Mark Ewing, a former city councilman from Wasilla, Alaska, and candidate for the state House recently squared off in a debate with his opponent. In that debate, Ewing made several surprising comments, including “I love coal. I love the smell of burning coal in the morning.”
Of course, coal is one of the most polluting sources of energy around. A single power plant dumps tons of harmful pollutants into the air, inflicting damage on people and nature. Enjoying the smell of burning coal is as wise as inhaling tobacco fumes and bragging about how great it is for one’s health.
Perhaps all that inhaling helps explain Ewing’s next comment. These words cannot go down well with Wasilla’s more famous resident Sarah Palin whose youngest child is handicapped.
“I got to be honest with you, I am not in favor of the No Child Left Behind Act. We are spending millions and millions of dollars educating children that have a hard time making their wheelchair move and, I’m sorry, but you’ve got to say, ‘no’ somewhere. We need to educate our children, but there are certain individuals that are just not going to benefit from an education,” Ewing said.
Ewing did not elaborate if the disabled children should be left at home or abandoned and left to die in the wilderness, as animals must do in nature. Clearly, he has dismissed the notion that civilized societies have a responsibility for all their citizens.
A child unable to move a wheelchair might be so severely handicapped that education is not even a possibility. However, that is not what Ewing is talking about. He is suggesting that it needs to be withheld. Withholding something is only significant when someone is participating in it. If one of these kids can participate in education, then they are gaining something from it.
It seems that Ewing is suggesting that if a handicapped child cannot fully function in society then there is no purpose in pursuing the education. That isn’t the way life is. There are plenty of handicapped children who grow up to pursue productive roles in society.
While he was not handicapped as a child, scientist Stephen Hawking is a perfect example of someone who cannot move his wheelchair but has contributed powerfully towards our understanding of the universe.
Ewing is now trying to convince people that what he really said was that these children “can’t even figure out how to make their wheelchair work.” Somehow, this is supposed to make it sound better from having “a hard time making their wheelchair move.”
Yet Ewing is not backing off his conclusions:
“Actually, you know, that was a response that isn’t politically correct. But I’m going to use a quote from Jack Nicholson and that is, ‘most people can’t handle the truth.’”
Yes, significant resources would be saved by ignoring disadvantaged children. The same argument could be made for halting aid to the poor and unemployed. The elderly and ill could be refused care and treatment as well. After all, their service to society has passed. This seems the philosophical direction that Ewing is going.
Fortunately, most people are not unfeeling or advocates of this neo-social Darwinism. A civilized society is measured by how it treats its weakest and most unfortunate members. Ewing appears to have a problem with that. Hopefully, the voters in his district will have a problem with Ewing.