Read the NDRN Statement on The Economist’s Ableist Cover

Program News
July 9, 2024

The following is a statement issued by the National Disability Rights Network in response to the July 6th cover of The Economist, a British weekly newspaper that focuses on current affairs, international business, politics, technology, and culture.

The cover of the July 6th issue of The Economist shows a walker with the seal of the President of the United States affixed to the front. Next to it are the words, “No Way to Run a Country.”

Whatever the editors of The Economist thought they were doing here, they failed spectacularly. People with disabilities are not a punchline. Mobility aids like walkers, canes, and wheelchairs are not prisons that confine us or barriers that limit us. They are not a sign of weakness, but of strength. They make it possible for us to achieve our full potential. To participate. To be visible. And, yes, to run for office and serve in government, as many people with all types of disabilities have.

Abraham Lincoln, perhaps our greatest president, experienced depression. Franklin Roosevelt used a wheelchair. Dwight Eisenhower had dyslexia. John F. Kennedy wore a back brace. In more recent times, Texas Governor Greg Abbott uses a wheelchair. Former New York Governor David Paterson is blind. Supreme Court Justice Sonya Sotomayor has diabetes. Are these people limited in their professions by their disabilities?

The answer is no. In its effort to argue that our country needs new leaders, what The Economist did is the exact opposite. With it’s ableist take on mobility aids, they are discouraging a new generation of people with disabilities from running for office and perpetuating the discriminatory view that people with disabilities are not capable leaders. That’s no way to run a magazine.

It is time to recognize that a truly inclusive society values and supports the contributions of all its members. It is time to discard outdated stereotypes and celebrate the strength and resilience that people with disabilities bring to our communities and our country. Only then can we ensure that no potential leader is ever held back by prejudice and ignorance.

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