The Olympics: In Search of the Paralympic Torch, a set on Flickr.
With the main Olympic Games now a memory, the focus, for the next 11 days, is on the Paralympic Games, before Britain returns to the gloom of life under the crushing yoke of a myopic Tory-led government. While the Games were a great success, the emotional resonance of the Paralympic Games is much stronger, given the obstacles people have had to overcome to take part in the first place, and it is a tribute to the UK that the Paralympics began here in 1948. As Wikipedia explains:
The first organised athletic event for disabled athletes that coincided with the Olympic Games took place on the day of the opening of the 1948 Summer Olympics in London, United Kingdom. German born Dr. Ludwig Guttmann of Stoke Mandeville Hospital, who had been helped to flee Nazi Germany by the Council for Assisting Refugee Academics (CARA) in 1939, hosted a sports competition for British World War II veteran patients with spinal cord injuries. The first games were called the 1948 International Wheelchair Games, and were intended to coincide with the 1948 Olympics. Dr. Guttman’s aim was to create an elite sports competition for people with disabilities that would be equivalent to the Olympic Games.
While I hope the Paralympic Games are a great success, I cannot post these photos and move on without expressing my contempt for the current government, which, using the French firm Atos Healthcare, has implemented a policy aimed at cutting state support for disabled people, through reviews rigged to demonstrate that all manner of physically and mentally disabled individuals, who ought to be deserving of support in any country that calls itself civilised, are actually fit for work. As well as being cruel on its own terms, this policy — like the government’s demonisation of the unemployed — is also shockingly unfair, when the economy is horrendously depressed (a situation aided by ministers’ deluded obsession with austerity), and jobs are hard to come by even for those without disabilities.
I have written extensively about the government’s savage and unacceptable cruelty towards the disabled (see, for example, Today the Tories Took £100 A Week from Some of the UK’s Most Disabled People: How Can This Be Right?, RIP Karen Sherlock, Another Victim of the Tories’ Brutal, Heartless Disability Reforms, Doctors Urge Government to Scrap Callous Disability Tests and Where is the Shame and Anger as the UK Government’s Unbridled Assault on the Disabled Continues?), and urge anyone interested in making sure that cynical politicians are not allowed to continue their wretched policies, this time around by using disabled athletes to portray other disabled people as workshy scroungers, as they will undoubtedly do, to join in this week’s Atos Games, organised by Disabled People Against the Cuts (and see UK Uncut and the Guardian‘s coverage) to protest about the utter hypocrisy of Atos being a main sponsor of the Paralympics, securing favourable PR for themselves, while doing more than almost any other company to make the lives of disabled people as miserable — or intolerable — as possible (also see The Void article here).
Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed — and I can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, Digg, Flickr (my photos) and YouTube. Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in April 2012, “The Complete Guantánamo Files,” a 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, and details about the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, and available on DVD here — or here for the US). Also see my definitive Guantánamo habeas list and the chronological list of all my articles, and please also consider joining the new “Close Guantánamo campaign,” and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.
On Facebook, Carl Ninety-nine Percent Saalfeld wrote:
And here I thought that we had a monopoly on hypocrisy with our Republican politicians…
George Kenneth Berger wrote:
Thanks, Carl and George. Good to hear from you both. Sadly, Carl, since the days of Thatcher and Reagan, both the US and the UK have been plagued by leaders bent on enriching the rich and impoverishing everyone else, and using a variety of dubious means to do so. I do, however, think that the spin gets more disgusting as time goes on, and what would once have been remarked upon as callous gets progressively more and more normalised, which I find deeply troubling.
Esther Angel wrote:
Late notice, but if anyone is free this Friday and in London, would you please swell the ranks of the Closing Atos Ceremony protest. Details are here: https://www.facebook.com/events/217652368360892
Thanks, Esther. Yes, I have pointed people in the right direction, but it’s worth mentioning the specific details: tomorrow, Friday August 31, art 12.45 at Atos HQ, Triton Square, London NW1 3HG. Here’s Triton Square on a map: http://bit.ly/OL8hlB
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