Today I shared this link on the MoD facebook page, to an unbelieveable article on Suzanne Atanus, a GOP candidate for the US House of Representatives in Illinois. According to the Daily Herald:
"I am a conservative Republican and I believe in God first," Atanus said. She said she believes God controls the weather and has put tornadoes and diseases such as autism and dementia on earth as in response to gay rights and legalized abortions.Controversy immediately ensued. And when Republican leaders called on Atanus to drop out of the race over the brouhaha, Atanus belligerently defended her remarks: "I'm not withdrawing from the race. I don't know why they are not standing behind me. They should talk to me personally. I will not back out of the race."
MoD fans were as disgusted as I was by this revolting display of ignorance and arrogance, but Carol Longton, of Green Bay, Wisconsin, was incensed.
Carol inboxed me immediately, sharing her outrage and that she was infuriated and in tears over the article and the callous comments. Carol shared a link to an article on her son, Jared, from the Green Bay Press Gazette. Jared, who has autism, is a remarkable child who was featured in the paper for his unique tradition of celebrating his birthday by asking guest to his party to bring donations to local charities. Carol took the remarks from Atanus very personally:
HOW DARE SHE say my child's condition is a punishment. He is a loving child who has a heart of gold. Guess his charity work means nothing if his family isn't rich and supporting the GOP.After a brief exchange and commiseration, I got another message from Carol, saying she's taken her outrage to the next level: "I have sent this [letter below] to every single Chicago newspaper as well as a few online sites - I am one ticked off momma right now!"
For the sake of Jared and every person living a rewarding, fulfilling life with autism, I share Carol's brilliant letter with you, and hope that every single paper she sent it to sees fit to print it on the front page.
January 24, 2014
To Susanne Atanus,
I am writing to express my disgust concerning your views on autism, dementia, and our crazy weather. While I understand your right to free speech, I hope you’ll understand I have the same right and intend to scream from the top of the highest mountain.
I have a son who is now 12 years old. He is a gem and wonderful boy who, like his younger brother, is loved more than anything in this whole entire world by both of his parents. Jared is an extremely gifted student who excels at school, is a green belt in Tae Kwon Do (his jumping snap kick can break a 1” board), and every year on his birthday, works and donates all of his gifts to Happily Ever After No-Kill Animal Shelter. He is amazing beyond words and in his 12 years on this earth, has accomplished more than many others will in 20 or 30 years.
My son is also autistic.
How DARE you say my son’s condition is the result of God’s anger. How DARE you say my son deserves his autism because people in this world have an alternative lifestyle. How DARE you say God wants him to have the difficulties he has because someone else in this nation had an abortion.
Your views are blatantly ignorant, homophobic, vicious, and do nothing to show God’s love towards ALL human beings no matter how they live their life.
I hate abortion but I believe government has no place regulating a woman’s medical care. Do you honestly believe this is the cause of my son’s autism?
I am not gay but I support a person’s right to live their own lifestyle. Who am I to order someone to live a lifestyle that conforms to my personal beliefs? I may not agree with the way someone lives but I have no right to regulate it. Do you honestly believe this is the cause of my son’s autism?
Your political views have rocked me to my core. I am so unbelievably angry right now. Never have I been so insulted and blindsided by someone's ignorance. I am beyond sad and crushed that any human would feel my child is anything but a gift. This is a child with a heart of gold who wouldn't be cruel to anyone. All he wants is to swim with the dolphins, be cherished by his friends (thank you Max and EJ), take care of animals and become a veterinarian at SeaWorld, and succeed in Tae Kwon Do.
In the words of my best friend, Tracy: Our parents and grandparents with dementia and our children on the Autism spectrum are valued and precious human beings and not flawed or punishing to us.
Green Bay, Wisconsin
Many thanks, Carol, for sharing your letter, your story, and the truth.