Saturday, November 25, 2006

A few last words about Gallaudet

As always, the amazing Michael Chorost has a well-written, deeply insightful and deeply felt take on the situation. He was there on campus when the decision to rescind the offer of the the presidency to Jane Fernandes was made. Head over to his blog and check it out.

Meanwhile, I feel that I have to address some points made by Chris (on the comments section) and Dr. Davis (in an article that Chris linked) and others. Before I do, I have to admit to not knowing all the details of the situation in DC. I’m getting my news about Gallaudet from newspapers and blogs, all of which have their own agendas. The Washington Post, for one, has been eager to paint the controversy as a question of Dr. Fernandes deaf bona fides, as opposed to a question of her leadership capabilities. Which probably isn’t accurate but might sell more papers.

Regardless, my position remains the same: as long as the focus of the deaf community is on what is deafness, the underlying problems will never disappear. Because no matter how that questioned is answered, the answer will be incomplete.

I’m writing a book about my experiences as a Peace Corps volunteer in Africa that, among other things, is about reaching the limits to the question: what is deafness. In Africa, I stumbled upon a place in which I completely transcend the deafness question; in the rural bush, Deaf and Not-Deaf didn’t matter. I was a tall white man living with tens of thousands of malnourished Africans focused on their next meal. That I was deaf did not compute. Villagers died. Villagers killed other people. Cholera came through and took away scores of children. We buried friends, strangers, family.

So if we work out the issue of discrimination and disability, then what? I believe that it is only when we reach the point of questioning everything that life’s true treasure comes forth.

Until then, we’re hunting for nickels in the dirt.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

There was a great article by a deaf person named Paotie. The article is very well-written and informative. The comments section below that article shows more, to.

I am learning new things everyday. We need more people like Josh and Paoitie to write about these things.

A Mom

1:41 PM  

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