Modern GOP has its own disabilities

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This idea may be on the perverse side, but the sooner the Antichrist reveals himself, the sooner the Republican Party can stop holding the rest of the world hostage to its irrational fears and superstitions.

This week, GOP senators topped themselves in the paranoid sweepstakes by voting down the United Nations treaty on the rights of the disabled. Some of them argued with straight faces that an international treaty calling upon citizens to treat the disabled with fairness is an assault on American sovereignty.

Ratified by 155 nations with human rights records as disparate as China and Russia on one hand and France and Britain on the other, the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities was modeled on the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

As the ADA has done for this country over two decades, the U.N. treaty would establish a model of care and accommodation based on our national experience. It would set the bar to an equivalent level for the world's 650 million disabled people.

The U.N. treaty affirms the dignity of disabled people while reiterating their value to our communities. It calls upon all signatory nations to uphold the principle of non-discrimination against citizens with mental and physical handicaps.

What's so nefarious about making reasonable accommodations in the workplace and in public life for people with disabilities? Ask the 38 Senate Republicans who scuttled the vote by denying the unanimous Democratic supporters and seven fellow Republicans the two-thirds super-majority needed for ratification.

"I do not support the cumbersome regulations and potentially overzealous organizations with anti-American biases that infringe upon American society," croaked Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., a longtime subscriber to the theory that the U.N. -- besides being the devil's footstool -- is a front for a trans-global conspiracy to undermine our independence while sapping our precious bodily fluids.

Instead of viewing the treaty as a validation of "American exceptionalism" when it comes to the treatment of the disabled, 38 Republicans detected a back-door threat to American sovereignty, the home school movement and the authority of families dealing with disabilities.

"Who should make the critical health care decisions for a child with a disability?" Rick Santorum wrote this week in The Daily Beast, congratulating his former Senate colleagues. "A well-meaning, but faceless and distant United Nations bureaucrat, or a parent who has known, loved, and cared for the child since before birth?"

The level of mendacity in practically every paragraph of the former Pennsylvania senator's piece is breathtaking. Instead of dealing with the U.N. treaty's benign reality, the runner-up in the Republican primaries constructs a funhouse mirror world of demonic intent where "too much power" is given to the U.N. and an "unelected, unaccountable committee tasked with overseeing its implementation" takes "power and responsibility away from our elected representatives" and "parents and caregivers."

Mr. Santorum then has the gall to write: "I also oppose [the U.N. treaty] because our nation has been the worldwide leader when it comes to protecting the disabled. We should be telling the U.N., not the other way around, how to ensure dignity and respect for the disabled."

At the root of the Republican rebellion against even symbolic support of an initiative that the rest of this fractious world can get behind is a suspicion that the United Nations is inherently evil and moving rapidly toward consolidating a one-world government under a supernaturally inspired Napoleon.

Many in the GOP believe absurd urban myths about black helicopters, the imposition of radical international climate change laws that will destroy capitalism and the occupation of America by U.N. peacekeepers after all of our guns have been confiscated.

Even losing the 2012 election hasn't tempered the GOP's penchant for paranoia. Because a black, "Kenyan-born" community organizer with a Muslim name out-hustled both a Vietnam war hero and a wildly successful turnaround artist for the presidency of the United States, the identity of the Antichrist is clear to many Republican faithful.

Still, there's always a chance that President Barack Obama is just a prelude to the real Antichrist, who will most likely rule the world from a demonic wheelchair somewhere in the bowels of the U.N.

tonynorman

Tony Norman: tnorman@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1631. Twitter: @TonyNormanPG.


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