in most subjects. Yet what they didn’t know of course is that my grades were all over the map, excellent in some places and terrible in others, nor did they have any idea about the work that went into those grades, or that most of the work that went into getting said grades took place outside of normal lessons.

Non-people

When I started this I decided not to write anything about politics and I’m going to stick to that in the sense that I’m not going to write directly about the thing that’s really bothering me, I don’t want all that negative stuff connected with this. But I can still write about it, even whilst I’m talking about Nazi Germany and Communism in Eastern Europe.

There’s not exactly one thing that got me thinking about this, its more a culmination of several comments from many articles on similar topics. This one got me thinking more about it because of a book I just finished reading, Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe. The comment in question was on article about Nazi Germany and the person was arguing that there is something unique in the German character that made them predisposed to fascism and to carry out such atrocities of the Holocaust.  I don’t agree with that, I don’t think one nationality can be or is more evil or predisposed to such things more than another nationality. If it was, surely that would make things easier, you could study them, learn what was different about them and use that to prevent anyone from becoming like them. The truth is all humans are capable of such things. That’s what makes it so scary, the idea that anyone could be capable of that. It’s easier to distance oneself, to say that you are nothing like them, to act like they belong to a different species. And the argument that there is something unique in the German character that predisposes them to such things is overlooking a major flaw, the Holocaust was not carried out only be Germans but by people of many different and disparate nationalities. And atrocities of a similar nature were and are carried out long after the Holocaust.

The connection to what’s bothering me is that people think nothing like the Holocaust can never happen again, and that as long as people aren’t being rounded up into camps, then no-one is being persecuted. To them, being deprived of a livable income, a place to live and potentially being forced to look for a job when you know you are too sick or unable to do that, doesn’t count. Being told by politicians, the media and people on the internet and real life that you are a burden, that you cost the country too much money, that you aren’t worth anything, to them that doesn’t count either.

Like I didn’t feel helpless and useless enough before, I don’t need other people reminding me of that. They say stupid things like you can do it if you try harder and that you should be more positive. And that you should focus on what you can do and not on what you can’t. Well that’s very difficult to do, when everything around you is so negative and focused exactly on what you can’t do. It’s difficult when no-one recognises the things you can do and when they are used against you as proof that you aren’t really disabled. It’s a ridiculous catch 22 situation and I can only think that it was designed deliberately to make you insane.

I never felt like part of this country anyway, I’ve never felt in any sense that I belonged here. In truth, I’ve always hoped to find out that I wasn’t human at all. Now I really want that to be true. The trouble is, I know such a thing could and is happening in other places. It’s a human thing. In times of crisis people turn on each other, and those at the bottom of the social ladder are always the first targets.

Someone once expressed the opinion to me that people with autism who are so-called “high-functioning” are doubly feared, because we are both able and disabled and that confuses people and they don’t know how to respond to us. It’s an interesting thought. I think it probably does confuse people, how someone can be so able in one area and so spectacularly helpless in another. How a person can grasp complex ideas, hold their own in an argument and yet be unable to do what others perceive as a simple task, such as ordering food in a restaurant or being able to tell left from right. I think it also may bother them that it’s difficulty to pity us, I know I personally don’t allow such things. It’s probably relevant to note I’m generally uncomfortable with the expression of any feelings, be they positive or negative. Compliments, empathy, sympathy, all of that stuff makes me uncomfortable.

They can’t patronisingly pat you on the head and say “poor thing” or something like that. That seems to the only way some people know how to relate to disabled people, whether they be physically or mentally disabled. They seem to be unable to conceieve of us as individuals, with our own personalities, interests and flaws. The last one is particularly important, I’m forever reminding people that I shouldn’t get a free pass for making out of line comments, sure I could have misunderstood a situation and may require some guidance or equally I could just be being a jerk. People with autism are capable of that, just like everyone else.

Seeing how quickly people’s attitudes can change is scary, as is seeing otherwise intelligent people repeating the propaganda they read on the front of the newspaper without even stopping to analyse and question it. That experience would have been less terrifying had the person in question not been a doctor. Not because doctors are all so intelligent, I know from personal experience that is not true, its terrifying because you are listening to someone who took an oath that says “thou shalt do no harm” attempting to justify forcing sick and disabled people into indefinite forced workfare.

Many people say comparisons to Nazi Germany are absurd and insulting, not to mention inaccurate. Such comparisons are not inaccurate when one looks at how certain groups of people are demonized. All of the statistics and amounts of how much it costs for a disabled person to live independently, or indeed to live at all bear an uncomfortable similarity to those infamous Nazi posters: “This person suffering from hereditary defects costs the community 60,000 Reichsmark during his lifetime. Fellow German, that is your money too.”

Equally disturbing is the insistence that work is good for all people, that a person is worthless and doesn’t contribute anything to society unless they have a job. Is that all people are? Economic production units? There to work until they drop, to make the rich even richer? Is that all that counts? I have nothing against work, or being employed, it forms a vital part of my plan, but I deeply reject the idea that a person should define themselves by what they do, that that’s all that counts.

On the subject of whether one nationality more than another is more likely to do such things, this quotation from Iron Curtain talking about how the Communists attempted to destroy the elements that make up civil society sums it up well:

“Their success reveals an unpleasant truth about human nature: if enough people are sufficiently determined, and if they are backed by adequate resources and force, then they can destroy ancient and apparently permanent legal, political, educational and religious institutions, sometimes for good. And if civil society could be so deeply damaged in nations as disparate, as historic and as culturally rich as those of Eastern Europe, then it can be similarly damaged anywhere. If nothing else, the history of postwar Stalinization proves just how fragile ‘civilization’ can turn out to be.”