“The Paralympic Games aren’t tough to watch; they are powering.”
In April 2018, President Donald Trump welcomed roughly 200 U.S. Olympians and Paralympians from the Pyeongchang Winter Games to the White House. During an address to the athletes, he made a comment that appeared to be derogatory to the Paralympic athletes.
“What happened with the Paralympics was so incredible and so inspiring to me,” Trump said. “And I watched — it’s a little tough to watch too much, but I watched as much as I could.”
While some supporters defended Trump’s comments, saying he was too busy to be able to watch the Games, it’s a tough sell given that he once mocked a disabled reporter at a campaign rally in late 2015.
The Paralympic Games took a veiled swipe at Trump for his comments.
Record numbers around the world are not finding @Paralympics tough to watch. Billions of viewers now take in the Paralympics in hundreds of countries around the world. We hope the US President continues to watch and be inspired by the Paralympics. https://t.co/3jhr5Fd8tT— Paralympic Games (@Paralympics) April 28, 2018\n
Paralympic swimmer and advocate-turned-reporter Mallory Weggemann recorded a moving response to Trump’s comments for Now This. In the video, she tells the stories of brave athletes, including a Navy SEAL, whose strength and determination are beyond belief.
“The Paralympic Games aren’t tough to watch; they are powering,” Weggemann said. “They redefine possibility, and they exemplify athleticism at the highest level. So when the president of the United States says that it’s ‘tough to watch too much’ … it is not only dismissive towards individuals with disabilities, it is tone deaf and frankly has opened the door for the most dangerous levels of ignorance from others.”
At the end of the video, Weggemenn redefines what it means to be disabled. “When individuals make passing comments that it’s ‘tough to watch individuals suffer through disability,’ not only is that mindset diminishing to the millions of Americans that live with a disability but it is an ableist mindset thinking that just because someone has differences then they must be suffering.”